How To Find Paid Gigs

The Shit:

I'll keep mine simple. How do you go about finding paid gigs?

The Cut:

This is the all-important question, the most elusive concept for bands and artists worldwide! As you may have suspected, there are no concrete steps that I can outline to get you paid, but I have some solid tips to get you in that direction.

1. Make friends with every single band member, sound guy, venue owner, bartender, roadie, merch person, etc possible. These are all people that, even if you think their band isn't great, could be the one to message you asking to fill a spot for a paid show or a tour opportunity. Some of my best paid gigs I've played have all been from that circumstance, a chance encounter that I made sure to connect with, and got hit up out of the blue. The more people you add on social media or keep in touch with, the better chance you have of that happening. Keep in mind that social media social media adds only matter if you post consistently about your music in a non-spammy way (I could write a book on that haha).

2. Don't waste time with low quality sites like Craigslist. I have found a RARE couple of cool opportunities through there but it's really a needle-in-haystack game, but instead it's needle-in-poo-pile game on sites like CL and others similar to it. Not really a direct piece of advice but this will save you time for sure! 

3. DON'T PAY TO PLAY. By doing so, you set the standard of "I will pay you to have the chance to play on stage with no guarantee of anything good coming from it, and will likely lose hundreds". I've watched some of the emerging underground bands get pay to play offers and consistently turn them down, sticking to their morals, and after they continued to build themselves up over time, those SAME venues come back around and want to pay THEM now. 

I can hear the keyboard warriors from here: "John we can say no but there are 1,000,000 other bands that will say yes so the venues will never learn". Ah, but you are wrong good sir. These venues pay to play with bands of low value because they know there's no other way to have them in without losing money, but they DO pay bands where they see they have draw and will make their money on tickets and booze. Playing free, while not great, still allows you to make friends with everyone that night, and you at least are mostly breaking even. You shouldn't have to go $500 into the hole to play to your friends.

4. Have a reason for venues to care. Or, should I say, have a reason for LISTENERS to care, and then use that buzz to make the venues care. I'd recommend checking out Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller to learn about creating a great narrative behind your music. If you can bring in 30-50 people at a venue for free repeatedly, you have demonstrated your value (bringing them drinkers) and can then leverage that into asking for payment, even if it's small to start.

Remember, venues need to see a REASON to pay you in the first place. Nobody cares that you play from the heart, are driven, have something to say, blah blah blah. That doesn't entitle you to anything. What people love, iiiiiiiiis .......... moneyyyy!! Once you can prove a track record of X number of people at your shows with ticket sales to back it, you have some clout. Get crafting your stories!


Bands Don't Avoid Their Fans

The Shit:

So my question is pretty simple, but I believe that it will help many upcoming talent and management hopefuls. What is the process of booking/organizing a tour or a festival or what goes into doing so? Sometimes it feels like tours are booked at the will of the artists and a lot of peoples feelings get hurt, as well as missing cities/states, and quite frankly I'm sure it is not to avoid playing there. So please, help me and others understand. Thank You.

The Cut:

There's two ways tours get booked, I'll go over them both!

- Bands with an Agent - In these situations (most bands who tour nationally and regularly), they have a specific booking agent who is handling ALL of the booking. The band/artist has very little to no say in the entire process, and it is mostly based around previous draw, statistics about where active listeners are located, or, if you're the support band, wherever the headliner is going. One additional factor is if the agent gets you on a festival across the country, they will craft a tour around that one show. There's also proximity clauses, so once you play San Francisco you can't play a show within X miles of the venue for X days, which will dictate your next tour.

One last consideration. A state with only one major city market just may not make sense to drive out to with the cities already planned around it. So there are states that get overlooked purely for that reason, but again there's not much anyone can do about these music "dead zones" in the country.

- DIY Touring Bands - Although they are TECHNICALLY in complete control of their routing, they are usually severely limited by their resources, such as gas costs, food, sleeping, venue "ins", and other various tour happenings. I always recommend DIY bands only book cities where they have a free place to stay, or a friends band that is there so they can help put together a good bill and make it a good show. 

A band in California often couldn't afford to go out to the east coast on their own due to the sheer cost of it, and the unlikelihood of them making that money back self booking each show themselves.

So, in both situations, the band isn't able to fully dictate where they play. Keep in mind that if a band could stay profitable on the road for years without stopping, bands would tour and tour and never stop, but there are so many variables to weigh out so bands tour in waves.

These bands are hungry to meet as many fans from their social medias as they can, and in my years of touring I've never heard a band try to avoid a city full of eager fans. So just keep supporting them and interacting with their posts so when it's time to book, the stats are reflecting your activity in your region! 

Berating Doesn't Solve Anything

The Shit:

Hey man, I'm sick of guys that have mediocre success and act like arrogant rock stars. A guy on my FB page posted that he didn't want people to tag him or pm him or ask to be on his shitty podcast or his no name record label. My question is: why have a record label and podcast?? Then ask kids not to share their music?? Am I wrong for blowing his ass out on FB?

The Cut:

Hey man... let me put this to you kindly, as people who aren't on our side of the glass aren't able to relate.

The moment you have anything in the public eye, such as a podcast, a label, a blog, a sick tour, or anything that people can possibly leech onto, they will come out in hordes to try and get a piece of it. It gets old, FAST. Everyone wants to use you now to get on the label, to get a guest spot on X or Y, and you realize that a lot of the people hitting you up on social media are selfish twats and don't care about you. 

To give you one more example, the moment I announced I was opening for TOOL, I had about 20 DMs a day coming in from strangers trying to get tickets, backstage passes, etc, to the point where I made a post telling everyone to stop and that messaging me just makes me mad at you.

AND, on top of all of this, we end up with people like you berating us for wanting a sense of privacy and peace from the swarm of leeches we face everyday. So yea, you were wrong for blowing his ass out.


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Hey, I'm John, the Shit-Cutter! 

I'm a music producer, mixing engineer, and touring drummer. I've learned a lot of hard lessons coming up in the business over the past 6 years. Throughout this time I've figured out how to solve any problem that came my way, no matter what needed to happen; this brought me here to help YOU figure out your own situations, to cut the shit, and get it done!

Feel free to visit our website to learn more about the production work that my team and I offer.