guide to gigging

The indie artist’s guide to gigging and touring

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Our indie guide to gigging includes posts that fall into four major categories: 1) Performance tips; 2) Gig, booking, and touring advice; 3) Stage, production, and logistics; 4) Promotion, merch sales, and more.

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Updated September 2017. Whether you’re ready to book your own DIY tour or your first gig ever, our Indie Artist’s Guide to Gigging has booking and gigging strategies that will help you play better shows, make more money, and survive your time on the road. The posts below also cover topics like house concerts, set lists, stage banter, stage fright, working the crowd, and staying healthy so you can perform at your best. Dig in and hit the road, Jack!

Performance tips

Five fixes to improve your chances for success as a singer/songwriter (July 2017)
If you want success as a singer/songwriter, I already know these five things need to be addressed without even seeing your show.

How to improve your live sound with music theory (March 2017)
Music theory is a set of tools you can lean on to help you write and compose, and being deliberate in how you arrange your parts can translate to a better sound on stage.

Performance tips for singers: My three day plan (November 2016)
If you follow the performance tips for singers included in this Three Day Plan, you’ll be prepared for every gig and you’ll never look back!

Use visual and musical cues to lead your audience (September 2016)
Your audience wants to respond, they just don’t know what you want them to do. Use verbal, visual and musical cues to lead them where you want them to go.

Band rehearsal lessons I learned from Jazz at Lincoln Center (July 2016)
Whatever your style of music or size of your ensemble, there’s a lot I learned watching the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra that you can apply to your next band rehearsal.

Sick for the gig? Here are tips to get through the show in one piece. (April 2016)
Here are some practical tips to help you deal when stars (and germs) align to make you sick for the gig you’ve been looking forward to play.

How to survive four hour marathon gigs (March 2016)
Not everyone wants to play marathon gigs, but a deep love of music and a desire to share it can make this a great way to get paid for doing what you love.

Changing the pressure during your live performances (November 2015)
Being intentional with different visual presentations for the variety of moods your songs invoke is part of what Tom Jackson calls “changing the pressure” on your audience during your live performances.

How to survive as a solo cover musician (November 2015)
Fashioning a career in music takes – as this author puts it – the skills of a guerrilla jungle warrior. Here are three pieces of advice to help you succeed as a solo cover musician, or in any niche where you hope to make money playing music.

Give your fans a live music performance to remember (June 2015)
To succeed in music, your live music performance has to be more than just a rehearsal on stage. Get creative, scale your performance to the venue, and give the people a show to remember.

Band rehearsal tips: Can you be over-rehearsed? (February 2015)
Echoes’ Andre Calilhanna gets some band practice tips from Tom Jackson as they discuss striking the right balance between being under-rehearsed and over-rehearsed.

Rehearsing with a purpose (February 2015)
Echoes’ Andre Calilhanna speaks with live music producer Tom Jackson to discuss how a great live show starts with focused band rehearsal and having a goal for your live performances.

Owning the crowd: music performance tips from the “One Man Sideshow” (August 2014)
Keeping an audience enrapt and engaged during a music performance can have more to do with how you connect as a performer than it does with your music and songs.

What to do when the song is over (August 2014)
The moments after the song is over present a crucial opportunity to build momentum for your live music performance, and it’s one that many music performers tend to miss.

The power of a trash can ending (July 2014)
There are clever ways to end a song, but a live music performance sometimes requires you to lead your audience with the trash can ending.

Ditch the pre-show performance jitters (July 2014)
Getting nervous before a show is something most performers go through. These six simple ideas can help you overcome your performance jitters.

9 things you should never do on stage (June 2014)
It’s good to know what you should be doing to advance your music career, but it’s also important to be aware of the things you should avoid. Don’t do these things during a music performance.

Making magic when things go wrong on stage (November 2013)
Maintaining confidence and control – or at least the appearance thereof – can go a long way toward making a performance special when things go wrong on stage.

Improve Your Live Music Show – Get Visually Creative! (August 2013)
Your songs don’t sound the same, they shouldn’t look the same when you perform your live music show.

Three Keys to a Compelling Music Performance (August 2013)
From the audience’s perspective, confidence, authority, and charisma are three ingredients to a memorable music performance.

Improving Your Music Performance Starts With a Vision (May 2013)
Getting a vision for your music performance will help you connect to your audience.

Tom Jackson interview: Part 1 (March 2013)
Part one of Echoes’ interview with renowned live performance producer Tom Jackson.

Tom Jackson interview: Part 2 (March 2013)
Part two of Echoes’ interview with renowned live music performance producer Tom Jackson.

Stage Banter and Your Live Show (March 2013)
Your stage banter can contribute to a great live music performance — or a lousy one.

