Yeah, title kind explains it, we're originals, so how many songs should we have to start playing some gigs?

And while we're at it, how do we start giging?


Depends on how long your stage time is, but generally six songs is a good base.

To start gigging, call ahead to different venues and ask if you can get a show together. It'd be easier if you had one or two other bands willing to play with you guys, because the venue won't have to do as much in putting a show together. If you don't already, go to local shows and try to make some friends with the dudes in bands already. They'll help you out as well.
Last edited by blake1221 at Aug 22, 2011,
^6 songs? Really? I've been mulling over the same question for a while because my band is just about to start gigging, and I would have said a 45 minute set is your absolute minimum to play a support gig. My band has a few long songs (6 mins +) and we get through more than 6 in 45 mins.
You might get really short sets (15-30 minutes even), you might get really long sets (45-75 minutes) starting out. Hell, if you're a jam band, you might have to play 2+ hours if the venue permits.

That being said, it's always best to over-prepare. If you're a punk band playing 1-3 minute long songs, you don't want to have 15 minutes of material when a venue calls and says 'hey! want to play a full room for 45 minutes?' Plus, say you have 40 minutes of music and have to play a 30 minute long set. That means you get to cut out around 15 minute off your full songlist, then if anyone likes your music and goes to see you next time, you have more songs up your pocket and they don't hear the same thing over and over and over again, which means they'll keep going to see you live, which means you have a fan. If you throw all your cards on the table every time, how often is someone going to go watch the same songs get played the same way before they get bored and move on to the next funk-pop progressive jazzcore band in the area?
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What is the standard around your area? you not us should know. Have you gone to shows at your local clubs/venues? If so you should have an idea.

In my area, the main venue for newer bands have 30 minute sets and a show will contain 3-4 local bands. Headline and you'll generally get 45-60min.

For 30 minutes, 5-7 songs depending on length. You should play through your set and time yourselves...time how long of a set you have.

Search around for local open mic nights, go to your local bar, venues, and clubs. A lot of places will have some sort of "new music" night every so often. Where venues will give you a "trial"(for a lack of a better word) gig to see if you can bring your friends/"fans" and see how much of a draw you will have.

If you having some problems finding venues, shoot me a message and I might be able to help.
30 or less minutes would more than suffice for your needs. The best way to start playing shows is to get to know bands. Tons of solid local bands would love to have you on a show in your area. They'll also have the judgement to know when you'd be appropriate or not. Go to shows, make friends with local bands and ask them, you'll get no better advice than you would from them.
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Showcases and festivals you would get about 30 minutes - 45 minutes, which would be about 5-7 song. Pubs gigs you usually have to play for about 3 hours, so thats about 35-40 songs.
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I've always said to have about an hour's worth of material if you're just starting out, between both originals and covers.

My reasoning behind this is that since you're just starting, most of your gigs are going to be openers, and the length of opening gigs varies wildly. You could play 4 songs, you could play 10, who knows. It's always good to have a backup just in case. Make a set-list that's solid all the way through so if you get cut short, oh well, but if you run past, you have a couple extras you can throw in for the funsies.
Its always a good idea to prepare more material than you really need. Something might happen to the act you're opening for, and the venue owner could ask you to fill in some time. Or you could get a really awesome response and need to play an encore.

Always have a few extra songs ready.
You should have 10 or more, but you only play 6. That way only a majority of your songs are crap.

Plus, if you audience decides your songs are not crap, you can do an encore.
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It depends a lot on how long your songs are. My band's songs are 2-3 minutes so we have about 9 songs on our set with some room for talking and tuning and introducing the band and all of that.

We got our first show by emailing a local small club and asking what available times/dates they have and just chatting with them for the show. We did not need a demo CD and we were just starting our MySpace page with no music. So not all clubs will need to hear you, although larger venues generally do.

However, you can also contact a local booking company near by and have them help you set up the show. You generally have to sell tickets and give a percentage to them but it is fun and the venues are pretty cool.

Have fun and good luck
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This is the rule I go by: You need AT LEAST 30 minutes worth of material. No less. Because the shortest gig I've ever had was 25 minutes, and that was because we ran out of material. It's not about how many songs, it's about how long they are.

The more material you have, the better. But you can have 13 songs and if they're each only 2 minutes... well, it doesn't matter how many you have, you won't fill the set.

Get 30 minutes of solid material ready. Practice those songs multiples times every session. Then add to it.
If you do originals, I can hedge a good bet that at least half of them will be of mid-low quality. Overwrite, if you can do so without completely sacrificing quality. Then you can have a couple choice covers and a full set of good original material, which you can then put on your album.
Honestly, until you have an album's worth of unrecorded material, then songwriting needs to be a regular part of your practice. You don't have "enough" songs unless you're in a place where if somebody said to you, "Hey, I've got a couple of days in the studio starting tomorrow for you, free. Want to rip off your (next) album?"

When I go see bands, usually the shortest set is 40 minutes or so, so it seems to me that you need at least that much material. Others have made a compelling argument that you need more. Obviously, "more" doesn't count for much unless it's also "good" so I think you need to be constantly developing material to find the good stuff. But also, really, you want to be able to play a two hour set. I think that's a goal to work towards. It's fine if you're not there yet, but keep pushing.
Original bands are usually asked to play a 45 minute set. They are rarely allowed to play more than 60 minutes unless they are headlining and only have one band opening up. If they have two bands opening, then they're usually back to 60 minutes tops. Unless they are an actual recording act signed to a label and with a following kind of thing.

Cover bands are expected to play at least three 45 minute sets.... so that's about 30-40 songs. Cover bands rarely have openers because they're... well.... cover bands.

Tribute bands are generally expected to play about 90 minutes - either all in one go, or in two 45-minute sets. They often have an opener.

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Go hang out at the places you want to play at and see how much time other originals that aren't headlining get. Aim to have a set list that can cover that amount of time +10 to 15 more minutes.