If you’ve been playing in a serious band for a few years it can feel discouraging to see other musicians in your scene getting opportunities that you feel you’re ready for but just don’t have access to. Seeing friends in other bands opening sold out shows or supporting popular bands on the road can leave musicians who’ve been working hard for years wondering why they’re not being considered for the same important opportunities. Opening for the right show has the potential to bring a band notoriety, a larger fan base and resources they wouldn’t have had otherwise. But younger bands sometimes fail to do simple and effective things that could drastically improve their chances of getting on important shows. I’m going to give you a few simple tips on how your band can land coveted support slots in your local music scene.
Drop Those Demos
The most important thing your band needs to be considered for bigger shows is professionally recorded music. Those Garage Band demos you have posted on your Soundcloud page simply won’t do. Whether it’s a few singles, an EP or an entire album, you won’t be taken seriously by talent buyers until your band has produced music that’s been professionally recorded, mixed and mastered. This isn’t to say you can’t record and produce high quality songs yourself. In 2017, there’s never been more access to not only affordable and professional recording technology, but also an infinite amount of online guides and resources that can help you record and produce music the right way. Don’t bother trying to land spots on high-profile shows before you’ve taken the time to transform your demos into real, listenable music.
Learn To Pitch
Crafting a pitch over email that’s cohesive and persuasive is a skill that many newer bands fail to develop, but asking to be added to a show the right way could mean the difference between landing a spot or not. Try putting yourself in the shoes of a talent buyer for a second. If you get an email from a band you’ve probably never heard of that says, “Hi. Do you need an opener for 6/19?,” are you going to take it seriously? Probably not. If you want any chance of getting a talent buyer’s attention, you’ve got to at least provide basic information about your band, what you sound like, what you’ve accomplished and why you want to be considered for a certain show. If you can provide those crucial details in a persuasive way, you’ll have a much better shot at getting on a great show.
The pitches you come up with should feature proper grammar and correct spelling. You might be asking, “What does my music have to do with grammar and spelling?” Like any other industry, promoters, labels and talent buyers in the music industry won’t take your band seriously if your emails aren’t readable. We don’t often associate music with professionalism, but coming off as serious and professional in your correspondence with club owners and talent buyers will greatly improve your chances of landing coveted support slots.
Stay Ahead of The Game
If you want to open big shows for bands coming to your city, you’ll have to make a habit of checking the calendars posted on your local venue’s websites at least once a week. Staying in the know as far as what shows are happening in your scene will give you the opportunity to ask to be considered for shows months before they happen. It’s also important to gauge what’s happening in your scene as far as local shows go. Keeping your finger on the pulse of your local music community can help your band discover where you fit in and what you hope to accomplish locally.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Told “No”
You’ll most likely get a “no” from talent buyers when you ask to open high-profile shows even if you’ve done everything right. There’s a few reasons for this, and you shouldn’t get discouraged by them. The biggest reason is that larger acts usually bring bands with them on tour. Labels and booking agencies also choose bands to open for the acts they represent. Another reason your band might get turned down is for superficial things like not having enough fans on Facebook. It might be hard, but you can’t take getting turned down personally.
Something that happens with my band consistently is that we’ll ask to open a show, get told no for whatever reason and will get asked to open another show instead. Sometimes the show we end up with is better than the one we wanted. This is because we’ve taken the time to develop a reputation within our scene that’s built off of positive relationships with talent buyers, press outlets and fans. After time, the talent buyers in your scene will ask you to open high-profile shows before they’ve even been announced. Using the methods I’ve listed above, the bands I’ve been in have opened from everyone from Imagine Dragons to The Oh Hellos. There are plenty of amazing opportunities out there for tenacious bands who take the time to look for them.