Why Booking Your Own Gigs Is So Hard (And How to Make It Easier)


When it comes to booking your own gigs, you can be faced with many reasons to give up.

You might do everything you’re supposed to and still get rejected. Maybe a venue says no outright. Or they don’t respond to your emails. Or they don’t call you back.

You get frustrated and start to wonder… Is it you?

Society typically teaches us that when something’s right, it should be easy. Doors should open, the right people should appear, the stars should align, and things should just fall into place.

But most of the time that’s not how it works.

Booking your own gigs — especially your first gig — isn’t easy. But it IS possible.

Today, we’re sharing the ONE major difference between the performers who succeed at booking their own gigs and those who fail.

Keep reading to find out what it is.

Why Booking Your Own Gigs Is So Hard

Before we get into what sets the successful DIY performers apart from those who struggle, let’s first talk about why booking your own gigs can feel like pushing a boulder uphill.

In short: booking lesser-known or unknown performers is big risk for a venue.

That’s because everything is an unknown for them. Will audiences show up? Will you show up? Are you going to be professional if something goes wrong?

You might read those questions and confidently say yes to all of them. But venues want you to prove it. (Which is why they often prefer working with booking agents.)

So, if you’re a freelance musician, how can you prove to a venue that’s never worked with you before, that you are worth the risk?

How to Put the Odds in Your Favor

When venues are nervous about taking a risk on you, there are a few things you can do to help ease their fears.

#1 Show them what they’re missing

Show an excerpt of the live experience of your show so that the venues can imagine how your performance will play out under their roof. Be sure that when you share your video, it’s engaging, entertaining, and memorable.

#2 Share the story behind it

Venues are run by people. And people are swayed by the meaning and purpose behind a project. Even if your performance is artistically valuable, if there is no story behind it, most venues will see it as less effective.

#3 Stand for something

Many venues also look for projects that are progressive, interesting, and relevant. When you stand for something — and demonstrate that stance in your performance — it helps you find advocates who may not otherwise be swayed by your work.

What do all three of these things have in common? You have to know yourself and be willing to share pieces of who you are.

On top of that, there’s one additional thing that venues look for virtually above all else…

What They Really Want: A Proven Track Record

A track record not only validates that your performance draws an audience, it also speaks to your reliability. Venues see your past gigs as proof that you will show up and can be counted on.

It’s a Catch-22. To get a track record, you need to book more gigs. To book more gigs, you need a track record.

And that’s what brings us to the difference between the performers who successfully book their own shows and those who don’t.

It all comes down to tenacity and determination. When it gets hard, the successful performers keep going.

We know of an ensemble who had to call 1,000 venues to get ONE gig.

Can you imagine?

If they had given up after the first 200 or 600 or 999 rejections, they would have missed the one big break that got them the traction they needed to move ahead.

Successful people hang on when everyone else has let go. Click To Tweet

One Gig Could Change Everything

If you feel like you’ve hit a wall and run out of options, ask yourself: Have I called 1,000 venues?

You might need to! You might need to call 2,000!

Many performers tell us that self-promotion feels like a full-time job, and it can leave you wondering if it’s really worth it.

We think it is. Because one right gig is like a crack in the wall. You can use it to leverage more opportunities, build your reputation, and even get some press.

But you can only get there if you keep at it, even when it gets tough.

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