Playing live performances as often as possible is one of the best ways to build a fan base for you and your band.
The problem: Flute players are in a classic chicken-and-egg situation.
You need an audience to get a gig, but you need a gig to get an audience.
Never give up! It’s possible to break free from the vicious cycle, and I’ll explain how in this article.
1. Perform locally.
Your hometown is the best place to look for gigs.
If you aren’t already familiar with your local music scene, get to know it. Take the time to determine which venues and promoters are willing to give new flutists and bands a chance.
What local bands perform live and may require an opening act?
Which stages in your area host touring acts that may be seeking an opening act or band?
Approaching appropriate venues and groups increases the likelihood they’ll hire you. It will also save you the time and frustration of trying to get booked at venues or with bands that are unwilling to hire untested talent.
Don’t confine yourself to conventional music venues. Instead, consider summer festivals, street fairs, and food courts as alternatives. They may pay less but are generally more willing to try out newcomers.
Tip: Keep local radio stations, music podcasts, and entertainment bloggers up-to-date on your activities, and always invite them to your shows. It will create buzz, which will lead to more bookings.
2. Develop a promotional package.
Prepare a package to present yourself or your act to venues, promoters, and other bands. Maintain simplicity, impact, and clarity. Make sure it sets you apart from the other acts they consider booking. Make it impossible for them to turn you down.
Include a short demo CD, a bio or brief introduction to you or your band, and any press mentions you have, mainly if they include live performance reviews. Create an e-version that you can send to venues and promoters. Set up your website so bookers and others can quickly understand you and your art.
3. Contact the venue.
To book a gig at a performance venue:
- Call them directly or find out who handles booking acts online.
- Send them your promotional materials, then follow up with them by phone or email. The venue may tell you when you should contact that person again, or they may arrange for a meeting.
- If not, give them a week and follow up with a phone call or email.
- Continue to try until you get an answer.
- Just be careful not to irritate a booker with whom you may want to do business in the future.
If you haven’t played live much, you might be more likely to join an existing well-known band. Keep in mind if you book directly with a venue, you may be required to promote the show yourself and pay rental fees. If you join an existing program, this probably isn’t the case. At most, you’ll be responsible for promoting the show to your fans and followers and covering some of the venue costs. When you book directly, you earn more and spend more money. When you join an existing program, you make less money and spend less money.
4. Reach out to promoters.
Consider approaching a promoter to get bookings if you don’t want to promote your show and pay venue fees. Send your materials to the promoter and follow up with them the way you would with a venue. If they decide to work with you, they’ll book the venue and promote the show on your behalf. In addition, you may be responsible for supplying photos, posters, and other items that are used to attract an audience in some cases.
If a promoter isn’t ready to book you as a solo act, see if they have any shows you could open. If not, frequently return as you gain more experience and a larger following.
5. Consider your contract.
Most musicians and flutists are not legal experts. Nonetheless, you must clearly understand everything in each contract you sign.
You may not make much money from shows when you first begin performing to live audiences. You might break even at times. Consider it a (partially) paid internship. It contributes to the growth of your fan base, which means you’ll earn money on future gigs.
However, you should never pay to perform and never put your trust in anyone who asks you to.
When you get a booking, you’ll either have a deal in which you get paid a set amount regardless of how many people show up, or you’ll have a door-split agreement. Either option is acceptable and reasonable. In the early stages of your performing career, prioritize audience development instead of money.
6. Take advantage of every opportunity.
You owe it to yourself and your future to make the most of any performance you book. Practice until you’re at your best. Attend your sound check on time. Dress and act professionally. Avoid drinking even if it’s free, and don’t expect too many comps. Then perform your heart out.
Don’t think of a gig as a final destination. Instead, consider it the first step toward a long, prosperous performing career.