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View Full Version : How to get a Gig - Help!



gmak
09-09-2011, 12:45 AM
Hi all,

My buddy and I have recently formed an ukulele duo, and we're at the point where we would like to perform publicly.

What steps need to be taken?

Do we need to provide references or a promo CD?

Any general tips on this subject?

Thanks!

dhoenisch
09-09-2011, 03:41 AM
I tend to mooch off of others as far as gigs. I play in a bluegrass/folk band and one of our singers does the work. But, basically, you can see if any libraries or coffee houses would let you gig. Most of the time, if they have an open slot, they will. May not get paid for it, but it's a good start. I know others gig, so you will get plenty of better answers than this one.

Dan

Trinimon
09-09-2011, 03:56 AM
Maybe you can check out some of the local bars, possibly some with theme nights?

UncleElvis
09-09-2011, 04:02 AM
Open mics.

Hit as many of them as you can and go consistently, week after week or month after month.
Busk, if you can. Go play in the park if you can't.
Video yourselves, both at the open mics and elsewhere, and chuck them up on youtube.
Get a CD together, if you can, or a MySpace page or one of the other band launching site... let me rephrase that... do a CD AND MySpace AND all of the launching sites. Put a site together for yourselves if you can. Make a blog and put up a video or MP3 every week.
Get a logo or graphic done for yourselves and go to [Edit: was asked to remove link. -seeso] and get stickers made and give them out at the open mics.
Get buttons made and hand them out.
If you can find some place to get tshirts done for REALLY cheap, do that, too.

And, loathe as I am to say it, get to know other musicians in your area and, most importantly, be REALLY cool to them. Not sycophantic or sucking up, but... just... be nice. Be supportive.

A ukulele is a VERY specific instrument that only works in certain places with a certain audience for a two hour set or a three hour night.
Make sure that YOU are very specific with what you do so that, if a gig comes up that you'd work for, people go "You know who'd be perfect for that? GMak."

buddhuu
09-09-2011, 04:10 AM
A few thoughts.


Contact organisers of local charity events and offer to play for free. A good way to get yourselves some exposure while being helpful at the same time.
CDs are defintely helpful, as are YouTube videos.
Be careful offering to play too many free gigs outside of charity contexts. I'm not saying don't do it, but local pro and semi-pro entertainers can get pretty heated up about losing gigs to amateurs who play for free. I have been a target of their disapproval with a just-for-fun band I used to play in.
If you're playing uke, an eminently convenient and portable instrument, then why not just take one along to a venue and offer to play a couple of songs there and then as a free sample. If you can get nods from a couple of punters it might win over the management.
The more gigs you play, the easier they are to get. Venues like to book people who can list other places they have played with success.
List yourself on your local equivalent of http://lemonrock.com/

patico
09-09-2011, 07:01 AM
hey gmak, have you ever played gigs before??

itsme
09-09-2011, 07:31 AM
You didn't say what type of material you are doing.

When it comes to open mics and coffee houses, some have an "all originals only" policy due to performing rights licenses or the lack thereof.

You can't play cover tunes of copyrighted material in a venue that doesn't have the appropriate licensing. At least that's how it works in the U.S. If you don't live in the states, YMMV.

Leodhas
09-09-2011, 09:48 AM
Ask. Local pubs/bars. It's that simple! Just ask, tell the landlord/owner what you do and offer a show for free on the proviso that if it goes down well, the next time you get paid (even if it's in drink)! Nevertheless, make sure you have your set off to a tee ! DO NOT wing it !

gmak
09-09-2011, 10:45 AM
Thanks so much guys! Really awesome input!

I've personally never played a gig that involved ukulele. I've performed in 5 piece local/reggae bands before, but nothing too solo-ish.

We've got 4 original songs down so far, but we're thinking of doing some covers too.

OldePhart
09-09-2011, 10:53 AM
I kind of get the feeling neither of you has performed publicly before (if I'm wrong, ignore this post). When you perform publicly you're really hanging it out there, and some venues can be really painful if you're not confident and "on your game." I once witnessed a very talented guy who was so much "on top of it" in informal jam sessions that he was actually annoying crumble completely and very embarrasingly at an open mic! This guy was talented, knew the songs, and played and sang very well. The annoying part was that he did all this so well that he would "take over" songs that other people started at informal jam sessions. The first time he got on stage with a mic in his face he pretty much fell apart! It was really tempting to be cruel but those of us who knew him rose above it. :)

Better to get your feet wet in supportive venues - try to find a local uke club that has periodic open mic nights - failing that open mic nights in other venues can be a good start. If you're looking for an appreciative audience and to "pay it forward" to your community, contact local nursing homes - especially if you guys are doing "tradional" uke music from the last ukulele popularity wave!

