This article originally appeared on TakeLessons.
Congrats on getting the big gig! Whether you're preparing for your band's first show or your album release party, these tips will help you learn how to promote your band, make your best impression onstage, and get invited back to the venue to do it all again.
One week before (at least)
- Put up posters around town. Don't rely completely on social media and the internet to promote your band. An eye-catching flyer or poster is another great way to grab attention and bring people out to your show.
- Step up promotion on social media. Share and reshare your Facebook event and a digital image of your flyer or poster, and make sure you've invited all your local friends and followers.
- Contact local bloggers, radio personalities, and alt weekly writers. If you can get a little media coverage for your gig, you'll be able to reach new fans. Plus you can share the coverage you get on social media to keep your current fans engaged and excited. Look for people who specialize in covering local music or music in your genre to help you out.
- Send an email to your local fans. Maybe you've noticed that it's hard to reach all your fans on Facebook. For that reason, it's a great idea to have an email list as well. When you have a big show coming up, you can be sure your fans will get your email. The same can't be said for your Facebook posts.
- Confirm advance information with the venue. Make sure you know what time you need to set up, how long your set is, and that the terms for payment have been agreed upon.
The day before
- Double-check your gear. Do all your cables work? Do you need new strings? Better to take care of those things now than have an equipment issue on stage.
- Pack your gig bag. I like to bring a bottle of water, a couple protein bars, a roll of duct tape, extra ear plugs, Sharpies, spare guitar strings, a handful of guitar picks, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a small notebook with me to each show. Pack your bag the day before to get it out of the way and reduce stress the day of the show.
- Print or write copies of your setlist. Don't wing it on stage. Make sure you've planned your set and practiced it before your show.
- Plan your outfit. Figure out what you want to wear and lay it out somewhere. Don't add stress by scrambling to find the right stage look at the very last minute. If you're in a band or ensemble, talk about what you're going to wear with the group so you can present a cohesive image.
- Get a good night's sleep. You'll perform better when you're rested, and you'll have more fun.
The day of
- Banish your stage fright with a calming activity. Get into a good mindset by reading a book, meditating, exercising, or watching your favorite show. Figure out what calms you and helps you prepare to play like the rockstar you are.
- Eat a light meal two to three hours before you perform. When you're on stage, you don't want to feel heavy and sleepy like you've just eaten five Thanksgiving dinners, but you also don't want to get hungry and lightheaded. Have a healthy meal so you'll be on top of your game.
At the gig
- Be there on time. Being punctual shows the venue that you respect their time, appreciate the opportunity you've been given to perform, and that you're professional. Seriously, if you don't follow any of these other tips, you must at least show up on time.
- Always be polite and professional. Save your complaints about the crowd, venue, or other bands for the privacy of your rehearsal space. When you're at the gig, be positive and kind. You never know who's watching, and you want to make a great impression.
- Say "hi" to the sound person, and remember their name. The sound guy or gal is the person who has the biggest impact on how you’ll sound in the audience. Be nice to them, and always remember to thank them for the help.
- Make friends with the other bands. Hang out and watch their sets, and they'll want to stay for yours, too. If you're lucky, the other bands will like you and offer you another great gig.
- Don't forget to bring merch. One of the best ways to make money at a gig is to have something for sale. Additionally, people will remember you better if they have something to take with them. Whether you've got stickers and CDs or vinyl records and T-shirts, don't play a show without putting something on the merch table.
- Always thank the venue, the fans, and the other bands during your set. Be gracious and spread the love. Being likable will help you get further in your local music scene than just talent alone.
- Have fun on stage! Enjoy your time in the spotlight. Your audience will feel the vibes and have a great time, too.
The day after
- Post thank-yous on social media to your fans, the other bands, and the venue. Keep the good times rolling by thanking everyone again. They will notice and appreciate it.
- Repost the photos that your fans shared at the gig. If someone captured a really great live shot of you, show other people what they missed out on by sharing it. You can generate buzz for your next show by sharing how much fun your show was last night.
- Update the upcoming gigs list on your website. Make sure your concert listings stay current by updating your site the next day. Or, if remembering to update your list is too hard, sign up for Songkick and their widget will update for you when the gig has passed. All you have to do is enter your performance dates, and Songkick will display them on your website, Facebook, SoundCloud, and other sites. (Editor's note: Make sure you keep your gig calendar updated on your Sonicbids EPK, too!)
Once the gig has come and gone, remember that the most important thing is the music. Keep practicing and working on your craft, whether you have a show coming up or not. You can always improve musically, and you'll likely find you get better with every gig you play. Rock on, and good luck!
Megan Liscomb is a writer and musician living in San Diego. She loves supporting independent artists and learning more about music every day. Megan has been working for TakeLessons since November 2011.