"I Came, They Saw, I Conquered"

I'm sure there are literally thousands of different ways to get a gig these days. Much of it depends on the genre, the kind of audience sought and many other variables. I've tried the "Internet" method of looking for gigs on SonicBids.com or on Craigslist, with inconsistent results. However, I have had particular success with a strategy that I call, "I came, they saw, I conquered". I really like to play coffeehouses, particularly those with an Open Mic night. And it should come as no surprise that most venues and presenters like to actually see a prospective artist perform in real life before booking them for a paying gig. So, rather than sending in a physical or electronic press kit, cold calling or reaching out by email, I tend to go to the open mic night for a venue that I'd like to play. I did that last week in Providence, RI when I showed up at the "Mediator Stage". I even showed up a little late but was able to make the sign up list. I've found that it's important not to actually perform too early in the list, so that you can better distinguish yourself from the other performers that might have less stage experience.

I treated my short 3-song set as though it was a full 45-minute performance, focusing on my vocal dynamics and trying to reach the audience with my music as best I could. To say the least, I got an overwhelming positive reaction, which was very gratifying. Immediately after my set, the venue booker had me booked as a feature there on April 3rd. It was a great night and the cookies were great too! This technique is useful in more ways than one. By distinguishing yourself at an Open Mic, you become part of the venue's "regular crowd", showing that you're not so "high and mighty" to be able to hobnob  with the locals and making it more likely that the same "regular crowd" will be there for your full performance gig. 

I find that the strategy works best also at venues where you have not been seen at before because people tend to pay even more attention to listening to the "new guy". If you're able to make yourself into "stand out" performer, there is just that much more impetus for the venue's booking agent to take you seriously and increase your chances of getting a gig. Now, I'm sure there are people that will say that the success of this kind of strategy depends on the quality of your performance as well as a host of other variables. All true. But I can think of nothing more compelling to a venue's booking agent than actually seeing you in their venue actually doing what you do to entertain an audience. No amount of marketing materials, press quotes and youtube videos can compare with the impact of live performance. Yes, it takes a lot more effort. But, as emerging artists, performing is what we are all about, right?

Food for thought.

Yours in DADGAD!

Rick Gottlieb

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