How to Get Out of the Nightclubs and Into the Better Paying Private Gigs


A cover band can perform in nightclubs forever and make a decent living making minimum wage. By minimum wage I mean one hundred to a buck and a half per night for a three to five hour performance. Anything over three hours starts going down hill after the third set. A five hour gig in a nightclub, or anywhere for that matter, turns into hard labor. It takes the glamour right out of it. The musician union is strong in the Northeast and most probably saves most of you yankee rock & rollers from playing five hour gigs. Not so in the Southeast. I have played gigs, house gigs mind you, that started at 9:00 pm and ended at 4:00 am. Another gig I had when I was a little younger started at 11:00 pm on Saturday night and went to 7:00 am Sunday morning. Unless you are there for the party it was pure misery. Anyway, a lot of musicians want to get to a better, more level playing field and that is why I am writing this article.

Some people call it a “Press Kit” or “Promo Material” or “Support Material”. Believe it or not, that is a main ingredient to getting better paying gigs. Not only better paying but better hours, better environment and a much higher class of clientele. Great looking promotional material commands better money. If you think your band should be making $3500.00-$4500.00 per gig, your promo package has to reflect that. You could be the best band since the Stones or Journey but, if your promo is crappy then the really good gigs will be few and far between. Of course your support material must be accurate in the description of the band. A good professional promo package should include a couple different photos. The photos need to be taken by a professional photographer. This can get expensive so check around. Maybe someone in the band knows a photographer. Not a friend with a high dollar camera, a photographer. There is a big difference. A professional photographer will take note of everything in the photo, not just the subject but everything from the background, lighting the poses, everything. Once you sink money and time into a photo shoot you do not want to get a great looking photo of your band with an electrical outlet beside a leg or a light switch on the wall between the drummer and bass player. Do some homework. Look at photos of national acts, world wide acts. If you get a good photographer, they can get the same effect.

The all powerful song list or play list is a must in any promo package. It should be neat, clean and easy to read. Putting the songs in alphabetical order is the best thing to do. That way, if someone is searching for specific songs to be played at their function, they can easily find them. Always include the artist. If a song has had several remakes, list the most popular artist. The promo package should also have at least two pages of performance history, two pages of references and or testimonials. If your band is tied to any type of community effort like fundraising for a particular entity or performing free each year for the Metropolis Department of whatever, make sure you include that, not as tooting your own horn but rather to bring awareness to the project. In other words, follow through with your commitment.

Last but not least, the band bio. Keep the band bio short and to the point. Two paragraphs with three to five sentences is enough. Who are you, what are you, what have you done and what can you do for me and my event. Use just enough hype to keep it upbeat or exciting. Band member bios are totally unnecessary.

I’ve performed in cover bands all my life. I use to laugh at agents who were actually telling me the truth about how to make more money playing in a cover band. When I was young, I thought all you had to do was be a terrific band and you would get the terrific gigs. I am now a semi-retired musician and full time booking agent. You can visit our site

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