Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Getting Better Paying Gigs in the Music Business


Have you ever wondered how you can land better paying gigs as a full or part time musician, performer or singer? Are you frustrated with trying to find gigs and getting doors slammed in your face?

Ever wonder why all books on getting gigs are long on worksheets and lists you will never use, and short on real-life ways to get the gigs themselves?

Your problems are solved with this book. In this easy to read step-by-step manual, you will be shown how you can use simple tools such as the telephone, fax machine and computer to drum up more business and get better paying jobs, without spending a fortune.

Written for both the amateur part-time to full time professional musician, this guide will show you how to get gigs, no matter where you live.

You’ll learn where the better paying gigs are and how to get them.

You’ll learn techniques on handling the people who can make or break your career, how to approach them, how to follow up. Avoid common mistakes and pitfalls most musicians make when trying to land gigs. It includes success stories by those who have achieved their goals using these same principles and techniques.

We’ll show you how to package your demo, press kit and presentation package to get maximum results, and how to follow up in a manner that will maximize your income.

Mark W. Curran covers all aspects of finding and creating your own gigs, including:

Clubs • Private Functions • Parties • Weddings • Caterers • Event Planners • Fundraisers
Country Clubs • Cruise Ships • Churches • Schools • Elementary • High Schools Colleges • House Concerts • Fairs • Festivals - And many more!

Don’t wait for your next big break. Create your own with “Getting Gigs.”

Special Indexes include contact lists and resources to help you jumpstart your career as a full time gigging musician.

“I recommend this book to any musician who is serious about making it as a gigging player.” - Ian McDonald, Chrysalis Records

“Unquestionably the best book ever written on finding gigs” - Michelle W. Benton, Warner-Chappel Music

“If you want to make it as a gigging musician, this book is one of the best you’ll find”
- Michael A. Lyons – Sony Records

“A clear and concise manual on finding and making gigs for yourself in any market”
- Arcy Donahue, CBS Records

Published by NMD Books


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Getting Gigs

This book is the result of thirty-plus years of paying my dues as a professional musician, singer and recording artist, and a career path that continues to this day. This experience includes traveling extensively throughout the United States with acts ranging from hard rock bands to being a solo artist with an acoustic guitar, singing originals, to becoming, in my mid-forties, of all things, a professional Elvis Impersonator, based in Los Angeles.

This book approaches the subject of gigging from the grass-roots level, aimed at “no-name,” unknown local performers who are ready to go out and play locally and start making money doing what they love. It also allows for growth by showing you how you can take your act from a local level to a national one, and beyond.

I’ve picked up quite a few insights, tips and tricks along the way that I know a musician or performer of any age in any pursuit of a career in performing live music can use to great advantage. Although the kinds of music being played change, as it always has, the rules of the game remain fundamentally the same. But the playing field itself has undergone radical changes.

The live music business has changed tremendously in the last twenty years. The shift from live club music to more specialized venues has made the market for live music much more competitive.

In the seventies and well into the eighties, a musician could work six nights a week at the local Holiday Inn or Ramada Inn lounge, even book a cross country tour of the lounge circuit and gig for as many months as they desired.

Sadly, it seems, those days are over.

A vast number of lounges have closed down due to economics, drinking laws, insurance liability, and just plain bottom line cuts. This slide began back in the mid to late eighties, and I have not seen any major shift back from this market condition. But that does not mean the end.

Market conditions, the economy, shifting social trends, all play an important role in any given business. And the music business is after all, a business selling a product.

Technology has played a big role in the way people get entertainment.

People have more options on where to spend their entertainment dollars. With the advancement of home entertainment systems and computers, digital satellite television and other diversions, as well as the trend toward a healthier lifestyle (non-alcoholic), it seems the lounges have seen their heyday.

In many ways, the going is a lot tougher than it used to be for the gigging musician. National “name” acts, backed by corporate dollars and conglomerate-owned radio stations, dominate the local markets at any given time, making it even harder for a local act to attract a following.

Advertising has gotten so expensive as to be often cost prohibitive for a local act to attract people to their shows, and flyers announcing such shows have to be distributed in such large numbers as to make them only marginally cost effective.

However grim the outlook on playing local clubs, there are many opportunities where the well-informed and motivated musician can find or create work. This book explores and outlines these opportunities, and provides a roadmap to follow.
To learn more about GETTING GIGS, please visit:

Friday, February 5, 2010


[Excerpted from the e-book “Getting Gigs: THE MUSICIAN'S AND SINGER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO BOOKING BETTER PAYING JOBS With or Without An Agent” By Mark W. Curran, available through nmdbooks.com]


Many of the traditional venues and methods for getting gigs are jammed with competition that it’s often very difficult to make any headway, particularly in a crowded market.

The solution to this is to create gigs where none existed before, thus being the only act that will do the gig. Here are some ways I have found useful. Feel free to invent some of your own.

Four Walling/Two Walling – Your Act In Concert

A fairly new business model has emerged from the new economy. “four- walling”and two-walling”venues. This involves renting or co-renting a club, space, or theater and doing the advertising and promoting yourself, as well as ticket sales. You take all or part of the ticket money, depending on your arrangement with the venue.

One extreme example of this is In Las Vegas. Almost all showroom performers rent the casino showroom, either with their own production companies or in partnership with a producing entity. Sometimes they are partners with the casino, sometimes not. (See the Chapter on “Making It In Las Vegas” in my book, ‘Getting Gigs,’ for more on this.)

