40 Alternatives To Playing In Bars

© 2010 Vinny Ribas

  1. Align yourself with a particular industry and perform at their conventions. For example, write and/or perform songs that would be of interest to or entertaining to medical professions. There are medical conventions year round and worldwide.
  2. Align yourself with a product or company. For example, network-marketing organizations like Amway and Mary Kay have large conventions that feature high-energy, positive live music.
  3. Align yourself with a specific music genre, such as folk music, bluegrass, blues etc. that have their own festivals and events.
  4. Get in with one or more affinity groups. Motorcycle rallies and classic car rallies are perfect examples.[private_member]
  5. Most churches use faith-based acts, but many also use acts that are just family friendly.
  6. Theme parks constantly hire all kinds of entertainment.
  7. There are countless private parties for which people hire entertainment, such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, Bar Mitzvahs, engagements, retirement etc.
  8. Conventions can be extremely lucrative, and they hire all kinds of musical entertainment, ranging from cocktail music to large concerts.
  9. Contrary to popular belief, playing nursing or retirement homes is not always pro bono. Many of these establishments have a recreation fund.
  10. Retirement communities usually have a clubhouse and often hire entertainment for dances, parties etc.
  11. If you truly put on a show, performing arts centers may be the perfect venues for you. These are also great if your act is driven by a particular culture (e.g. African drums)
  12. Cultural arts centers also hire cultural acts.
  13. High schools hire bands for dances and the prom (though many use DJs these days). You may also get paid to perform there if you combine some form of education with your music.
  14. Colleges hire entertainment for the student center, concerts, dances, the coffee house and more.
  15. Fraternities and sororities often hire entertainment for their parties or special events.
  16. State and county fairs are a great place to play if your act is family friendly.
  17. There are all kinds of festivals, ranging from ethnic events to holiday festivals and everything in between. (e.g. there is a Garlic Festival in California, a baby-jumping festival in Spain and a Wisconsin Cheese Festival!)
  18. Campgrounds hire entertainment for their campers.
  19. Arts shows/galleries often have music to set the atmosphere. Jazz or classical music are very popular for these events, but anything can fit depending on the show setting and atmosphere.
  20. Nonprofit organizations hire entertainment for fundraisers. Do a good job for a local branch of a national organization, and you may be able to parley it into gigs all over the country.
  21. Casinos hire every kind of entertainment. Many have multiple stages, showrooms, lounges, restaurants and more for which they hire music.
  22. Some beaches and boardwalks hire entertainment to set a fun atmosphere.
  23. Military bases hire entertainment for the their clubhouses. They also hire entertainment for special occasions like promotions, retirements etc.
  24. There are coffee houses and bookstores around the world that feature music.
  25. Marketing companies/departments often hire entertainment for the grand openings of a new store, a corporate headquarters etc.
  26. Many fraternal organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, the Royal Order of Moose (Moose Club), The Benevolent and Protective Order Of the Elks (Elks Club) have weekly or monthly dances. Their facilities are also used for every kind of private party.
  27. Many cities and states hire entertainment for their parks.
  28. During election times, political parties hire entertainment for their fundraisers.
  29. Cocktail parties are often held by companies as well as by individuals, often in their homes. Both hire entertainment.
  30. Country clubs hire entertainment for cocktail parties, pool parties, to set the atmosphere for dinner, for dances and for many other occasions. Their facilities are also used for all kinds of private and corporate gatherings, many of which use entertainment.
  31. Cruise ships hire entertainment for the dining room, the cocktail lounge, to play on deck, the showroom, the dance club and more.
  32. Resorts hire entertainment for their dining room, lounge, showroom and more.
  33. Many popular comedians, jugglers, magicians, ventriloquists and other variety artists hire opening acts to warm up the audience.
  34. Boat clubs/marinas often hire entertainment for their clubhouse.
  35. Renaissance fairs hire Celtic, Irish, folk, Scottish, Gypsy music, among others.
  36. Corporations use music for everything from cocktail parties to their Christmas party, and from their annual picnic to celebrations of various forms of success.
  37. Major sporting events such as Nascar races and NFL games often hire musical entertainment for their fans.
  38. House concerts, where you perform at someone’s house for them and their friends, can be very lucrative.
  39. Restaurants use entertainment to set a specific mood.
  40. Malls often hire entertainment for their patrons, especially during special events.

If you have performed somewhere that is not on this list (and they hire entertainment on a semi-regular basis), please leave a comment below. This will help everyone![/private_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.