The Luv Doc
Getting Good Gigs
I am a drummer in a good band, but we can never get any gigs. We don’t do anything but rehearse. Clubs say they have too many bands already or that we are not the right style of music (progressive rock). When we do get a gig, it is always late at night when none of our friends can come to the show (we are all in our Thirties and our friends have jobs), and usually the clubs we get booked at don’t have any turnout anyway so there’s no chance of building a following. What is your advice on getting good gigs?
Anonymous, I am going to do you a solid. Even though you have robbed me of about half my word count with your goddamned sad-sack mewling, I will nonetheless try to take the high road and answer your question sincerely, even though every fiber of my being is in revolt against the thought.
Here’s my advice: If you want to start getting good gigs, stop thinking like a drummer and start thinking like a club owner. No, that doesn’t mean you need to find a young, hot girlfriend and develop a cocaine addiction. What you need to do is to realize that most live music club owners really do love music – so much, in fact, that they’re willing to spend almost all their time dealing with musicians.
No, seriously. Dealing with the beer truck guy takes maybe two minutes. Ditto on the liquor reps. TABC can be a huge time suck, but even they pale in comparison to the black hole of the sensitive musician’s fragile ego. Don’t be that guy. If you want to be a working musician, you have to do what every other worker does for his employer: You have to solve problems instead of creating them.
How do you solve the problem of an empty club with no alcohol sales? A club full of wealthy binge drinkers. You make that happen and you’re the club owner’s best friend. It’s really that simple. Well, actually, it’s exceedingly hard – especially in a town that is full of really great clubs and fucking spectacular bands, but if you want to be a working musician, that’s your job.
And maybe you don’t want to do what it takes to make that happen. That’s OK. Really. It’s OK. Have a band. Play music. Enjoy it. Don’t obsess about whether you’re successful, obsess about your music. Nerd the fuck out. Invite your friends to nerd out with you. Ask them to bring some beer. Invite the neighbors and have a fucking gig. Once you’re good at that you can move on to bigger venues.