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Hello, I'm Ade Dovey and I have worked in the Venue and Live Music Industry for over 15 years. My professional background has focused on developing new venues to launch into the market. Mainly grassroots venues operated by independent companies and/or via third party teams such as promoters who managed venues alongside stakeholders, shareholders and private landlords.

In the build-up to the pandemic, I had moved from the multi-venue grassroots sector to coordinate events, content and live music in the Arena and Theatre venue realm overseeing various North West and North East locations such as Manchester Arena, Newcastle Utilita Arena, Leeds First Direct Arena, Aberdeen P&J Live Arena and Bonus Hull Arena (operated by ASM Global formerly SMG Europe). Within this role, I would be responsible to programme sustainable and financially viable events up to 21,000 Capacity. Ranging from Popular Artists, Sporting Events, Comedy, Live Cinema with Classical Soundtracks.

Before this, I coordinated many venues including Manchester’s Albert Hall, Gorilla and The Deaf Institute (for the company Mission Mars).  These venues focused purely on contemporary bands and DJs in and around 750 events a year over 200,000 ticket-buying customers in and out as well as being responsible as ‘Head of Programming’ managing a team of 10 professionals who coordinated ticketing, social media, support artists, administration, production and club events.

Inside the logistics of venue management

The main goals and objectives with working in one or multiple venues (as the main principles apply for one up to several) is to achieve a healthy calendar/diary system and point of contact for all departments in the event booking universe. In order to visualise this, you tend to adopt the mindset that if your venue had arms, hands, a nucleus and the ability to communicate well, then that is you as the programming manager. On a daily basis, you will be networking constantly and consistently with external promoters both locally and nationally ranging from new promoters and local allies up to Live Nation, Kili Live, DHP Concerts, AEG and more. At the same time, you will be coordinating many valuable and intricate threads of details in ticketing, marketing, production (Sound and Lights), logistics,  tour managers, event reps (show contact), drivers, local authorities, venue teams and staff as well as additional stakeholders (finance, business owners, IT, local press, interns, student union, human resources and more depending on the business model).

The role of programming manager

As a programming manager, the communication or systematic approach to having a healthy diary system is dependent on the quality of your resources. This includes contacts within the local music scene, national scene and band/talent knowledge and is essential you have motivation and a ‘mission statement’ followed by a plan knowing what audiences you want to attract based on your venues appeal and target demographic. It’s vital that your initial aim is to know what is to be expected of the quality of your booking approach so you can build and build on attracting the right promoters, booking agents and artists so that you create a vibrant cultural seasonal/annual listings which open the doors to more bookings.

The power of your voice

With technology forever expanding and goalposts moving it’s essential to focus on your tone and language online and in each establishment in order to speak to your audience and relate in order to not just book the right bands but to make sure it’s financially viable and within budget in order to obtain a sustainable and economically sound business model. Some venues are natural at developing this from the launch, however some older venues who want to adapt might struggle and require the right team and skilled staff to advance in the competitive market.

It’s also worth to note not all venues have adequate budget to employ resourceful staff and (as I have experienced personally) you might be doing a lot of the work yourself and once successful, usually after financial year 2, you can progress to outsource an assistant or reliable ticketing and social media staff. It’s very rare for one individual to be able to programme, production manage, ticket manage and be an expert on social media and often the dilemma is due to time management as the live bookings industry rarely slows down and you will need to be able to respond and communicate well with composure without taking a breath or even being able to put the kettle on.

Planning your year

Generally, you are at peak performance and business 9-10 months of the year and utilise the other two quieter touring periods to refresh your systems, analyse your approach and coordinate opportunities for the next busy year. The touring season tends to start from September and slow down just before Christmas, the NYE section is often quiet for bands but a great time to create business with DJ events. January is regarded as an admin month but a very busy period follows February into June. Festival season often counteracts the summer months programming but allows you to prepare for student return and making sure you’re booked up every prime day (Weds-Sat) and often battle out the calendar dates available with your reliable independent promoters.

Where do I start?

