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To do list when you're booked to perform

You'll Discover:

  • What's next after successfully booking a gig.
  • A workable timeline for what to do prior to the gig.
  • The importance of gig etiquette.

You’ve done your venue research, sent on an introductory email to a venue booker or two and have successfully secured a gig booking, so what’s next?

While there are many ways that you can go about planning for your band’s gigs, it can be easy to lose track of time and end up racing to get everything organised at the last minute.

To help, we’ve created a handy timeline and checklist for you to work through or reference against your band’s current gig planner. Some of our pointers might sound obvious (especially if you’ve been gigging for awhile), but we’ve also included some professional tips from industry experts to make your gig bookings and performances run seamlessly.


Rehearsal & live set planning

You should figure out the all-important set basics during early rehearsals.

Some of these basics could include:

  • What will your set involve and do you have enough material for a full set?
  • What’s the best song order to suit the vibe?
  • How can you arrange it to reduce time delays between songs (eg - swapping instruments, special tuning, special tech requirements)?
  • What are your band member’s preferred spots onstage?

Once you have the basics sorted, get together the all-important tech rider for seamless setup and soundcheck, no matter what venue you are playing at.

Read more on the importance of practicing and planning band changeovers, stage positions and more in our musician’s soundcheck guide.

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One month out

Marketing & promotion

Even though venues might bring in a regular crowd, their audience probably isn’t going to be enough to fill the room. Venues rely on you bringing an audience to see your show which means that how you promote your show is incredibly important (and can be the difference between one-off and repeat bookings). Not sure what you should be doing to promote your show or need more info on how to get people to your gig?

Read our guides on using Facebook and Instagram to promote your gig and band, plus our guide outlining the importance of hashtags and additional marketing hacks here.

Backline and tech

Keep in touch with any other bands on the bill, along with your booking contact at the venue. Figure out if you can share backline with other billed acts (e.g. someone brings drums, another person brings an amp). Venues generally have a limited backline. Not sure what’s on offer? You should ask to avoid organising this at the last minute. Sometimes venues will have an Audio Equipment List as part of their Technical Specifications document or on their website for you to refer to.

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Two weeks out

Marketing & promotion

Take the strain off yourself and your bandmates at this time by doing a final promotional push, reminding mates and family of the date, re-checking backline availability, checking in with any other bands on the bill, making sure all of your musical equipment is ready to go (including extra drumsticks, guitar picks and any gear you might need to borrow).

Backline and tech

Get in touch with the venue and ask if they will be supplying an event worksheet (if not provided in the original booking agreement for your event). You might even want to create one yourself, although generally a venue will lead on the relevant details. Worksheets should be emailed to everyone latest 5 days ahead but usually 1 week ahead. Explore worksheets and booking agreements through these links.

Financial details (if relevant)

If there is a cover charge for the venue draw up a rough budget and consider payment types (e.g. guarantee vs door splits). Even if the venue won’t charge patrons for your performance, they will have a financial set-up around live music so make sure you ask about that.

Find out more about band payment types, musician award rates and booking agreements.

Be sure to double check these things a week out from the venue too!

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On the night considerations

Food and drink sales

Many venues we spoke to while researching this Toolkit explained how expensive programming live music is.

It’s not just about paying performers - venues incur additional costs including staff time handling performer bookings/logistics, sound engineers, equipment maintenance and higher insurance premiums. Understandably, most venues expected to recoup some of those costs through food and drink sales. If your audience can afford it, encourage them to spend money at the bar on food and/or drinks. You should do this in the lead-up to the night on your event promotion & social media.

For example, do some specific posts encouraging fans to eat at the venue, share the menu and the kitchen opening hours. If it is for a free event, it’s good to reinforce that point and explain that dinner and drinks help to pay you and keep live music alive at the venue. Check the kitchen times before your onstage to encourage audience to order food and drinks during or after your set.

By doing this audiences are ensuring the sustainability of live music at that venue, and in turn, making it easier for you to get additional bookings there!

Gig etiquette

Gig Etiquette is incredibly important! Bearing these three (albeit obvious things) in mind can make the difference between being booked just once and being invited back to play at a venue again and again:

  • Be on time.
  • Be polite and say thanks.
  • Don’t get incredibly drunk/break people’s gear/steal other band’s rider/do other crappy things.

You’ll find a comprehensive list of gig do’s and don'ts, plus some tips from musicians, bookers, sound engineers on Music Industry Inside Out’s Guide To gig Etiquette. `

Need more info? You can also check out MusicNSW’s best practice guide on all things gig related titled ‘From Load in to Load Out - How to Play a Live show’.

And if you are yet to approach a venue for gigs, head here and read a handy checklist on how to do it.

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