Every singer who has ever wanted to build up their experience is faced with the age-old question of when it’s time to showcase their newly cultivated talents to the world…. Where do i gig?
When you’re first starting out, gaining experience working in casual and semi-professional environments is crucial to building up your confidence and learning the ropes when it comes to booking your show.
It’s also a great way to ‘figure yourself out’ when it comes to setlists, music, P.A. systems etc… without the added pressure of the gig being a super ‘big-deal’.
Perform everywhere. (I wrote a blog about why this is important last week and I highly recommend you read it here.)
So, here are my 6 Places You Should Be Singing (if you aren’t already):
It absolutely kills me to hear just how many singers think that they’re ‘above busking’.
I mean sure, you probably don’t need to do it for the $20 you’ll make if you’re lucky, but if you can really learn to perform in an environment with as much adversity as busking… you will pretty much be able to handle anything that comes your way in the professional world.
Not only do you get to practice singing in public, you also gain experience in setting up your own equipment and adjusting your sound for the public setting.
Not to mention the logistics of getting your busking license, as well as the rules and regulations of your local council. Every council is different, so depending on your state, territory or country, be sure to have a look at what’s required for the places you’d like to busk.
Utilise the opportunity to have business cards or flyers out for passers-by with links to your website and social media profiles. You may even have information about your upcoming gigs or where people can get more of your music.
You never know who’s walking by and who might want to book you when you least expect it.
#2- Open Mic Nights
These are a great way to get in front of the people at venues who actually book the talent that performs on a regular basis.
Open mic nights are perfect for practicing new material and gaining performance experience before moving on to paid gigs.
You’ll have the opportunity to work with different sound technicians, different P.A. Systems and even different crowds and demographics.
Working from one venue to the next can really trip a new singer up, and then you end up completely frazzled in your set because everything is different from space to space.
frazzled in your set because everything is different from space to space.
It’s best to get a LOT of different experiences under your belt and learn how to adapt really quickly. Learn what questions to ask before you sing and who you should speak to before you even get there to make sure you’re fully prepared. .
They’re also a great opportunity to get some photos and videos of yourself performing in a professional environment to add to your website and social media and show potential bookings that you have experience.
So bringing a trusted friend along to take some good pics and vids on your phone is more valuable than you realise. And if they can add to your stories or broadcast live, that’s even better.
You cannot be afraid to let people know what you’re doing… you might be surprised just how much support you’ll get from family and friends, and how a little really goes a long way!
Google ‘Open Mic Nights’ in your city, then call each venue or contact them on social media to see what’s suitable for your style.
There’s no harm in trying!
#3- Local Bars & Restaurants
I bet there are plenty of small, family-owned businesses in your area who would love to have someone come and perform for their customers once a week.
The old saying ‘ask and you shall receive’ works wonders in these kinds of settings because most people fall short at the asking part… You’d be surprised who’s willing to say yes to some free or low-cost entertainment. You might even get a free meal out of it!
You can offer to do this once a month, in exchange for being able to advertise yourself and build up followers on social media, hand out business cards and flyers and take photos and videos as well as try out new material.
Find a good venue you can strike a deal with and who knows… you might just get a well paid booking long term!
#4- Shopping Centres & Malls
Plenty of shopping centers and malls put on events from time to time to try and draw more customers to the centre, especially around special days like Mother’s Day, Easter and Christmas.
Contact the events coordinator at your local shopping centre and offer your services. A phone call, followed by an email explaining more about what you do is a great way for them to keep you ‘on file’ when they’re looking for someone next time.
Once again, the fact that you’re asking for the opportunity is the key here.
And since they don’t have to source you through an agency, that will save them $$ – which is what marketing is all about.
Contacting local schools and charities is the same process as the shopping centres above.
Let the event coordinators know about what you have on offer in return for experience or a very minimal cost.
If a fundraising event pops up on Facebook, contact the organiser to see if they would like some free entertainment in return for a ticket and the ability to promote yourself.
Events like this often get a large turnout with a lot of active listeners which is great for building your social media following.
Plus, you never know who’s in the audience when it comes to these kinds of events!
#6- Nursing & Retirement Homes
Don’t laugh at this one… I know many singers who earn a little extra money here and there by going around to nursing homes and putting on a show.
The oldies will enjoy just about anything that’s appropriate and they always give good feedback, making you feel really good about yourself too!
It’s a great way to practice with an audience who is non-judgmental and forgiving.
Plus, it’s a wonderful way to share the gift of music.
So that’s my list…
Imagine how good you would get if you did just 6 months of performing at each of the places here??
When you’re just starting out, it’s all about volume which is the best way to build your experience and skill level with singing.
With this list alone, you should have 1-3 gigs per week, which is a great position to be in for a new singer.
From the amount of experience you would gain by doing this over a 6 month period, you could be booking regular high-paying gigs in no time.
This level of commitment and consistency is what’s required to become a professional performer and make a living out of it.
So book up your calendar and save your weekends for singing, not socialising.
The long-term rewards are far greater than the short-term sacrifice!
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