Ultimate Guide To Going Live. Part 3: Getting A Gig

So you've been practicing hard for a couple of months and you think you're ready for the first step towards your band getting off the ground. There are a few things you need to have/have done before you start going about finding venues. This next section of UG's Guide to Going Live will be on getting a gig and how to go about it and how to be prepared.

Ultimate Guitar
So you've been practicing hard for a couple of months and you think you're ready for the first step towards your band getting off the ground. There are a few things you need to have/have done before you start going about finding venues etc.


At you practices, decide what songs you want to play and make a rough set list for your gig. Get people to come along for the last hour or so to hear how you are getting on and get some feedback on how you are doing because they are the audience! Another useful thing which is vital in some places when getting a gig, a recording. Just tape your practice or something like that so that the venue and the people in charge know what you sound like. Most of the time, they won't want a death metal band playing at a quiet country pub. This will show the people in charge what you sound like and if you're ready for the gig. Make sure all your songs are perfect and that you all know them off by heart. This will avoid confusion and panic on stage. Also, practice what you are going to do on stage like moving around. Make sure you can still play whilst doing it. Another good tip is setting your equipment up like on stage so you will be ready for it and the promoters will be able to tell that you know what you're doing. Keep running through your set so that you can see how well it flows and get the feel of it. Also, if there is a guitar change or something like that, see how long it takes you to get all ready for the next song. Once you have all this sorted out, you can work on how to spice up your set and on stage performance. Plan some synchronized jumps and all those things, this way it will keep the audience interested, and if you look like you're having a good time, they will enjoy it just as much. And remember, if the reaction from the crowd is good then you may be asked to play there again, which is what you should be aiming for.

Your Recording:

When you record your band, keep it short and very sweet. Put your very best songs on it and make sure you can keep the listener interested when they are playing your recording. Put your best song on first so this will keep them eager to hear more and they will listen on. First impressions are the ones that matter, so remember to make one hell of an impact. Then put another 2 or 3 of your tracks but make sure they are of the same quality as your first song. If you have one song that it a mile better than the others then you have no chance of getting the gig. And remember, make sure this is good quality and the best you can possibly do because if they like you, then you might find yourself playing there frequently.


To be ready for your gigs, you will need to have your own equipment. Most of the time, the venue will have a PA system but if not look into renting or borrowing one. You should have your own guitars and drum kit and all the accessories you might need. Amps are also needed. Depending on the size of the venue, will determine the size of your amp. If you're playing a small hall then a combo amp will do you fine but if it is bigger than this then you will either need a bigger amp or you could use a microphone to run your amp through the PA system. Make sure you confirm with the venue if they have the essential equipment or if you are going to have to borrow/rent some.

Write An Introduction Letter To Your Band:

You could give a letter to the person/people in charge about your band. What type of music you play, your name, some contact details, what type of material you'll be playing and all those types of things. Just give the basic background information and this way, you can show them that you are interested in what you are doing and committed and they will probably offer you more gigs. Find out about what kind of genres they like to play, and if they do themed nights like, all metal or all punk.

Things To Remember:

The main thing to remember when looking for gigs is treating it like a job interview. You must be serious about what you are doing or no one will treat you seriously. And also, be committed. Make sure you turn up on time and remember all your gear and all the little things. Talking to people and bands that have played there before can also help, as you can find out how you should expect to be treated. Different venues have different rules and standards. You don't want to have a tough crowd on you first gig! If it doesn't go as you planned then just treat it as experience and learn from your mistakes. For example, if the main band is metal and you play punk, they may not like you but you have to live with that. Don't be put off when looking for gigs in other venues. If you want to be successful, you have to work for it.

38 comments sorted by best / new / date

    good job another thing i have to add in small halls or clubs as the crowd get bigger it sounds different
    You kinda failed to mention genre clashes. If a punk band wanted a gig at a Rock club for example, They'd probably get it if they were decent. Send a punk band to a jazz club and they will laugh. Yes..it's obvious but so is 75% of the article. You have some good points, but I've seen better.
    I really like these Guides they help a lot! All of yours (Geldof, Friggin Jerk, and leech) were great! But shouldt Getting a gig come before the other 2? Cuz they are about what to do AT the gig? I just thought they should have been in order of importance...
    Geldof the Grey
    Chhalo: yes, you are right. Blame frigginjerk and Whiskey leech for submitting things in the wrong order. I didn't though seriously, I think it's ok actually. General advice had to come first and it's good to practice with a set list anyway, so it doesn't make that much difference.
    he didn't need to mention Genre clashes... That was dealt with in the WHat to Play Article.... This is assuming that you have a club that plays your type of music picked out... Read alll the articles and they will come together
    in the netherlands they have things (roughly translated) open stages. it's free, and everyone can peform if he likes to. great way to get a few gigs and get the word around if you just started to peform. u problably have them in the US or UK whatever too. nice article, some stuff were already in the first, but that one was about the basics, so no problem
    i have my first gig on lounge/bar last week ..... my bassist unable to come, so the rythm guitar have to play bass and one dude from another band play the rythm guitar ..... however it turn out to be quite fun !!!
    It may be "obvious" and "common sense", but those are the things that are forgotten when you are venturing into a new "arena". Good article
    Thankfully I haven't yet come across this problem when getting gigs, but article will be very handy when the problem arises (as it no doubt will!) Nice job dude.
    OpeN WidE
    black ivy also needs to know how to spell, hehe. nah, great article though. touched some important details.
    if it's all obvious, then there would be no bad shows because everyone would know what they were doing. we need more informative articles like this instead of people whining about what bands suck and whatnot.
    black ivy knowes all this!our band is fine with all this stuff on stage and wot not.We also hires halls we can be free in and not be bossed about. I say hire the halls and put posters up and stuff. It works!!!!
    Whaaaat? It's nothing like that over here... hahaha, that sounds really weird.. sending in music, making a good first impression to the owners of the venue, renting a PA... hahaha what the hell!
    Backup Guitar
    Yesss.. the last article before mine comes up! *dances* Okay, okay, it was good... kinda short, though.
    I have played at shows before and these tips help a lot, cause we found out the hard way. Its good to inform people of this kinda stuff.
    If you're VERY commited to nailing that gig, you can also try and come before people start showing up to the venue and to a sound check. It would amaze you how the size of the place can have an effect on the overall sound of the band. So it's a good idea to adjust volume, gain, mics, the whole shebang so that everything will sound just as you have it in your head.