Be advised that if you've never played (and sung, presumably one or both of you is singing) through a PA then hearing your voice coming back through the monitors can be incredibly distracting the first couple of times. It took me several tries before I learned (mostly ;) ) not to chase my voice in the monitor.

John

OldePhart
09-09-2011, 10:54 AM
... I've performed in 5 piece local/reggae bands before, but nothing too solo-ish.

Ooookkay - looks like we were posting at the same time. Ignore everything I said 'cause it sounds like you've probably already discovered those things. :)

John

itsme
09-09-2011, 11:36 AM
If you're looking for an appreciative audience and to "pay it forward" to your community, contact local nursing homes - especially if you guys are doing "tradional" uke music from the last ukulele popularity wave!
This is so true! You won't find a more appreciative audience anywhere. It's a wonderful way to gain confidence in front of a crowd and work on your stage fright.

Oh, and the smiles and personal satisfaction you get from such unpaid gigs are absolutely priceless. :)

patico
09-09-2011, 12:55 PM
when i wanted audience to gain self confidence i started playing for my family. it was 10-12 people, not many but enough to make you stress on a solo perfomance.
next i moved to b-days or wherever people gathered.
i next moved to the subway station near my house.

my guitar teacher used to take us to church, spaniards nursing home, clubs, like medium venues

final step, before flying alone, accompain him in larger venues. i'd do 1 solo, 1 in duo, he completed the show alone.


since you have played in public before, it's just more of the same.
what i'd suggest, be very kind and happy in front of audience... HAVE FUN

PD: end the show with something very simple and very easy listening.... that last picture is what almost everybody keeps in the mind after you have finished the show. the best would be something easy to remember or whistle.

good luck

Nuprin
09-09-2011, 05:03 PM
It was said before, but open mics are great. My previous band did a bunch of them and got a few gigs out of it. The first open mic I performed solo on uke, the bartender came up to me after and gave me the name of the booking guy. He said I need to call him and set up a show. Unfortunately I only knew about 30 minutes worth of material so I didn't follow up on that.

I do have a show coming up early next month but that's through a connection I have. I'm friends with a local studio owner and he will often book nights at different venues around town. The bands he books are usually bands that he has recorded in his studio. He's doing a more mellow, folk inspired night next month and asked if I'd do a 30 minute set to open up.

sukie
09-09-2011, 06:05 PM
I kind of get the feeling neither of you has performed publicly before (if I'm wrong, ignore this post). When you perform publicly you're really hanging it out there, and some venues can be really painful if you're not confident and "on your game." I once witnessed a very talented guy who was so much "on top of it" in informal jam sessions that he was actually annoying crumble completely and very embarrasingly at an open mic! This guy was talented, knew the songs, and played and sang very well. The annoying part was that he did all this so well that he would "take over" songs that other people started at informal jam sessions. The first time he got on stage with a mic in his face he pretty much fell apart! It was really tempting to be cruel but those of us who knew him rose above it. :)

Better to get your feet wet in supportive venues - try to find a local uke club that has periodic open mic nights - failing that open mic nights in other venues can be a good start. If you're looking for an appreciative audience and to "pay it forward" to your community, contact local nursing homes - especially if you guys are doing "tradional" uke music from the last ukulele popularity wave!

Be advised that if you've never played (and sung, presumably one or both of you is singing) through a PA then hearing your voice coming back through the monitors can be incredibly distracting the first couple of times. It took me several tries before I learned (mostly ;) ) not to chase my voice in the monitor.

John

Still very good advice for some of us (me). Thanks, John.

buddhuu
09-09-2011, 11:39 PM
Actually, yeah. I'd forgotten how weird that is at first. A bit like hearing your recorded voice when you're not used to it.

For most of my gigs I've been a player in a band, not a singer beyond a few backup "ooh"s and "aah"s. Actual singing is a pretty recent thing for me. Since I started singing more up-front I've been rehearsing with a mic and with instruments plugged in. It certainly was odd at first.

I don't set up the whole PA for practice. I have an acoustic combo with mic and instrument inputs, which is great for practice and getting accustomed to working with a mic.

Ukulele_Lady
09-10-2011, 12:00 AM
I would definitely support the idea of open mic nights to start with..ukulele music needs an appreciative audience who aren't just going to chatter loudly over what you do, so these are a good place to find attentive audiences.

Another good place to start is as a support act, and then the pressure is off a little; do you know any bands or performers you could ask to open for? Again you have a nice supportive audience who also aren't really expecting too much from you..they're there to see the main action, so anything you do is an extra bonus. This is how I started and definitely found it less scary to be the supporting act at first, just while you're still getting used to performing / playing in public. The audience are usually in a good frame of mind, there to see someone specific and looking forward to it..and oh look here's some extra added fun I wasn't expecting..wow!