Seven Ways to Captivate a Live Music Audience With Your First Song (December 2012)
Understanding your relationship with a live music audience has everything to do with how to construct your set, and it starts with a captivating intro.

Singing Tips – Don’t Tax Your Voice Before a Vocal Performance (November 2012)
Resting before a vocal performance is key, but environmental things, like being in a place where the decibel level is too high, can adversely affect your capacity to sing.

Working the Crowd… Offstage (November 2012)
Call it audience management or connecting with an audience, but working the crowd is every bit as important as putting on a killer stage show.

A Great Show Doesn’t Happen By Accident (October 2012)
When you perform live, try to see your performance from the audience’s point of view. Why do they audience show up? What are they hoping to get out of the evening?

Stage Fright! Overcoming Music Performance Anxiety (September 2012)
The club is packed, the crowd is stoked, your sound check went beautifully, and you’ve already sold thirty CDs before playing a single note. Everything is going perfectly — so why do you feel like you want to throw up?

Freshen Up Your Live Show – 5 Ways To Spruce Up Your Live Music Performance (May 2012)
Here are 5 ideas and performance tips to help you freshen up your live music performances without losing yourself in the process. Take one on, or all five and really shake things up. (And add some of your own in the comments section!)

Set List Tips – getting your song order together for your next live show (March 2012)
There’s an art to crafting a good set list, and here are 13 set list tips to get you on the right track.

Gig, booking, and touring advice

Will this gig help you reach your music career goals? (June 2017)
When working toward your music career goals, the big question I want to focus on is: “How do I know if a gig is worth playing?”

#TourLife hacks: CDs, merch, and fan appreciation with The Accidentals (December 2016)
From playing shows to selling CDs and merch to finding time for self care, life on the road requires a balance between your personal, public, and business life. The Accidentals share some #TourLife hacks with us.

The Indie Artist’s Guide to Gigging: Booking Strategies (July 2016)
Excerpted from our updated Indie Artist’s Guide To Gigging, this section focuses on booking strategies for acts trying to gain momentum and widen their base.

Five ways to get more gigs (July 2016)
If your goal is to get more gigs and play better venues, these five tips can help you make the most of your time and energy and give you a plan of attack.

Develop a home base before moving to regional music venues (September 2015)
Overnight success is a long and steady process of setting and reaching one goal at a time that often takes many years. Build from success at local music venues and build outward from there.

Have you outgrown your favorite music venue? (August 2015)
Knowing what to do when your act outgrows a music venue presents booking challenges as you try to move to your next logical career level.

Are you building a music career or just filling the calendar? (July 2015)
Your master plan should help guide you to make smart decisions as you weigh the benefits of booking music gigs and which venues are right for your music career.

Expand your audience with opening act and support slots (June 2015)
Being an opening act for a more established band is a great way to expand your audience. Here are some tips to make this more strategy than chance.

How to find and play unconventional music venues (April 2015)
Whether you’re just getting your band off the ground or you’re seeking a new opportunity, playing unconventional music venues can benefit your music career.

How to gig more without overexposing yourself (March 2015)
You should leave your fans wanting more, so if you want to perform live more than once a month, here are four strategies to fill up your performance schedule without saturating the market.

Gigging, touring, and performance contract tips (November 2013)
Artist Manager Nell Mulderry shares insights on crafting a performance contract – plus booking agents, tour managers, and your music career.

Touring Tips For International Music Gigs (April 2013)
Playing international music gigs can be a blast, but be prepared for everything.

International Music Gigs, Pt. 2 – Managing Your Gear (June 2013)
10 touring tips to help manage your equipment for far-off music gigs.

How to Get Gigs and Make a Living Playing Music (March 2013)
Pt. 1: Booking and touring tips to help turn your DIY tour into a lifestyle.

Saving Money While Touring (February 2013)
Whether touring around your favorite regions of the globe or traveling to a far off city for a music conference, there are a few tricks and tips that can help make your travels go smoothly, and keep your bank account afloat at the same time.

Are You In Danger of Playing Too Much? (June 2012)
We all want to gig more often, but have you really taken a look at how gigging too much in a given market might impact your ability to grow?

Tips for Surviving and Thriving on Tour (January 2012)
Taking your music on the road is a great way to reach new audiences, see the world, and hopefully have a grand adventure — but any touring veteran will tell you that it’s not as easy as it looks.

Being healthy on the road (February 2012)
Making a commitment to eating better and living a healthier life while on the road with your band can provide you with more energy, better moods, and greater self-esteem – all of which can positively affect your songwriting, performances, and relationships.

Indie Touring Strategy: Getting Out on the Road (April 2011)
What are the realities of touring for an independent artist today? How do you set up your gigs? Does touring make financial sense? What should you hope to gain from going on any tour?

Gigging and Touring as an Indie (February 2010)
What’s important to realize is there’s a focused and unfocused way to go about booking and playing gigs, and the difference can spell success or failure for your act.

