Music Blogs

Bands: how to book a gig that will bounce!

  • By Trev@circlestudios
  • 13 October 2013


Circle Recording Studios in Birmingham's Chief Engineer Trev, our industry insider, talks this week about how to make sure you always pack a venue.

So last week we talked about the good, the bad and the ugly of gig promoters.  It occurred to me this week that my rumblings on that subject may have left you wondering: if you can't trust either little fish or big fish to turn out music lovers for you, what can you do? Over the next couple of blogs I'm gonna talk about that and, indeed, what should your strategy in respect of gigs be at all?
The key thing, in my view, is to actually have an overall strategy of which your gig schedule is just one part.  Because while having a punishing gig schedule may have its place in that strategy, it isn't a strategy all by itself.  
One element of your thinking needs to be what size of venues should you be playing?  I mean it would be great to play Madison Square Garden but, as I said in my last blog, there's nothing more demoralising than playing to an empty house.  And there's not much that looks worse if our almost mythical A&R guy turned out to see what all the fuss was about.  
If I think back to the best gigs I've ever played, they've been where the place is packed to the rafters and the house is bouncing.  How about you? Felt good didn't it? And the other side of that coin is that if the place looked like it was bouncing, and the band were really enjoying themselves, chances are you were playing better and engaging the audience too.  There's a whole pile of psychology bollox that can explain why this is the case but its way past the scope of this blog (and the capacity of my brain).  But anyway, if you feel the same way here's my secret on how you can make every gig like that. And it ain't rocket surgery... 
In short, ensure the venue you are going to play is always slightly smaller than the crowd you are likely to get in. While that might occasionally mean there will be a couple of disappointed fans, chances are that the buzz the following day, that you sold the gig out and people were queuing up to get in, will actually generate more interest in coming to see you next time rather than less.  This might even allow you to book a bigger venue! And of course the side effect of having a full house is that, if you deliver the goods, the atmosphere will be electric!  
So let's just talk about delivering the goods for a second.  You might remember in an earlier blog I said you should practice until your fingers bleed.  If you've been following regularly you'll also remember that I said every gig you do could be your shot at the big time.  That means every time you play you not only need to sound great but your look needs to be on brand and you need to do your damnedest to engage the audience. If they aren't your crowd you want to convert them and if they are, you want them to go away raving about you to their mates. 
And for the record, engaging with them means more than just saying " follow us in twatbook/myface" at the end of your set. It means making eye contact while you are playing. It means looking like a band already at the pinnacle of their career while on stage. It means teaching them a hook for the single you are about to release, or raffling a cd, or getting them to bounce up and down with you. In short it means, however you do it, you make sure they had a night to remember.  Do that and they WILL remember you.  And you might even turn them into advocates for your brand too (I suspect we'll probably come back to this in another blog...)
And finally for this week, did you notice above I said 'book a smaller venue'.  Just to be crystal clear on that... I mean YOU!  You don't like what local promoters are doing? Fine. Book a gig yourself.  Find a nice little venue (see above on how big little is), organise security, get yourself a sound guy (try to avoid the ones who appear to have sox where most human beings have ears), and start advertising.  Get your street team (aka your band mates) out selling tickets.  Make it a success.  But whatever you do,  make sure you actually do all of the things that you complain LF does not do. Otherwise we might be reading about you next week...!
The author of Machiavelli's Guide, Trev, is a record producer and Chief Engineer at one of the UK's top studios, Circle Recording Studios in Birmingham.  Check it out at www.circlestudios.co.uk. He has worked with clients from major and independent record labels across a range of genres from metal to hip hop.  This last couple of weeks has seen him on planes all around the world recording... actually, that's probably a blog for another day.  Anyway, go follow @circlestudios on twitter if you like the kind of inane rambling you get to read here. Alternatively, look up Circle Recording Studios Birmingham on Facebook.