Breaking into the Toronto Gig Scene
Local Toronto band CATL play live at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto

So you’ve put the band together. The lineup sounds fantastic. You’ve gone from jamming to rehearsing and now have a 10 song set, with nearly 45 minutes of music. Everyone’s on the same page. Your feeling the sound. You just got the EP recorded and now are looking to take on the world. The only problem is you need to find some gigs. What are you to do now?

This is the problem with many bands. You’re trying to find places to play but can’t seem to find any bars willing to give you a shot? There are a few questions you can ask yourself as to why it is difficult to find gigs. The following is a list that can help get you moving in the right direction.

1. Does anyone want to listen to my music? As artists  we are proud of our playing ability and taste in music. You have to ask yourself, is my music marketable? You invented your own genre of psych0-thrash-polka-surf-grunge, and that is great, but does anyone want to listen to it?

Make sure when you come-up with a brilliant idea for your “sound” and “genre” that it actually has marketability. Otherwise, only mom is going to buy your CD and come watch you play on the Monday ‘New Band Night’.

2. You have to bring people out to shows to see your band. Everyone thinks that bars supply the ears of your next fan but that is a misnomer. Unless your well known and signed to  a major label, any bar you play is going to ask you to bring a minimum of 20 people to come see your act.

I know it sounds ridiculous but that is how it works in Toronto and probably every where else. Oh, and don’t forget the sound guy always gets paid first so you can deduct the first $125-150 from the door to give to him.

3. Use social media to promote your shows.  Social media is everywhere. You can’t ignore it. There is no better way to promote your shows, music and band then with the many different social media sites out there. You can use twitter to tweet news about your band. Follow people and hopefully they will follow you.

Get on Facebook and create a fan page for your band. You can communicate directly with fans by posting show dates, photos from shows and videos. It is a great way to develop a fan base. It’s free and there are lots of tools you can leverage to promote your band.

For every gig you have there should be a specific event page created for that show. you can send out updates on your timeline and all your fans will see them.

Youtube is the 2nd largest social network and is a treasure trove of on line videos from all your fav bands an music. Have a friend record your show or rehearsal and add the video to your Youtube channel. Hi-res video is the best.

There are also music specific sites for band promotion. Reverbnation, Myspace, bandcamp and soundcloud are all excellent websites you can create an account on to promote your music for sale, show dates, gaining fans and adding video and photos.

If you are not using one of these sites I strongly suggest you at least sign-up for one of them. They’re all free and have certain paid extras you can use to promote with.

4. The Band is a team. Yes! I said it. We all know musicians have egos. Sometimes you need to put the ego aside and do what is best for the band. This goes beyond making music together and includes how everyone contributes to the band in a non musical nature.

All band members have a stake in the success of the band. That means all members need to buy into the team concept and work together to help promote the band and find gigs. How difficult is it to send an email out to  a  friend and let them know about your gig next Thursday?

If one member is doing all the work it’s not going to work. Maybe one person has a lot of connections and are getting the leads for shows. The other members need to help them out and pull up the slack.

Posters need to be designed. Websites and media channels need to be maintained. Photos and video need to be shot. Songs need to be written. Gear needs to be schlepped to shows. Promotion needs to be promoted!

Being in a band is not easy and it takes all parties involved to get the most out of the experience. Finding gigs even more difficult. But with everyone picking up the slack, you can make sure that you are putting in the best effort to find the shows and gaining the fans for future shows.


Be Sociable, Share!