If the only thing standing between you and playing your next gig is someone saying "YES" to your artist pitch, then this one's for you.
When it comes down to it, the actual live performance is only about 20% of what it takes to be a full-time musician. Practise aside, the rest is dedicated to behind-the-scenes legwork like marketing, pushing music content to a wide audience, getting your EPK together, networking and of course, nailing the perfect pitch. It's hard enough for a hustling artist to find the right live gig opportunities to suit their music act, which makes pitching to the venues that you do want an essential art. - Seriously, they should teach this in school. Talent isn't everything, but your artist pitch just might be. So let's get it right and land some gigs!
First off, research the venues and events that you want to play
The best way to research a live music venue is to attend a gig firsthand and scope out the place. Check out the other acts on the lineup, talk to the bands playing and make friends with the bartenders. It's always good to go on a few different nights so you don't miss out on a venue that could have been the one! We know how devo you'd be if you missed out on the alt-blues spot you've been dreaming of, but missed out on, because you didn't realise it happens at a hip-hop venue, every second Sunday of the month!
Once you’ve got the lay of the land, it’s time to take stock of a few things like;
Venue capacity and if your act can realistically fill the room/space
Whether your band suits the venue lineup(take note of bands)
The sound capabilities and equipment at the venue and whether the space can accommodate your setup
The nights you think your act would best suit the venue
If your fans would dig coming to see you at this type of venue
The more you know about the venue and its music offering, the better your chances are of delivering a pitch that ticks all the boxes for their live entertainment bookers and promoters.
Next, find out who’s running the show - the live music show that is
Making friends with the venue staff and regularly rostered artists is crucial to finding your way into a firsthand dm with the right booker or getting their most direct point of contact. Getting a firsthand recommendation or shoutout from the venue staff or band that’s already playing there will give you a leg up in the process, especially since most promoters are difficult to pin down. If you can’t find anyone to talk to then chill, because you aren't out of luck yet. Sending an email or directly calling the venue is the next best bet.
What’s the pitch?
Alright, so you’ve initiated face-to-face contact or scored an email address, and now it’s time to blow them away with the perfect pitch. Plan your artist pitch strategically, and only include the best and most crucial information that's sure to grab their attention. A few words and ace credentials get the job done, and forward-planning guarantees success. Let the music do the rest kids!
Remember the dos:
Do make an in-person artist pitch the length of an elevator pitch so practise it on a mate first
Do keep to your highlights and achievements like whether you’ve released an album, biggest gigs, tours, and other credentials that speak to your experience. - There’s no need to brag though, we get it, you're awesome.
Do have your EPK ready to send off
Do include appropriate links to youtube, SoundCloud music and publications that paint the best picture of your performance capabilities and persona.
Do include dates and time slots that you’re available - plus whether this potential gig is a tour stop
Do use personal details like venue names, people you’ve spoken with, and the name of the person that you’re emailing
Do ask for feedback if you don't get a yes so that you can improve, but don’t be pushy
Do remember that you'll probably hear more nos than yeses, but you’re sure to miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
If you feel as if your accomplishments are few, just remember that the fact that you’ve made it this far is already an impressive feat in itself. Venues are always on the lookout for fresh talent and the next best act to bring to their customers. Above all else, be yourself!
Remember the don'ts:
Don't use excessive wording about influences and band history(save it for the artist bio on your website and EPK link)
Don't overload emails with attachments, links and pdfs - save them for the EPK and website
Don't follow up too many times and push for a slot
Don't offer to play for free - just, no.
Check out our article on how to write an artist bio here
Remember which venues you have approached and note down contact details - you never know, they might be available in the future and this way you’ll add them to your contact network!
Be sure to follow venues on socials and show your support
Keep showing up and become a part of the venue culture. This might turn a “no” or “maybe” into a “yes!”
Get your EPK up to scratch and build up your socials! Content and social presence is the most valuable asset in your music repertoire, even if it’s just a video of you playing at home.
A handy email pitch template:
Subject: *Insertcute performance request here Email body: Hey/G’day (name of venue or booker or promoter),We’re (act name) and thanks to (contact/the lovely staff) at (venue) we’re told that you’re the one to speak to about upcoming availability on your gig roster. Our band is fresh on the scene this year, but we have a few shows under our belt - performing at (venue name) and (festival name). We’ve also released a few singles this year and were recently featured on triple j unearthed. We love your venue and after scoping out the place, reckon we’d be a great fit for (nights, times). We’ve included our EPK and website details for your perusal, which includes links to our performances, recorded music and some press. Thanks for taking the time to check us out and we hope to hear from you soon. Cheers, (Band name)Contact details:Name, phone numberwebsite and EPK links
And that's the pitch!
When trying to put yourself out there and approach new venues, the toughest part of the gig is remembering how much you have to offer. By getting your artist pitch in order, your band will always rest assured knowing that it nailed the sell, and be more confident in letting fate take care of the rest. It really is just a numbers game, and remember that a "no" now, doesn't mean a "no" forever. Stay on the scene and keep showing up and surely enough, the next open gig slot will have your name on it. Why? Because your pitch was so hot.
You got this!
Feel like you're in the gig space but are too shy to make contact? Team Surreal has got you!