Getting a Gig 101 with Monique Brumby

Monday, 07 Apr 2014

Last month Monique Brumby toured the country to facilitate our ‘Getting a Gig 101‘ events. Here she shares the music industry know-how she learned along the way. 

 1. How do you find the right venue for your band to play?

  • Be realistic about the number of people you can bring to your show and look for an appropriately sized venue.
  • Choose a venue where your demographic like to frequent or if you are just starting out, a venue that you and your friends like to go.
  • Google is your friend. Research what old and new venues are out there by looking at where bands you align yourself with play. You can find out venue capacities and upcoming venue programs as well as venue contact information all by doing a bit of research and looking at artist and venue websites.
  • If you are a band that values a quality PA and live sound, then tech specs can sometimes be sourced via venue websites or by a simple email enquiry. It’s generally a good sign if the venue can easily supply you with this info.

 2. What should you send to venues bookers when pitching for a gig?

  • Email a punchy, concise and well written bio (two pages maximum) including a quality photograph of you and your band.
  • Do not send large attachments! Just send links to content that best highlights what you can do (and make sure the links work!) E.g. Youtube, Bandcamp, Reverb Nation, Soundcloud, Facebook.
  • Venue bookers want to know why you are doing a show and what you are going to do to promote it. So have a reason for playing and outline your promotional strategy.
  • Invite media to your shows and tell the booker you’re doing this – they want media attention for their venues.
  • Be specific and upfront about your genre and style of your band.
  • Be reassured that venue bookers are still looking for a quality song. Sweet relief!
  • Be respectful of people’s time. Be polite and professional. If you haven’t heard back after a week, a follow up email is okay but allow a reasonable amount of time for them to get back to you. If the venue is good, a lot of bands will be pitching to play there just as you are – be politely persistent.

3.    Do you need a publicist to promote your show and how do you find the right one?

  • You don’t necessarily need to employ a publicist but you always need to promote your shows. Make sure you promote them on all your online platforms, in gig listings and amongst your circle of fans and friends – have a budget to promote your own shows.
  • If you cannot do your own publicity due to lack of time, experience and contacts, then perhaps you might have members of your band, friends, other artists or industry contacts who know about media and promotional campaigns to lend a hand. Again, Google search is your friend so if you have the time and the will, then you can achieve a lot without a publicist.
  • If you are self promoting your show and the venue is interested in booking your band, find out from the venue what promotion they are going to do and work in collaboration with them to maximize promotional opportunities.
  • Make sure your online profiles are up to date, informative and easy to navigate at all times.
  • From my experience, publicity fees range from $2000 – $5000 for a six to ten week national promotional campaign. For a three to six month campaign, you’re looking at up to $15,000 to $20,000. It can be less or more depending on the scope of your tour and on the publicist’s contacts and experience. Helpful?
  • Importantly, your publicist must LOVE your release – otherwise they will struggle to pitch it with conviction.
  • If you are going to employ a publicist you can find them by searching online ‘Australian music publicists’ or via record label sites, independent artists’ websites and word of mouth. They generally have the publicist listed. Find at least three publicists you like and contact them with your gig/tour info and what you are looking for. Ask them to quote on your requirements.

4.    How to develop touring opportunities outside your territory?

  • Try to put together touring and one off show collaborations with other artists to pool your audiences and build your networks.
  • From a grassroots level, get on the road. The best way to move forward into new territories, regardless of whether you have a booking agent or label, is to do a reconnaissance mission. Travel with maybe one or two members of the band initially to do a few support gigs in other territories. Or just save up and travel a little to meet venue bookers and artists face-to-face. You can’t underestimate the power of face-to-face connections.
  • When on the road, look at bands that you like, to see what venues they are playing. Go to gigs to get a feel for what venues you could play in, in different cities and towns. You can of course put something together from your base camp via online searching but you will need to research thoroughly. Again, be realistic about the size and style of the venue you should be playing at.
  • Budgeting is very important. Make sure you can cover your travel and tour costs. If not, make sure you are working towards a long-term plan to develop an audience after being prepared to outlay a little cash to make a start.
  • There is nothing like having audiences see you play live to develop connections with fans and to make new fans.

5.    What festivals should you apply for and what should you quote when making a pitch?

  • You can find a list of Australian festivals by searching online ‘List of Australian Music Festivals’ as a start. There are other music industry sites that are helpful to find industry information but I don’t want to list just a few and show any bias so use your creative brains and search a little online.
  • Follow the application guidelines for each festival. For first time bands, be happy to camp if the option is given unless a medical condition prevents you from doing so.
  • SonicBids applications are not essential to being a successful applicant.
  • Some festivals have X number of bands to book within certain price brackets. So price yourself realistically but in a range that you are happy with. If you are not very well known, don’t undersell yourself but do the festival on a shoe string until you build your profile and get a foot in the door.
  • Some festivals won’t include unknown acts on their roster and some will. Have a look at past performers and you’ll soon get an idea if you can pitch for that festival or not.
  • You might have to pay for your own public liability insurance. This fee may put you off because the costs can get up there. Public Liability companies are easy to find online and easy to get a quote. Get at least three quotes to compare.
  • Keep your application clear in the areas of your genre and sound. Include links and info that best represent you live.
  • Look at artist bios that have played the festival previously to give you ideas. Draft your bio and get someone you know who writes well to fine tune it.
  • Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get on a festival. They are competitive but keep trying and if necessary, change your price point up and down. Check out other artists who have been successful and see what they present in terms of image, visual content and bios.

For more information on Monique or to speak to her, head to her website 

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