As a teenage musician, I know how tough it is to find gigs. I also know how much you want to play out (why else would you look at this article?). First thing to remember: Music is a business. What does that translate into? Well, lemme ask you a question: Would you bring someone or something into your business that would cost you money? I’d hope you answered no to that; you’re business won’t last long! Now music venues make money on a few things: ticket sales, food, merchandise, and BOOZE. So by having teenagers, who will bring in more teenagers (who won’t buy beer ’cause it’s illegal), they are potentially losing money. But, fear not, there are ways to get gigs.
First off, record all your performances. Good or bad quality, sometimes this is all a venue will see of you. You can also record practices if you need music samples online. It’s a cheap, easy way to get “demos” online.
So how can you get gigs? Well, most likely, depending on your location, you’ll need to wait until summer. Many venues will offer “open stages” or “new talent nights” on their slow nights (usually Monday-Wednesday, hence the summer part. Those are school days, and where I live, the closest open stages are an hour away). Go to these when possible. This is how a venue will see if you are capable of playing on a Friday or Saturday night (the busy nights). Playing on a Friday or Saturday night is HUGE. Not only are you playing in a show with other bands, you’re playing in front of a larger audience, which in turn will get you more fans. So treat these slow weekday shows like it’s your biggest show ever!
Open mics are also good. Sometimes, they’ll allow whole bands to sign up and play a few songs. This is great because you’re surrounded by other musicians who possibly might want you to play with them! Check some of them out.
Network with other musicians. This means going out to local shows, getting an online presence, etc. Present yourself and that you’re in a band, and see if you can play a show with an already established band. This also helps when setting up shows. Network, and see about setting up a show with the “biggest” band headlining (who will bring the most fans).
Contact festivals!!! Learn about them early and email them before anyone else does (well, that’s not important, but email early) to see about booking a spot. If it’s a local festival, you probably will get a chance to play. If not, you still might!
Look for battle of the bands. I know many places have Battle Of The Bands open to anyone, and some specifically to teenagers.Even if you suck and don’t win, you just played on a big stage with a ton of other bands in front of a big audience and probably a panel of judges who, somehow, are in the music industry. Yeah, now all those people know about your band.
Use Craigslist. Yeah, it’s not the best, but hey, sometimes you’ll find someone or something on it that will help you get gigs. My first gigs came from Craigslist!
There are many options and not just these, but these are the easiest to do. When contacting places, make sure you are professional. wuld u hyre some1 who types liek tis? Or would you hire someone who talks like this? Remember, it’s a business, and teenagers aren’t normally welcomed in this business, so act more professional than your older counterparts. Also, send follow up emails. Maybe they lost your email, or never received it, or even, in some cases, sent it to another person who does the bookings and forgot to tell you. My rule is usually about 3 weeks. Be persistent, not annoying. Also, be prepared to play for “recognition” and not money. Why pay money to a band who brought 2 people who bought chips and water? Always remember, it’s a business.
To help you get started, here are some keywords you can try to google:
battle of the bands
festivals 2011 (or 2012, 2013, etc, whatever year it is)
Use your imagination. And dig deep. Don’t expect page 1 to say “EVERYONE COME PLAY HERE!!!!!!!!!”