The best way for an independent musician to ensure that they get a constant stream of gigs is to make sure that they set them up themselves. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to work with an agent, but you develop a better degree of control when you’re booking them yourself.
This is great because you control not only the frequency of your shows, but the venues that you work at. You’ll be able to decide whether you want to work with smaller, local venues or bigger ones with lots of people. Some people prefer the relaxed atmosphere of a small-town bar while others try to make it big.
Fortunately, with the advent of the internet, it’s pretty easy to figure out the tips and tricks that people have developed over the course of years of working with agents. We’re here to help make sure you learn some of the best tips for booking your own international gigs.
Here are five tips for booking international gigs as an independent musician.
1. Be consistent
The first and most important thing to remember is that you’re not going to be able to get a dozen gigs with a dozen phone calls (unless you have astronomically good luck). You’re going to need to call a few people and prepare yourself to hear a lot of “we’re full,” or even just plain “we’re not interested.”
That’s no reason to get discouraged, though. In fact, getting discouraged is the main reason that a musician won’t make it. With enough persistence, any musician can get a lot of gigs – even if they don’t have the talent necessary to be considered a good musician. Have you seen Lil Wayne?
If you keep a journal or a spreadsheet with the amount of calls you make and the number of times you have to follow up, you’ll be able to figure out roughly how many people you can expect to contact before you get a gig.
2. Keep track
The next most important thing is to remember to keep track of all of your appointments and calls. You have to keep track of more than just your scheduled gigs:
- Obviously keep track of your scheduled gigs and appointments.
- Keep track of the dates and times that you called different people. This way you’ll be able to set up a time to follow up with them without running the risk of losing track and calling them back too quickly or too late.
- You can even keep track of your rejections – if you find out that someone is booked solid for a few months or a year, you can keep a note on a calendar a year from when you find out.
3. Don’t be too trusting
You’ve probably already had a couple experiences where people tell you that they’re going to call you back where they didn’t. This could be an employee, a friend, an appointment – any number of things. Unfortunately, trying to get international gigs is no different. If someone tells you they’ll call you back, chances are, you’ll still be responsible for following through with them.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They’re probably just busy. It shows initiative and confidence if you call them back and remind them that you’re still alive. Likewise, it’s important not to get discouraged if someone doesn’t call you back – it doesn’t mean that they didn’t like your music and they lied to you – if they didn’t like you, they’d probably just tell you!
4. Don’t fear the message
Many people are afraid of leaving voicemails or sending text messages to prospective employers because they’re worried about seeming needy. Sometimes people are just too busy to respond, and if you keep leaving them messages and dropping voicemails then they’ll be able to recognize your name and will be more likely to give you a call back.
Some people also rely more on email or text messages than they do on the phone. Obviously, these people will be more receptive if you leave them some sort of message instead of calling repeatedly to a phone that they never answer
5. Know when to stop
Even though most of what we’ve said so far is encouraging you to keep trying and be persistent, it’s also important to know when to call it quits. This is probably a bit later than you’ll expect, but it’s still important to make sure you quit when it’s a good time.
This generally means that you should keep going until you get a definitive answer. If you keep getting “maybes” and “call me backs,” you should keep trying until you get an affirmative or a rejection. If you’re rejected, find out why – if they’re booked up, then there’s still a chance for you to work there at a later date, and you can make a note in your calendar to call them back.
Of course, if trying to get an answer is becoming a source of anxiety, and the negatives are outweighing the potential positives, it’s also a good idea to stop.
Setting up gigs internationally can be a daunting prospect, but with the right knowledge and the confidence to do so, it can be an exciting experience. Hopefully we’ve helped you understand a bit better how to approach the music scene when you’re setting up gigs. Good luck to you and your musical endeavors!