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:
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.
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.