You might be thinking, how do I become a programmer? Where do you start? My advice would be to integrate with your local favourite venue and knock on their door or direct contact online about being interested in shadow experience at an event and/or offer your services for a period of time as an intern. There are many roles within a small or large venue organisation and often the case most venue programmers are found and recognised from having multiple experiences within the live sector but personality, trust and eye for detail are often your most recognisable attributes to an employer. But first and foremost is the drive, passion and love for music and making the venue a home for the day to all touring artists and touring personnel and making sure you have good relationship skills with all industry colleagues.

With the world currently suspended in a new normal, you might be a little confused as to where to start with gigging. Although live music is currently off the table for a lot of venues and musicians, and with bands scrambling to get the few socially distant gigs available, it might be worthwhile to look towards the future and get a plan together for after this has all blown over.

Lockdown has been a trying time for the music industry, but for many of us, it has given us the time and space to knuckle down on fine-tuning our skills and songwriting. If you’ve found yourself writing and rehearsing heavily over the past few months, you might be thinking about booking in a gig or two when venues start opening again. If you’re not sure where to start when booking your very first gig - this article is for you!

Here are our top tips for booking your very first gig…

Look At What You Have To Offer

When trying to book gigs, it’s a good idea to show people that your house is in order; that your band is reliable and ready to get on stage. What can you show other bands, venues and promoters to put you in a good position for getting a gig?

Before reaching out to anyone ask yourself do I have…

Having these in place will prove that you’re ready to perform and give you something to show bands, venues and promoters.

Start Locally

The best place to start with your very first gig is in your local scene. This could be the pub down the road, with the bands from your town or city, and promoters that are familiar with your area. Almost every great band cut their teeth in their local scene, and as your experience grows so will your opportunities. Growing in your local scene is a fantastic way to meet other musicians and music industry workers that are accessible to a new band.

Reach Out To Local Bands

One of the most simple ways to get your first gig is to find bands of a similar genre in your area and send them a short message. Your message doesn’t have to be extensive and there are no explicit rules, but try to stick to these guidelines:

If the band puts on their own gigs at venues, they may well be on the lookout for support bands to bring fresh audience members to their gigs. If they gig through a promoter, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction in your local scene.

To find these bands you can:

Make sure you do your research to make sure you are contacting bands that are relevant to your genre, gigging level and area.

Communicate With Local Venues

Music venues and pubs that put on gigs are a great place to start introducing yourself to when you are looking to gig. Do a little bit of research into the venues in your area. This can be as easy as searching on Google Maps, using a directory or taking a walk down the road to find a suitable venue. From there, look up their website or social media platforms to make sure they welcome the genre that you play and either send over a message or introduce yourself in person.

You will need to find out who puts on the gigs and how they operate. It only takes a little bit of nosing around on the internet, sending a message or popping into local venues to find out who the contacts for musicians and bands are. Different venues work in different ways to it’s a good idea to ask how the gigs work. Does the venue put together band nights, work with specific promoters to put together gigs, or do they allow bands to put on their own gigs using the venue? Are there fees for putting on a gig and can you charge on the door? It’s not a one-size-fits-all deal so ask appropriate questions to build a picture of what is expected of you and how you can get your foot in the door.

Find Local Promoters

Once you’ve spoken to local bands and venues, you may find it useful to get in touch with local promoters. A good promoter will have an idea of how your local scene runs, and may potentially have support slots to fill. You can find local promoters through searching online, through music directories such as, through bands, venues and stamped all over promotional posters.

Look Into Gig Swaps

Another idea of sorting some of your first gigs is to offer gig swaps to another band in a similar genre, at a similar level, perhaps in the next town or city over. If you’re putting on your own gig, this is a good way to fill mutually beneficial support slots and gives you the opportunity to grow together with other bands.

Try Open Mics

If your music set up allows for it, try your hand at open mics. They’re a good way to play in front of an audience if you haven’t built up a big following yet, and help to build confidence for when you book your own gigs. Many pubs advertise open mics on their socials and in their venues.

What About Under 18s?

If you’re too young to play in a regular music venue or pub, the best solution is to put on your own gigs in other venues and invite all your friends and family down.

Here are some of the places you could look at for putting on your first gig:

Being creative in this way will build skills such as adaptability and resourcefulness which will be even more useful later on in your journey.

