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5 Effective Ways for Cash-Strapped Musicians to Promote Their Gigs

Photo by Chelsea Nesvig via; used under Creative Commons

After spending months rehearsing and getting your songs tighter than a sweat-soaked shirt on a metal band’s drummer, you’ve finally landed a decent gig. You’re opening for some touring band that’s coming through town and you couldn’t be more excited. The only problem is that the show's on a Tuesday night, and you just know that in your hometown, it’s going to be hard to convince anyone to come out and watch you rock your pants off on a work night. To add to that, you just bought that new amp, so you can’t exactly rush out and drop a bunch of money on promotion for the gig. The out-of-town band doesn’t have time to promote every individual show. Hell, that’s why they asked you to open in the first place.

So how does a cash-strapped musician – and let’s face it, that’s most of us – get the word out about these gigs? Simply creating a Facebook event and sharing it with all your friends is not enough promotion for any show. I don’t care if it’s happening at the nearby amphitheater or the summer barbeque for your local block party. You need to do more to get the word out about your gigs. So let’s look at a few of the better options.

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How to Get the Best Live Sound Out of Your Acoustic Instrument

Image by Steve Proctor via Wikimedia Commons

So you’re taking the stage for your band’s big gig. You’re well rehearsed, nervous (but in that good way) and you’ve got your stage banter planned out tighter than an Abbott and Costello routine. You nod to the lead guitar player to make sure he’s okay, you check with the bassist to make sure she’s ready, you plug your acoustic in, and the drummer counts in the song. Everyone in the band comes in just as they’re supposed to, but when you rake your pick across the strings, you’re greeted with a tinny, thin, remarkably unexceptional sound that’s nothing like what you’re used to hearing when you play at home. Now you’ve got to make your way through an entire set sounding like you're playing a piece of fence stretched across a wooden pole. So what went wrong? How can you fix your sound before the next gig?

What No One Tells You About Booking Gigs in Toronto

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When you’re a young band just starting out, it can be hard to imagine breaking into the Toronto scene with any effectiveness. Basically every other person you meet in the city is an artist of some kind, and a good chunk of those are aspiring musicians. Talent seems to leak from the city’s sidewalk cracks and competition is steep. Add to that the abundance of different and diverse music scenes, and it can be hard to know where to even start.

Fortunately, we’ve gathered two local experts to pick their brains about how to successfully book gigs in Toronto. Matt Black is the booking manager at Coalition, a venue that caters to the heavier side of the city’s music scene. Coalition has only been around for a year or so, but it’s already gaining a really positive reputation around town – and it's no wonder, considering how long Matt has been putting on shows around Toronto. Craig Lasky is part owner and talent buyer at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern. He’s also part owner of Collective Concerts, which books shows at most of the city’s biggest venues, including The Drake, Opera House, Mod Club, Phoenix, Danforth Music Hall, Massey Hall, and occasionally the Air Canada Centre. This August will mark his second decade booking shows in Toronto.

Top 6 Toronto Venues Every Local Musician Wants to Play

Toronto is Canada’s largest metropolis, and as a result, many of the world’s biggest stars have traipsed across the city’s stages over the years. This has helped develop an incredible music scene and amazing talent. Some of the biggest musical artists in the world hail from Hogtown, so it shouldn’t be a surprise the city has the world-class music venues to help foster that kind of creativity. There are almost too many great venues to be able to do a list like this justice, but we’ve tried to boil it down to a handful of places that are on the bucket lists of most Toronto musicians.

Top 5 Unusual (But Awesome) Places to Perform in Toronto as an Emerging Band

Image via Pixabay

It will come as no surprise to anyone that lives there, but for a city that is often denigrated to "safe," "polite," and "clean" by much of the rest of the world, Toronto has a great selection of alternative venues. Some of these spaces have been around for decades, while others have more recently opened their doors. But alongside the bars and clubs that typically host live music on any given night, you’re just as likely to stumble across some great music happening in house basements, backyards, or reclaimed warehouse spaces across the city.

We've already looked at some of Toronto's best entry-level venues. Now, here’s a look at a handful of the city’s best alternative venues for you to check out.