But for our purposes here, we are talking about your going to a venue on your own in your community and renting out the facility with your own money.

This can be great for an act with a great draw, but disastrous if people don’t show up. The public is fickle, and one can never predict in what numbers they may turn out to see an event. Many is a concert promoter who has gone into bankruptcy this way.

I have had some successes “Four-walling” my act and other tribute acts into small theaters. It’s a high risk gamble, and if you can’t afford to roll the dice, don’t do it. I have friends who have made money producing tribute shows and even name acts into theaters, but even they will tell you that sometimes they lose as much as they win.

As a Producer/Promoter, you are responsible for everything. You would be amazed how many details go into producing even the smallest show. There are contracts to sign, insurance policies, printing, and advertising and promotion tasks. There are an endless number of jobs that must be performed to an exact timetable. Screw up on any of them, you could lose your shirt.

But when it goes well, it can go very well. Let’s say you rent a 1000-seat venue for $3000, plus $1000 for the house sound and lights and stage personnel. Add in another $1000 for box office services and miscellaneous things like insurance and catering, you are in for $5000. Add to this your advertising costs of say, $2000, and another $2000 for your band and opening act.

So now you are in for about $10,000, as an example. If you sell your tickets for even $20, that’s a 10,000 profit!

But you must factor in the many weeks of prep it takes to produce and promote the show, and that you must sell every seat to make that kind of profit. At half capacity, you’ve only broken even.

Believe me, it’s no fun putting months of work and $10,000 of your own money into a show and have a bad turnout. If you are performing on top of that you are in the unfortunate position of having to work your ass off, perform, and still lose money!

Remember, this can go the other way. It’s a great feeling selling out a show and walking away with decent profit, and in the process be able to play on a large stage to an appreciative concert audience.

There are so many factors and variables that can affect the turnout greatly: Is it a weeknight (less than ideal) or a Saturday (ideal). Is it a holiday weekend, (avoid it) is it raining/snowing that night? (you have no control.)

Is the economy in a downward cycle? Are we in a war with yet another foreign country? Are you under pricing or overpricing your tickets? Is the theater well-trafficked and have they had your flyers in the lobby for sufficient enough time as to attract patrons attending their other shows? Have they included you in their season mailer, even if they aren’t presenting your show as part of their season?

The public is so sensitive to these issues it can prevent them from venturing out of their cocoons for any kind of event. Add to this that there are many choices for people to spend their time off and their entertainment dollars.

Even staying at home can be far preferable to going out and enduring traffic, crowds, and a potentially bad show. With home theater and gaming systems in almost every home, plus internet and other distractions, you can see that getting people to go out to your show can become a difficult task at best.

But, let’s say you are a single acoustic performer with a large following. Since you have no costs for a band, you can take the ticket money for yourself. If you book a smaller venue of 500 seats and still charge $20, you could walk away with a tidy profit, since the cost of the theater rental is less for a smaller venue and you wouldn’t be paying a backup band.

To offset your risk, you might consider “two walling” with the venue, meaning you split the profit/loss equally with the venue. If it’s a theater, you simply split rent and ticket money. If it’s a club, you might consider taking the door ticket money while the club gets the drinks and food.

This way you can see what your turnout will be and then maybe take your act to a nearby town and try four-walling another venue yourself.

You will find smaller theaters are more willing to help you than larger ones. In fact, in Los Angeles, many of the larger theaters have a strict policy to NOT help you promote.

They are committed to promoting their own season shows, and often feel that to help fledgling promoters pulls their focus away from their own projects. But also be aware that many smaller theaters have little staff and can rarely afford someone to help you market your show.

If your act has a major following or some pre-sold elements (as in a tribute act) and you think you can fill those seats, you just might have the perfect situation for a successful four-wall. But proceed with caution, this is an area where you can lose money in a hurry!

If you do decide to four-wall a small theater, make sure

- Start early; six-twelve months is a nice window
- The theater is well attended by patrons throughout the year, so they will see your flyers in the lobby
- The theater is at least somewhat open to helping you market your show
- You get a Saturday night for your show, not a weeknight
- You do a prize drawing to get your audience to join your mailing list
- You have theater include you in their season mailing
- To have theater include you in their newspaper advertising
- To promote your show using flyers, email, and posters
- You start promoting at least 3 months in advance of date
- To try to find local businesses to sponsor your show to offset cost

Finding sponsors to contribute to your show in exchange for an ad in your program can often make the difference between loss and profit. But finding sponsors is a tough, time consuming job, and can become a very difficult pursuit on top of your other duties.

You may be able to find someone within your sphere of influence to make phone calls to local business on your behalf to solicit donations in exchange for a percentage.

Four walling can be a very satisfying way to build your audience and make a profit. It offers a great way to get your name out to the local community, and allows you to sell your merchandise after the show.

Make sure you have some money put aside so you can four wall a number of theaters in different regions, within driving distance or one overnight stay. As these shows become more successful, you can schedule them as an annual concert, while expanding your circle around your home base radius.

Mark W. Curran is Los Angeles-based professional musician and singer as well as a well-known expert in the field of music marketing. He is the author of “Sell Your Music: How To Profitably Sell Your Own Recordings Online,” and “Getting Gigs With Or Without An Agent,” both available from NMD Books.Com.

[Excerpted from the book “Getting Gigs: THE MUSICIAN'S AND SINGER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO BOOKING BETTER PAYING JOBS With or Without An Agent” By Mark W. Curran, available through nmdbooks.com]