Oh my god, I'd forgotten about how scary it is using a vocal mic, at first I hated it, but now love it..it's just something that only practise will sort out really. Also..saying things down the mic between songs..banter..chatter..thanking the audience..it's tempting to just mumble and maybe even aim your comments only at your musical partner, but just say things loudly and confidently and address the audience. Hope none of this sounds too patronising, and GOOD LUCK!! I hope you have some enjoyable gigs, you'll be amazed by how many nice positive people you'll meet!

Jon Moody
09-10-2011, 02:29 AM
+1 on the asking around point. It's all networking and being in the right place at the right time.

strumsilly
09-10-2011, 02:32 AM
It took me several tries before I learned (mostly ;) ) not to chase my voice in the monitor.

John

Never heard this term before, what is chasing your voice.?

UncleElvis
09-10-2011, 03:46 AM
Ooookkay - looks like we were posting at the same time. Ignore everything I said 'cause it sounds like you've probably already discovered those things. :)

John

This is still AMAZING advice to anyone reading, Phart!
Don't stop postin'!

OldePhart
09-12-2011, 02:57 PM
Never heard this term before, what is chasing your voice.?

When you hear your voice in the monitor at first, it doesn't sound like you. You're hearing it the way people around you are hearing it, instead of with all the bone conduction stuff that alters how your own voice sounds to you. It's really easy to get in this "that's not right" frame of mind and try to make the monitor sound like you're used to hearing your voice unamplified. You (well I) invariably go off-pitch when trying to do that. I had to learn to accept that what was coming out of the monitor was real - and as long as it was on pitch I shouldn't try to make it something that only I have ever heard. Make sense? Or muddy the waters further?

John

OldePhart
09-12-2011, 03:04 PM
This is still AMAZING advice to anyone reading, Phart!
Don't stop postin'!

Heh, heh. Not much chance of that - I'm not the opinionator for nothing, you know! :)

John

strumsilly
09-19-2011, 12:09 PM
When you hear your voice in the monitor at first, it doesn't sound like you. You're hearing it the way people around you are hearing it, instead of with all the bone conduction stuff that alters how your own voice sounds to you. It's really easy to get in this "that's not right" frame of mind and try to make the monitor sound like you're used to hearing your voice unamplified. You (well I) invariably go off-pitch when trying to do that. I had to learn to accept that what was coming out of the monitor was real - and as long as it was on pitch I shouldn't try to make it something that only I have ever heard. Make sense? Or muddy the waters further?

John
yea, that kind of makes sense. I have been playing and singing at my church and bought a mike and amp[2 channel] so I could practice. definitely helps to practice using a mike, and yes, it is distracting at first to hear your voice amped. thanks for the explanation.

drbekken
09-20-2011, 01:15 AM
When you sing, make sure you look the audience in the eye. After all, you have something you want to convey, right? I still haven't played any live uke gigs, but I have gigged as a pianist and occasional singer since I was a teenager in the late 1970s, and I have this notion that singing with a ukulele makes it easier to actually communicate with the crowd. That huge piano thing sometimes gets in the way. And, as many others have said here, feel confident, and enjoy what you're doing. Last, but not least, do not be discouraged if your first gig feels awful. It may certainly not be your own fault...the crowd, the venue, the time...all that can be wrong. Keep working - on and on - and remember that even musicians have totally 'off' days, when nothing works and you'd rather go and bury yourself in some muddy field and never look at an audience again....until next time!

Leodhas
09-20-2011, 04:06 AM
I've personally never played a gig that involved ukulele. I've performed in 5 piece local/reggae bands before, but nothing too solo-ish.

We've got 4 original songs down so far, but we're thinking of doing some covers too.

Have you had your gig yet? If so, how did it go?

If not, why not have fun with the covers, change a few chords/lyrics to make the songs your own and interest the listener (that's just me, but I find strictly like for like covers a wee bit boring, simply doing the tune on a uke isn't enough for me).

Anyway, as I've said previously in the post, to get a gig ask! Just ask! If you get your gig, know your set off to a tee. Do not wing it (especially on a first gig). Like all things in life, the more gigs you do, generally the more comfortable you get!

The most important thing is to know your songs, practice, practice and practice breeds confidence, which is important.

Furthermore, if you're going to have a drink before hand, know your limit! Meaning know the cut off point from a wee warmer and being incapable of performing at your best. Some say don't take a drink before hand, but it's down to the person. I find a wee dram of the whisky helps relax (only one or two mind).