how to book a gig

How to Book a Gig as a New Musician in 2023 (In 10 Steps)

Gabby Zgrajewski
Gabby Zgrajewski

Music is one thing, but a band’s back-end business management is another. There aren’t always tools and tricks available to tell musicians what to do and where to go to get their name out there. 

If you don’t know how to book a gig, the process can seem be daunting, especially if you are wanting to do your first of many headline shows. Whilst the idea is exciting,  there is a lot to consider; support acts, venue, date, payment, and the list goes on. 

Below, check out the list of to-dos and how-tos for booking a gig and getting your headliner shows started. 



Before booking your first headline show or putting together a lineup, research needs to be completed. This is to ensure the venue is right for you, and that you are right for the venue. 

1. Use your music connections

You can’t put on a show unless you have other acts to be on the lineup. Using the networking skills we’ve discussed in our Extended Networking Guide, go to some local shows and connect with other musicians. Find a few acts that you mesh well with and open the conversation of doing some shows together. 

Reaching out to bands and expressing your interest in their music can also help create those connections. To start, all you need is a couple of bands to get together and play with. Depending on the types of shows you want to play (whether it’s consistency in genre or all types of music), the network you have is the base of the shows.

2. Research live music venues

how to book a gig
Image credit: Unsplash

Once you have the network together, researching venues and bookers is a priority. Making a list of venues that you are keen to play or are your go-to locals will help figure out where to play and whom to have on the lineup. Check out the types of genres and shows that the venues host. This will give you an idea if it is the right place for your band.

Reach out to your connections and talk to them about their experiences playing shows at those venues. What payment options are available, the capacity of the venue, and what genres it typically hosts are good questions to ensure it is suitable for your band. 

Head over to the Muso App for shows and venues looking to put on a gig (that is what we are here for!). With a minimum hourly fee of $75 for musicians, we take away the scariness and uncertainty when booking shows! If you aren’t already with Muso, check out our FAQ’s page for more information. 

3. Sort out your gig days and dates

Keep in mind when starting, Friday and Saturday headline slots can be hard to secure. Depending on the venue, they may reserve these nights purely for larger bands that will sell out the venue and keep the bar running all night. 

Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday shows may work in your favour to begin for headline shows. In the meantime, ask around for weekend show support slots to build your following online and offline. This can help boost your fan base and show venues where your music can fill the room. 

Depending on the time of year can affect the shows you secure too. Festival season and end of the year are tricky to book headline shows as a small live band. As bookers finalise their events for the year by October typically, and festival season has reserved spots for side shows, make sure to book in advance for dates that will ensure a crowd. 

4. Send the email!

If you are sold on playing there, find the contact details of the venue booker. These details can be found typically on social media or the venue webpage. If you are struggling to find it, ask around to other bands you know and see if they have the contact details. 

When contacting the venue, it is helpful to have an electronic press kit (EPK) available with information about your music and demos or released music. This is to help the booker get a grasp of who the band is and the music you play. 

Include a list of the other bands on the lineup and proposed dates within your email to the booker. This is to ensure they have all information, streamlining the process of booking your show. 

As we can all fall behind in emails, let the venue have a week to respond before following up. Although, make sure your email is friendly and relevant to the relationship you have with the booker. 

5. Confirmed the show? What’s next?

Congratulations! You have successfully booked a live show at the venue you wanted. The hardest part is done, although there are still a few loose ends to tie. 

When discussing formalities of the gig with the venue booker, ensure to ask as many questions as possible to be prepared for the night. 

6. Music venue equipment

how to book a gig
Image credit: Unsplash

Most venues now have the basic house equipment for live music. All you need to bring is a snare and cymbals if you have a drummer, your instruments and any extra pieces specific to your performance. We have made a list of all equipment required for the venue equipment, so confirm with the booker what you need to bring to the show. 

7. Live venue staff

Confirm whether you will need to source your sound or lighting tech for the night, door person and merch person to help out with the show. Some venues have staff available to cover these jobs, although it is always better to confirm whether you need the extra hands or not. This can save a world of stress on the day. 

8. Show payments and ticketing

Discussing with the venue about payment options and ticketing for the event is important. This is to ensure you are getting paid for your work, along with the other bands. 

Speaking with the venue manager, ask what options there are for payment. Whether there is a flat fee and the show is free, or a portion of ticket sales go to the venue and the other portion goes to the band is a hard conversation to have, but is vital. 

9. The extra information

The extra bits and bobs to discuss when booking the show include whether you or the venue are providing a run sheet for the night, if there is a rider and venue loading times. 

Ensuring that all information is covered is a priority. This helps your reputation as a musician and rapport with venues! 

10. Keep the music management going

After booking a few shows, keep a spreadsheet of the venue and band contacts as a go-to for yourself. This helps keep track of where you have played and where you want to play in future. What has been discussed in your email threads can be added to these spreadsheets to determine the best venue for upcoming shows. 

Once you have booked your show, start marketing the event on your social media. Get your PR hat on and encourage your followers to come to the show. Check out how to market yourself as a musician on Instagram to get some more information on how to get online exposure. 


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