It goes like this: You've got a booking and you are looking forward to the gig. You can't imagine that there is much more to do than simply practice the sets and be on time.

You get to the venue, it's a pretty well known local club. You are excited. However, you find the door locked because no one told you that they don't open until 30 minutes before you go on. You are there early so you can set up since they told you, you would be first-up. Oh, well, you wait. When the bartender gets there, she says you need to move your vehicles because that is customer parking. "Where", you ask. She doesn't really know but she suggests the street in a neighboring residential area. You decide you should unload before you park. When you ask where you load and unload; she shows you an alley that is full of potholes, "You can bring your gear in the back door". When you ask where you can put the instrument cases and other gear, the manager who has just arrived, shows you a three-foot wide hallway that is on the way to the restrooms. By now, you are wondering why you are here. They don't seem to be prepared for you.

When you finally see the stage; a bare 8ft X 9ft spot in the corner of the room; you know this is not the gig of your dreams. The "sound-man" is not working tonight because he had to take his dog to the Vet. But the manager says you can make any changes you think you might need. He shows you the console which is very dusty. And, "Oh, yes", he says, you'll have to plug the equipment in "over there" because they will need "these outlets". You finally live through all of this and play to an audience of five; consisting of your brother, his wife, two of their friends and your girlfriend. When you pack up you find that someone has fallen on the bass player's case and scratched it all up, simply because there was no place to stash your gear. No one even offered the band a drink of water, let alone a beer.

Nevertheless, there is hope because this will never happen again. You are in this business because you love it and you now realize, thanks to The Gig From Hell that it is a business. Independent businesses have "best practices" set up to take care of the many sticky situations that arise and so should you.

We recommend the following for Indie bands. When you begin treating your band as a business, it's good to start from the ground up.

So, there are just three general categories:

One, Two, Three:

  • Prepare a Rider

  • Do some PR (A Press Release Template is attached at the end of this article)

  • Check out the venue in person.

  • We'll elaborate a bit on these topics because if you aren't in business-mode yet you might not immediately think of what actions you will need to take.

  • ONE ~ THE RIDER. You will find the Rider Template in the Make Music Your Business article: but here it is again: Indie Rider Template. If you feel that calling it a Rider is too formal, then just give it another name. It could be called a Booking Agreement, Venue Information, or List of Requirements, and if you use a name like this; add the requirements that you offer. For instance, you will be on time, agree to play a certain number of songs in each set, agree to take requests, to provide your own mics ( if that is the case), and the list goes on. You get the picture. It also does not even need to be typed if you want to be very informal, just have a hand written list of questions to ask when you set up the gig. Then you will be prepared for almost anything.

  • TWO ~ DO SOME PR OF YOUR OWN. Write a Press Release. Here's a link to our Press Release Template. Do a web search for the newspapers in your area and find out where to send press releases. Call the local radio station, ask if they will announce that you will be performing, look for websites that might be on the list of favorites for the type of audience your music appeals to, such as music sites, entertainment sites, tourist sites. This will require that you make a decision as to what demographic your music is likely to appeal to, teenagers, young adults, college students, ethnic groups, older adults, Big Band fans, Jazz fans, and that list goes on and on too. But you need to know who your audience is.

  • THREE ~ ARRANGE TO HAVE TWO BAND MEMBERS GO TO THE VENUE during their open hours. Now you ask, "Why two members of the band?" Because often when you visit a venue it's not possible to talk to the manager. You are likely to be on your own. When this is the case, you need to take written notes. One can talk, the other can write. Write down the name of any employee you speak to and at what time, so that if there are any questions later you are prepared with the absolute truth of the visit. It's a good idea to take notes even if you can speak to the manager because you may need to remind him/her of what you talked about. If is written down and the date and time are noted; memories are more likely to be jogged.

    Check the general ambience of the club. How are the acoustics, make a note of the noise level in the room in ratio to the number of people there. Look at the menu to find out what they serve, if they serve food. This will give you an idea of their usual clientele; why do people come to this place?

    Get a sense of the atmosphere so your band can perform accordingly. By that we mean, if you are a very loud and raucous Rock band and the acoustics in the club are not good and the noise level is high, then pull back a bit from your usual red-line intensity so that you don't add to noise level. The crowd may discover that they don't have to yell at each other and they'll enjoy listening to you.

    We know we are repeating ourselves. These suggestions are in the Five New Year's Resolutions article too. But we think we can't stress these approaches to becoming a Music Industry Entrepreneur too much. We know that it is difficult to actually do these things. You have to be committed with a Capital C. This is why we think that it's worth the trouble to put this info in more than one article; we may inspire more Indie Bands that way.