Multiple award-winning artist and everyone’s favourite ginger, Ed Sheeran, once said, “The more you write tunes, the better they will become. The more you do gigs, the better you will become.” If you are a new artist trying to forge a career for yourself, playing gigs is one of the best ways to expose people to your music.
Despite most emerging musicians knowing the value of playing gigs, some are unsure of how to go about joining the gig circuit. While finding gigs is, obviously, of vital importance, it is also vital for an individual artist to prepare themselves as best as possible prior to gigging. Being nervous before your first formal performance is completely natural, and luckily there are a few things you can do to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Practice, and then practice some more
One of the most obvious (and important) things to do before your first gig is practice – a lot. Start off by practicing alone with your band – or by yourself, if you’re a solo artist. Compile your set list, and make sure you know each song you’re planning to perform as well as you possibly can. It is also a good idea to have a few practice runs in front of people before your first real gig. You can perform at home in front of family and friends, or sign up for a couple of open mic nights where you will have the opportunity to perform in front of an intimate crowd.
It is imperative to address any jitters you may experience before you go on stage for the first time, as the last thing you want is to experience a bout of severe stage fright once the lights dim and the crowd starts cheering for you.
Make sure you have the right gear
Without the right gear, you can expect to experience a number of hiccups during your performance, which is the last thing anyone wants, especially if it is your first gig. If the venue you are performing at is supplying the sound equipment, it is important to send through your tech rider well in advance to ensure that everything you require will be ready when you arrive. Should you be using your own sound equipment, make sure everything is in perfect working order before leaving the house. It is also recommended to arrive at the venue early enough to do a sound check and familiarize yourself with the setup.
If you play an instrument, make certain that that you are well prepared for any instrument malfunction, such as a snapped guitar string or broken drumstick. Always carry any extra gear you may need with you, including an audio cable or two, just in case a problem arises. If you have more than one guitar, take an extra along, as it is quicker to swop instruments than it is to restring one in the middle of a gig.
Don’t let a simple mistake derail you
Despite how talented you are and how much you practice, the chances are, you may still make a mistake during your performance. Whether you go out of tune or play the incorrect chord, just remember that even some of the biggest names in the music industry still make mistakes when they play in front of the crowd. Jay-Z, Sheryl Crow, and P!nk have all botched song lyrics during a concert, while Fergie wet her pants and Beyonce fell on the stage while performing. If you mess up, try to remain composed, and simply aim to do the next song better. No one goes to a gig hoping to see someone fail, and in all likelihood, not many people will even notice your blunder.
Preparing for your first gig is, without a doubt, as exciting as it is nerve-wracking. As long as you keep calm and prepare well, it will definitely turn out to be one of the best experiences of your life, and could be the start of a wonderful career.