Playing in non-traditional venues like art galleries, churches, libraries, and storefronts can be fun. Often times owners are more willing to work with an artist to make a show unique and worthwhile for everyone involved. And in many cases, these show are more fun and less stressful. But playing in these spaces can also be alot more work than gigging in the average bar or club. No matter the space, here are 5 tips for make sure your DIY show goes off without a hitch.
Make sure there is a sound system
Might seem like a no-brainer but sometimes this little detail falls through the cracks. Usually DIY venues will not have a sound system. If they do, they don’t know how to use it. Often the owner of the small business is also the one booking you and they have absolutely no idea that a sound system is required. Hashing out sound requirements ahead of time will cause you alot less stress on the day of the show. You may discover that you need to bring your own. No matter what you need to do, just make sure you determine this in advance. It will save you plenty of headaches.
Determine show logistics
Will there be someone at the door taking cover or do you need to provide someone? You will most likely need to provide your own person. How soon can you get into the venue to setup and soundcheck? Will there be any volunteers to help with setting up chairs and tables? Anyone to help run merch, food, or anything else? This stuff is super important to determine, otherwise you’ll be stuck doing everything…and that usually sucks.
Figure out how you’re promoting the show
Ask the place to stick information up on their website? Ask them if you can drop off some posters for the storefront or if you can drop off handbills that they can keep by the register. Do they want to create the Facebook event or should you? Can you both work together to effectively promote? These are all important questions to ask. Small business owners are especially great to work with because a successful show is a win-win for everyone. You get a good turnout and they get new potential customers. Any way you can help them to promote is a bonus.
“Sell” the show! Like really sell it!
Don’t play a show with bands no one has heard of in a place no one knows how to get to! Half the battle of playing a DIY space is finding ways to get people in the door. When your venue is in a well-trafficked area or on the right side of the street, that can make all the difference. DIY venues usually don’t have the advantage of being well-known music venues, so you’ll need to rely heavily on accessibility. People are more likely to go to familiar and recognizable places.
Now lets talk about the bill. Make it a killer bill. Book other artists who will help you push the show. Book artists who have a good draw. Book artists who are willing to work with you to make the night awesome. See “4 Tips For Putting Together a Great Bill for Your Show“. Sell the show. Make people want to come out. They might not know where they’re going, but at least they know they wanna be there. And remember…people will go anywhere as long as their friends are too.