Direct to Fan – The Art of the House Concert (April 2010)
You want a relationship with your fans? Why not go to their houses and play. No way to get to know people better than invading their homes and doing your thing right in the middle of their living rooms. Right?

Stage, production, and logistics

How to make a detailed input list for your live shows (September 2017)
An input list should include every instrument, DI, and vocal that’s part of your stage set-up. Here are some tips to help you put together an effective input list with minimal headache.

The details your live sound engineer wants to know (September 2017)
Think you’ve told your live sound engineer everything he needs to know for your big gig? Don’t forget these important details.

Set yourself up for success with an accurate stage plot (August 2017)
A well-crafted stage plot – customized to the lineup and tech needs of your band – can go a long way towards setting yourself up for success once you hit the stage, especially for a multi-band event.

Tips for a smooth transition at your next music gig (July 2017)
The fifteen minutes between one artist’s final note and the next group’s first “hello” are precious. How you handle the transition can set you up for your best performance at your next music gig.

Live streaming your show: A Facebook Live case study (March 2017)
Producing a successful live streaming event takes a lot more than a smart phone and a tripod. This two-part post features a Facebook Live case study from concept and rehearsal, to broadcast and analysis.

Facebook Live broadcast: Our case study show and its aftermath (March 2017)
In Part 2 of this post, we take a look at a Facebook Live broadcast and detail the problems, the solutions, and the benefits Amanda Jones & The Family Band enjoyed

More tips to make your unplugged gig a success (June 2016)
Playing an unplugged gig outdoors presents challenges if you need amplification – but there are ways to meet the challenges and put on a great show.

Preparing to perform live (June 2016)
Success onstage begins with comfort in your own skin and with your own music. Your identity when you perform live onstage has to come across as authentic to the audience.

Last-minute bandmate – What to do when your key players can’t play the gig (February 2016)
Whatever the circumstances, if any one of your regular band mates can’t play the gig, the show must go on! Here’s some advice that can help you make the best of the situation – and even use it as a chance to grow as a musician.

Gigging without electricity – how we made it through the show in the park (July 2015)
Transitioning a full band with keyboards and vocals to gigging without electricity sounds like it could be a nightmare – but a little creativity and planning made it work for us.

Modify the drums (and more) when a venue pulls the plug (June 2015)
Being flexible and shaping your rig and performance style to fit the venue and circumstances can make a challenging live music performance work.

Help the soundman get you a great live music mix (March 2014)
Here are nine tips to help increase the chances you’ll get a top-notch live music mix for your next performance, direct from a soundman.

Gig Etiquette – Set-Up and Breakdown Habits To Live By (July 2012)
Adopting common-sense habits like showing up early, making lists, and packing ahead of time can save you considerable trouble and grief before and after you hit the stage for your music gig.

Promotion, merch sales, and more

From your brand to your fans: Making music merch work for you (January 2017)
What’s in an artist brand? How do you develop one? And how do you best integrate your brand into your music merch endeavors?

Your live show is the best music marketing tool – just follow the numbers (November 2016)
Live shows are underdeveloped as a music marketing tool by most artists. You need to track numbers to understand what’s working from a marketing perspective.

Build your music career while your band is on the road (October 2016)
Touring is such a valuable learning and career opportunity for a musician, and having a genuine attitude and hard-working ethos on the road can only lead to bigger, better opportunities.

I spent $0 at your show. Here’s why. (September 2016)
Don’t miss an opportunity to build a superfan relationship by blowing it at the merch table.

Give your music audience a chance to relive the moment (August 2016)
Your music audience is at your show for different reasons, and one is to experience moments – emotional and musical. Let them relive those moments with your CDs and merch.

Five strategies to help boost music merch sales (December 2015)
Live music shows are an opportunity to make music merch sales that you can’t pass up, and having a strategy will help you maximize those sales. Here are five points to keep in mind when stocking your merch booth.

Got an unconventional gig? Use unconventional promotion. (May 2015)
Playing unconventional music venues can be a great way to expand your brand. Make those gigs a success through creative promotion, storytelling, and finding a unique narrative.

Making Money: Merch, Music Gigs, and Your DIY Tour (March 2013)
Pt. 2 of our “Make a Living Playing Music” series focuses on making money at music gigs.

Sell More Than Just Your Music – 9 Quick Tips to Boost Gig Sales (February 2010)
Whether you’ve pimped out a thrift-store suitcase or constructed a sleek and chic portable display, you’ve got to make sure that something besides your undeniable musical genius catches the attention of the people in the audience.

A musician, writer, and marketer, Andre Calilhanna manages and edits the Disc Makers and BookBaby Blogs. Follow Andre on Twitter @dre_cal. Email him at

Guide to Gigging

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