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Sometimes, we as artist get so excited about booking a gig, that we forget to ask some very important questions. Hold off on saying "Yes" until you get the basics covered. Here's my list of the top 8 questions to ask.
1. Is this paid a gig?
- This is always the first thing I ask. And if there is no money involved, find another way you can capitalize on this opportunity. Will there be press at the event, will it expose you to a region that you have never peformed in, will others in the artistic community be present for you to network with? Whatever you do, make sure you know how you will benefit from this performance before you say Yes.
2. What Equipment will be available?
- I always like to know the type of microphone that will be available, especially since my show tends to involve alot of movement. Do they have a handheld or a headset and is there a cord attached? Also find out if there will be a microphone stand. Typically I like to bring my own just in case. Knowing what kind of equipment the venue provides will help you structure your show accordingly.
3. What format should I bring my music in?
- In the past couple of years, I have been providing my music on a flashdrive and DJs/Sound guys seem to always appreciate this format. But you still should alway ask ahead of time. Most systems do not have CD players anymore. I have found that venues typically request the music via email prior to the show and also ask you to bring your tracks on a flash drive and an mp3 player for backup (you can use your phone).
4. What does the floor plan look like? Is this show indoor/outdoor?
- It's always good to know what kind of stage you will be on, IF there's stage at all. If so, find out how big it is. Try not to rely on online photos of the venue, they can be very misleading. If you have the opportunity, visit the venue ahead of time if they are not able to provide you with measurements of the stage. If you will be performing outside, ask if there is a platform with a covering or will you be on concrete/grass. Never assume.
5. Is there a spot for me to set up my merch?
- If the venue is not going to provide you a table, bring your own! I've done this various times. Also, bring a lamp and an extension cord, in case you have to set up in a spot that is not well lit. Bringing merch should always be allowed, especially if your'e not getting paid to perform, this is an opportunity for you to make some money.
6. How much time do I get to perform?
- Most people ask for like 1 or 2 songs, but I like to go based on minutes because most of my tracks are medleys. Find out how much time they are going to allot you to perform. Also if you're doing the gig for free, keep the set short. If I'm donating a performance, I like to give a maximum of 5 minutes. It's what I call a teaser, give the audience just enough to fall in love with you but leave them wanting more.
7. May I have a soundcheck?
- You think this would be a given, but most event planners don't even think about this until you ask. So ask! Because most of the time they're just expecting you to walk in and hit the stage. So get there early! And if for any reason you cannot get a sound check, at least make sure you introduce yourself to the sound guy and build rapport, and do not hesitate to ask them to adjust your sound during your show. I have literally stopped singing mid-song because there were sound issues, then once we got it right, I started the song over. As an artist you put a lot of work into your rehearsals, we don't spend all that time just to have the show screwed up due to sound. Um, no.
8. Am I required to sell tickets?
- If this is something that the venue makes mandatory in order for you to peform and if you don't meet this requirement are you prepared to pay out of pocket to make up for your lack of ticket sales. Most venues only do this if they have no promoter and no marketing budget so they try to get the artists to do it for them. If you have a huge fan base that always comes out to your shows than this is a no-brainer, but if you are knewer to the game and are still building your audience, I would not recommend booking a show that requires to you sell tickets.
I hope my list has helped you feel better prepared to accept that gig. Please comment below and let me know of any other questions you feel are necessary to ask before performing and I'll join in the discussion!
Last Kim B. Performance: