[Dixielandjazz] Getting Better Gigs

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Wed Dec 29 21:29:19 PST 2004

In a message dated 12/29/04 8:20:00 PM, barbonestreet at earthlink.net writes:

> We do it every year to replace the 10% or so of the past year's gigs we lose
> because of death or change in the booking contact, club/restaurant folding,
> Jazz Festivals that only use us every other year, or whatever. A fact of
> life in every business. You must prospect in order to remain viable, at
> least until you get Internationally famous, or hire an agent.

You still have to do it Steve even after you get Internationally famous, if 
you do not keep your name out there working to the ever changing public and 
promoters and venue buyers, etc., it can all be gone in thirty days because there 
are many thousands waiting to take your spot and or gig.

I think this is probably the largest problem faced by musicians and local 
bands dreaming about becoming big names and touring the world.   They basically 
have no idea what the competition is out there, and especially in Jazz, which 
everyone wants to play for the prestige that supposedly goes along with it.   
But given that it is even much harder and a much much worse situation in the 
rock and roll field because every kid in high school either has a band or wants 
one in his garage.

Any band that really is serious about becoming successful to the degree of 
making a decent living as a musical entity needs to fully understand the value 
of constant promotion.    You can't even get the serious attention of a local 
agent much less an International One unless you are doing something to support 
yourself and your image in the marketplace.    The Agent wants you at the same 
time everyone else wants you, ( When you are finally popular enough to 
consistently draw fans and customers in the number sufficient to pay for your being 
there and getting paid for your services), get to that point and your phone 
and the agents will start to ring because the promoters and venues will 
recognize you as a professional act whose picture and name and stories appear 
frequently in the newspapers, and Radio and TV.

I have met so many good unemployed or underemployed bands who marvel at the 
shitty bands getting booked on the good gigs in their area, which is bad 
enough, but when they learn that they are being paid more money than they can 
command it really drives it home.

How did this happen they always say?   Because the schmuck who runs or books 
that band knows how to promote it and sell it while the good guys sit at home 
and wait for someone to call THEM.

You want to get an Agent's attention, Go get a feature story on your band in 
the newspaper and if one does not call you within a couple of weeks for gig 
send them a copy of the article, and go get another article in the next cities 
newspaper.   This is invaluable publicity and promotion and it is FREE you do 
not have to buy an ad in the newspaper to get it.     

Go to a venue that you want to play and offer to do a benefit show there with 
the understanding that he will hire you if it is successful, it cost him 
nothing, but you might also try and get him to purchase a small ad in the local 
newspaper or buy a few radio spots on the local station to announce the event 
and your NAME (make sure your Name or Bands Name is foremost in all the p
ublicity, SHAMELESSLY, after all you are the one doing the promotion, and therefore 
deserve all the recognition you can get for the good deed and raising money for 
the worthy cause.

You can do this without being a nonprofit organization (surprised)?   Make 
the event a fundraiser for the Local school music program, etc., to help buy 
band uniforms for the school band or any other such cause.   There is no shortage 
of GOOD and worthy causes, however since we are musicians it would better 
serve our own interest to stick to such events and causes that contribute to our 
own interest to promote music, and in our case JAZZ music.

Now by doing these kind of events you can get greatly reduced rates or Free 
use of many venues such as schools, and community centers, and these self 
promoted gigs always inspire others in attendance to hire you to do one or more for 
their organizations, which you book at regular rates which you establish to 
them at this gig by letting them know that your "Expenses" for this Good deed 
were at least 50% of the gross income.  Depending upon how much you spend to 
promote and organize and pay your sidemen it could cost you 60-80%, but you will 
eventually figure out your own formula and be able to bring that figure down 
to a manageable level with consistency.

Now once you have the date set, and start to look for PUBLICITY,   contact 
all the entertainment reporters at the local and regional newspapers, try to get 
a feature story on the event and far enough in advance to get advance notice 
to the public.    Having the critic show up at the event and rip you a new ... 
hole for not drawing any people and having a flop event does nothing for you 
or your image.    Make the reporter try very hard to run the story at least a 
week or two before the event, then try and get the venue owner to buy the 
small ad in the entertainment section the week before the event,   Make sure you 
send it to every radio station as a PBS   (Public Service Announcement) all 
stations have to air so many of them a month, they welcome good ones especially 
if they come in advance a few weeks so they can plan to put them in between the 
regular paid advertising announcements.    Remember, how you treat the 
reporter is very important, be gracious and tell them how much you need their help 
for this very worthwhile cause and always offer to do a special favor for them 
in the future if they need you to do so.    They rarely call it in.   However 
they may do so by referring you to another gig and ask you to give their 
friend a break on the price, don't be afraid to do so as it will come back to you 
many times over and you will also get other gigs out of that gig.

Want some TV coverage, set up a promo performance at a local elementary 
school for the kids and contact the local TV news folks about it and your upcoming 
event that needs publicity, ask them to stop by the school to get a few 
minutes of footage for their public interest airing, :))   you will be very 
surprised that they are usually willing to help you out if you but ask.

Try to get on local talk shows, radio and TV to tout your event and your band 
and your new CD anything of public interest and tie in your worthy cause with 
it, heck while on the air with the radio or TV guy mention that you have a 
new CD and that anybody who contacts the station or DJ can buy a copy and you 
will donate 1/2 the profit to the worthy cause, also agree to do that at the 

Remember you are going to have at least 50% expenses so even with a split of 
profits you will actually only be giving away 25% of the money you would not 
have had anyway.   Plow the money back into yourself and more promotions, 
become a hero in the community and employ your band and book good paying gigs all 
over town and beyond.   Do not be Shy, get your photo in the paper at every 
opportunity, put it on the flyers, posters and anything else that make you 
visible to the oblivious public.

Wishing you all a prosperous new year.

Tom Wiggins

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