Advice Clinic

How To Get Your First Gig

25th August 2017

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It’s the natural progression. Band forms. Band sucks. Band practises. Band improves. And at a certain point, band gets tired of knocking about in a rehearsal room that smells of armpits and decides to take on the toilet circuit. But how the hell do you get your foot in the door? 


#1. Get out there on the scene

You won’t hear about opportunities if you’re sat in your bedroom picking fluff out of your toenails. Be an active participant in the local scene, befriend other bands, let it be known that you’re up for a live run-out – and you’ll be first to hear when there’s an opening. If your phone doesn’t ring, get proactive, rope in a few bands and start your own club night.


#2. Choose your venue wisely

There’s no point approaching your local O2 Academy or that scary pub where skinheads glass anyone who stands in front of Sky Sports. Work out which clubs and pubs within striking distance put on bands of your style and stature, then approach them by email, followed up by a phone call.


#3. Sell yourself

Nothing makes a venue-owner sweat like an untested band who might turn his bar into a ghost ship. Your job is to convince him that you’re worth the risk. Record a professional demo. Set up a credible website. Offer to play an audition. Tell him how many beer-swilling friends you can rally, and back this up with some evidence of your social media following.


#4. Swallow your pride

Propping up the bill in a sticky-floored sweatbox can sting your ego, but chalk it down to experience and remember that even the legends started small. Spare a thought for U2, for instance, who debuted at a 1976 talent show in their school canteen – and didn’t even win.


#5. Have a dry run

If you’ve got a mate who’s about to turn 21, offer to play at their birthday party. It’s a great way to get your band off the mark – with the added bonus that if the gig is a cider-streaked car-crash and the drummer pukes on his shoes, nobody in the real world need ever know.




Henry Yates

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written for music magazines including Classic Rock, Total Guitar, Guitarist, NME and Metal Hammer, and brands including V Festival, Download, Epiphone, Yamaha, Roland and Universal. His proudest career moment was meeting Jimmy Page - and his toughest assignment was interviewing Pharrell Williams."