How to Pack ‘Em Into Your Gigs

Dear Jaime,

I’m playing this club that needs me to bring in a big crowd, otherwise they won’t want me to come back. What’s the best way to get people to come?


Wow, Sean, I wish there was such a thing as ‘the best way’.

And I hate that so many clubs make artists guarantee guests, ugh. However, I do have some pointers for you—ha, some I’ll be implementing for my next Nashville gig in a few weeks!

POINTER #1: LET PEOPLE KNOW WITH AT LEAST 2 WEEKS NOTICE! This way people can, y’know, PLAN to come hear you…maybe make a night of it, invite friends, get a bite before or after. Gets them away from their computers/video games/Netflix/bags of Sour Patch Kids. Sigh. I love Sour Patch Kids…

POINTER #2: GET CREATIVE—AND PERSONAL– WITH YOUR INVITES! Okay, how many Facebook event invitations/Evites do you not even LOOK at? Right. Me, too. Not that you shouldn’t use Facebook, DEFINITELY use it. Use Twitter, put posters up on telephone poles, whatever you like. But remember to send PERSONAL emails, texts and…wait for it…make phone calls! I know; the1980’s are calling me and they want their cassette players back, but hear me out: people LOVE personal touches, especially in this modern ‘I can’t find a person to deal with’ world. Taking an hour out of your life to do this could mean lots more fans for you. Can you spare an hour to make people feel good? Sure you can..

POINTER #3: CO-WORKERS ARE GREAT FANS! Do you have a day gig? Make sure EVERYONE there knows about your night of music—put up posters on site, get colleagues to invite friends outside the work circle…it’s a goldmine, I tell ya, and a win-win!

POINTER #4: THINK AHEAD: SCHEDULE GIGS WHEN HUGE EVENTS AREN’T TAKING PLACE! World Cup Finals? Super Bowl? Black Friday? Maybe pick another night for your gig, eh? I once actually got paid to STOP playing and go home during a crucial World Series game. Scarred me for life, never played again—NOT! I was insulted for about 23 seconds, took the money and said BUH-bye!

POINTER #5: DO SOMETHING NICE FOR YOUR PEOPLE! Serve cookies at the end of the show. Take requests. Ask music trivia questions and give out gold stars, I don’t know! These small, simple acts might just set you apart from other artists—and who doesn’t like to feel special? See? That’s been my point all along! Plus, they’ll wonder if there might be Sour Patch Kids next gig…


  • Diane

    I have noticed a trend in our area where the clubs pay less and expect more from the band/musician. I understand promotional needs and working for the door, however as a musician if you have a “guarantee” – the venue says “Okay we’ll pay you $_____”. I do not feel it is entirely the musicians job to get people in there. The Venue has guaranteed a payout of a certain amount and they should protect themselves and their investment by making sure proper promotion goes into the gig so they see a return on their investment. Granted you have to get people in to see you, but if you’re a new band/artist or playing in a new area where you don’t have a following, this should be known by the venue and it should be expected they will have to do the majority of the promotion – I can’t make fans appear if no one in the area knows who I am. It’s the mentality of “Your the act, you pack the place and do all the promotion, etc” that is killing live music. Live music regardless of WHO it is BRINGS IN BUSINESS, If I can KEEP them there, then that is more in bar sales etc.- it is the Venue’s benefit, MY benefit is to perform / sell merch to their regular clientele and gather new fans. If I bring the same people to every gig how does that help a venue? They’ll never go there again unless I’m playing, they haven’t gained a customer and quite frankly, neither have I – chances are my “followers” already have my merch. Because of this “tug of war” venues are opting for Karaoke, DJ’s or “Hobby” bands who don’t bring in people and play for pennies. – BAD live music helps no one! SO if you’re a venue and want to actually MAKE money on your bands, Hire Professional – all be it more expensive bands and do at least SOME promotion on your own. Musician doesn’t equal miracle worker for your bars business. Musician equals one of the MANY tools to drive your business.