15 Ways To Improve Your Chances Of Getting The Gig

© 2009 Vinny Ribas

Most gigs always have more than a few acts clamoring to secure dates. Here are some ways that you can rise above the crowd and increase your chances of landing the gig. 

  1. Don’t sell – build relationships. Venue owners and managers hear sales pitches all day from inexperienced sales people who are on a mission. Thus, their over-zealous phone calls just fall on deaf ears. The entertainment buyer is a person first, a buyer second. Every phone call you make should start off with talking about them before you talk about yourself. Use the phone rather than email because it is much warmer. Remember, people buy from their friends and known associates before they buy from total strangers. 
  2. Be prepared – Have everything ready that they may ask you to send them, so that you can follow up immediately after the call. That includes your EPK, a complete press/promo package, photos etc. Don’t make them have to wait weeks to get what they’ve asked for while you try to schedule a photo shoot or make a live recording. Have everything they might need posted on your website as well. Make it as easy as possible for them to do their homework on you.
  3. Do your own homework – Know what that venue looks for in an act. Talk to other acts who have worked there MORE THAN ONCE. Ask them what questions the buyer will ask. Ask them what is important to the buyer. Know without a doubt that you’re a perfect fit for the venue.[private_member]
  4. Be confident.  Let the buyer know that you have your act together, you’re professional, you’ve done your homework and you know that you’re a perfect fit for the venue. You have to do this without sounding arrogant or pushy, or with a high-pressure sales pitch. Ask them what is important to them (remember, you already know what’s important from doing your homework), and then tell them how you can accommodate them and deliver on those important aspects of the deal.
  5. Work yourself up to the gig.  Be certain that you’re not jumping too far out of your league in asking for the gig. Let the owner know the other comparable places you’ve performed and what the response was. If you’ve only played smaller or less prestigious places, explain why you feel that it is time for you to graduate to their venue.
  6. Ask how you can help the buyer. This question alone can open many doors for you! Every buyer has had bad experiences with artists. This happens at every level of the industry. Asking the buyer how you can help them achieve their goals or even put their mind at ease about hiring you shows that your first interest is in seeing them succeed. Ask if they need you to help with marketing (some places are busy regardless of who is performing, so they don’t need your help in marketing).
  7. Ask what the buyer’s expectations are. Again, this kind of approach is crucial in letting him or her know that you are looking out for their best interests. It also confirms whether or not you’re a good fit for the room. You may find that they expect you to do something that you can’t or are unwilling to do. For example, some cruise lines expect you to be a tour guide for their passengers, They assign you 10 passengers, and you’re responsible for showing them the ports, eating all of your meals with them etc. All of this is on top of performing. That might be something that you are not comfortable with.
  8. Be professional, on time, etc. Nothing turns a buyer off more than unprofessinalism. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’re going to be somewhere at a specific time, be there. Remember, you have a lot of competition, and you can bet that a good number of them will be professional.
  9. Be honest – don’t exaggerate. Never misrepresent yourself. Know your own strengths and weaknesses and match them to the gig. If you say you’re something you’re not, you’ll kill your reputation immediately. Remember that entertainment buyers talk to each other. They have their own trade associations and monthly meetings. Word spreads quickly about who’s good, who’s professional, who’s easy to work with etc. But the word about who’s amateurish, who’s difficult to work with, who’s not as good as they think they are etc. spreads a thousand times faster and is communicated much more emphatically!
  10. Never knock the competition. Acknowledge who has been successful in the venue, and if possible, compare some of their characteristics to yours. For example, you can say “I know you like the high energy of _________. Our acts are very similar in that respect.” Make the buyer feel smart for the good choices that he or she has made in the past!
  11. Have your schedule ready. You never know if a buyer has a hole in their schedule that they need to fill, and is willing to take a chance on you. Never make them wait, because they may get another call in the meantime from another act that was able to commit to filling that date.
  12. Have references ready. References give you credibility. They should be truthful references from other entertainment buyers. Every time you successfully finish a gig, be sure to ask for a reference letter!
  13. Thank the buyer. After your initial conversation, and after you have booked the gig, be sure to send them a formal thank you. An email can work, but a personal note that you email to them will definitely set you apart from everyone else. I can count on one hand the people who sent me physical Thank You cards in the past 5 years.
  14. Confirm everything in writing. Be sure that you confirm all dates, times, your wage and other vital details in writing. There’s nothing worse than showing up on the wrong date, at the wrong time, expecting more money than you got, finding out the gig doesn’t supply lodging (if you’re on the road) etc. Ask the buyer to acknowledge that all of the details you sent are correct.
  15. Do everything that you say you’re going to do. If you say you’ll call back in a week, call back in a week. If you say you’ll send out a press release for them, send it. Getting booked is just as much about your personality, integrity and professionalism as it is about the music you play![/[rivate_member]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.