The secret to getting gigs

The secret to getting gigs (2 minute read)

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t get someone asking me: “How can I get gigs?” For one reason or another there’s all sorts of confusion and mystery about getting hired, so hopefully this will help.

The long and short of it is that people hire their friends or at least people that they’ve known for a little while. There’s definitely an element of “who you know” that goes into it, but what’s even more important is what they know about YOU!

Networking and relationship building is the key to landing the gigs that you want and you have to work on building those relationships in a genuine way.   The best way to develop these relationships is to put in the work. Go to the clubs where these people play. Offer to help them in any way that you can. Offer value. Give more than you expect to receive in return. At one point or another, you will start to become a familiar face, which leads to becoming an acquaintance, then a friend. By and large people are most comfortable working with their friends because their friends are most like them.

“You’re probably more likely to get a gig because you were at someone’s BBQ rather than because you’re the best drummer in town.  Relationships make the world go round.” Steve Bowman (Counting Crows)

It’s always said that if you want to be a millionaire you should be hanging out with millionaires. Using that logic, if you want to be playing major clubs and doing major tours then you need to connect with people who are already doing that.

When I was starting Drummer’s Resource I didn’t have a ton of contacts in the drumming world so I had to network and create a new group of friends and colleagues if I wanted to make the site happen. How did I do this? I worked my ass off. I called, emailed, followed up, attended conferences, visited drummers at clubs, rinsed and repeated. I still do this every day and I’ve built a reputation where I am respected and known in the industry to the point where I get referred to people all the time.The same exact thing happens with getting gigs. Once you develop the relationships, friendships, and reputation the phone will start ringing…..as long as you can actually play, but that’s a whole other topic.

Want more? Click here to join my free webinar and learn how to get bigger and better gigs.

20 replies
  1. Jack
    Jack says:

    Great read Nick.

    I too have moved to a place where I don’t have many connections and I’m trying to meet as many people as possible.

    My problem at the moment isn’t getting gigs. It’s getting better gigs. I’m doing a lot of unpaid work, which would be fine if I could see it going anywhere. None of the projects seem to have any drive or goal which is frustrating to say the least!

    Thanks for all that you do man.

    Reply
    • Nick
      Nick says:

      I’ve always been fan of hiring the people that I want to work with. Some great advice that I got from my mentor, Glenn Ferracone was: “Not getting called for the gigs that you want? Create them! Hire the cats that you want” I still go by this today. Those hirings have lead to them hiring me down the road. Unless it’s someone HUGE like Sting or someone like that, they’ll most likely take the gig.

      There are only 3 types of gigs that I think people should take:

      1. Exposure with no money
      2. Good Money with no exposure
      3. Good Money and Good Exposure

      If they don’t have at least ONE of those elements, I think you’re better off staying home and practicing most of the time. NOW, if it’s a HANG or something like that, then I think that it’s worth it to play for free, but very rarely do I feel that way. I’m sure that some people will fight me on this but this is the way I’ve decided gigs that I’m going to play as I get older and more established. When I was younger, we played EVERY SINGLE GIG we could get our hands on. We needed to practice playing live, so it was all worth it.

      Reply
      • Theo Connell
        Theo Connell says:

        Very well put, Nick. Two things I would to this: Exposure may mean exposure to high-level musicians that are playing the gig, not just to the audience. This would be particularly important when trying to break into the scene (whatever scene it may be). The other thing is once you get a gig, show up on time wearing what the gig requires. That’s probably another whole topic in & of itself.

        Reply
    • Nick
      Nick says:

      Rick,

      Totally agree man! Speaking of the hang, it was great hangin with you at NAMM. I just realized that I never responded to your email that you sent me. Looks like I’m being an asshole…yikes! I’ll follow up soon. Hope all is well my friend!

      Reply
  2. David Smith
    David Smith says:

    I have always believed and practiced these things when booking gigs for my band (s). It’s just common sense. Going above and beyond will always get you noticed a lot more, faster, and builds great friendships for life st the same time!

    Reply
  3. Marnie Martin
    Marnie Martin says:

    Hey Nick!
    Thanks for the great article, I truly believe in what you’re saying. If you’re trying to get you’re band touring gigs, you can be the best band around and still get passed up for friends of the headlining band. I’ve been on some of the biggest tours of my life merely because of who we knew.. not just because we were a great band. Networking is a helluva lot of work..lol.. but the payoff can be worth it. As long as you can put you’re chops where your mouth is, so to speak, it’s out there- you’ve gotta go get it.

    Reply
    • Nick
      Nick says:

      Marnie,

      Yeah, not that the cream doesn’t rise to the top at some point, but bottom line, people want to work with their friends and people who they have legitimate relationships with. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  4. John Foster
    John Foster says:

    Great advice Nick, as usual. You are right on the money with your advice, based on my experience playing in Nashville when I first started playing drums for a living, and even now, playing drums as a sideline to my ‘day gig’.

    A follow up to this could be – how to CONTINUE getting gigs, after getting the initial gig based on networking. I would say (1) know your material, (2) be dependable, (3) be someone others want to be around (or ‘don’t be a jerk’).

    Reply

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  1. […] Keith Carlock, Rich Redmond, Jason Sutter, Dave Weckl and others.  Although there is no real “secret to getting gigs“, listen in as Ed goes into the details of what he teaches drummers to get themselves to the next […]

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