Tips For Your First Live Gig

When you pencil in that very first gig, it pays to make a good impression. If venues or the other bands you perform with appreciate what you’re bringing to the table, you may be invited back. Building great relationships helps to build your band’s momentum and expand your opportunities.

Here are a few important tips for making the most of it:

Local scenes are relatively small, so word will go around if you put on a good show or if there is any negative backlash. Make sure you’re not remembered for the latter. Focus on building great relationships, adding value to other bands and venues, and give yourself the best chance of growing a great name and buzz around your music.

Streaming In The Meantime

While we are still living through the COVID pandemic, and with many venues still closed or limiting performance, consider gigging online. Putting together a set and performing it live through YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Instagram Live or similar platforms can help keep a buzz around your music and build momentum for your live gigs in the future.

At a time when it seems like the whole world has taken to social media to perform, how on earth do we stand out? Well, I reckon it can be summed up in just three words - 

Quality is King

It's safe to say that wobbly footage shot at a bad angle that is poorly lit with erratic audio will not get you a big audience! I recently watched a video shot by one of my favourite guitar players which was shared on the Facebook page of his (multi-multi-million selling) band. A page which has 565,171 subscribers by the way.  

 The shot looked good at first glance - sitting on a high stool in glorious sunshine set against a backdrop of beautiful Tennessee countryside, however the audio was poor thanks to some wind noise, plus he wasn't facing the camera so his singing was muffled and indistinct. Also, whoever was holding the camera must have gotten tired halfway through as the image started to shake!  

Of course, with over half a million FB fans he doesn't need to try so hard. Or does he? Personally, I see this pandemic as the 'great leveller' - the chance for innovative grass roots artists to really grab the attention of bigger audiences and how we come across on our broadcasts is the key to that. With more to gain than the big guys in terms of revenues (or is that less to lose?) now really is the time to up our game.  Check out this blog for sound and lighting tips.

How to monetise your streams 

I've seen a lot of 'tip-jar' streams – artists offering a list of cover songs they're willing to play while relentlessly plugging their PayPal or Ko-Fi links in-between tracks. Now that's all very well and good but it smacks a little of busking for pennies to me. Of course, we all need to make money but, thinking of the bigger picture, these times are tailor-made for increasing our audience engagement and expanding our fan base, not just for collecting a couple of quid, bucks, euros, whatever.  

Think for a moment about how you want to be perceived as an artist and let that perception inform how you will go about monetising your streams. For myself, I'm happy to appear on virtual festival bills, playing a 15-20 minute set with a plug for my website and merch links here and there as it's much easier for me to go back through all the likes and comments and reply to each individually than it is to persuade everyone to send me a tip.  

The master plan 

That gives me the opportunity to thank each and every person for watching, which converts those audience members into fans by getting them to like my social media pages and sign up for my mailing list.  This not only helps me post content that they're more likely to engage with moving forward, but it also gives me the opportunity to invite them to future events behind a paywall where I can promise a longer, higher quality performance, perhaps with additional benefits, as I'll discuss below. 

Virtual house concerts 

OK so you've built a new audience, or increased engagement with an existing one by streaming your heart out on Facebook, now what? Well there are many routes – getting them to a subscription content delivery service like Patreon, or to an online site like Side Door Access (a platform which matches artists with spaces then sells tickets to the shows). Don't forget to keep it simple. Sometimes that means stick to what you know.  

Zoom Zoom Zoom 

I've had quite a bit of success hosting small house concert or small club type shows using the Zoom digital meeting app. It's free (as long as you keep your performances under 40 minutes) or £15/month to remove that time cap and you can invite up to 100 attendees. Video quality is pretty good and there's a real community vibe that makes the event much more memorable than the scrolling commentary vibe of a Facebook stream. The audio isn't exactly high quality, but it has an interesting grainy quality that reminds me of listening to AM radio in the 80s! 

I sell event tickets via my Bandcamp page then email the Zoom meeting link to everyone, along with a link to a YouTube video which gives them a crash course in Zoom tech. 

Zoom meeting 'hosts' can mute all the audio ensuring a quiet room while you're playing and then un-mute in-between songs (for the applause and cheers) but it's a bit much to take on solo so it's a good idea to have a friend/roadie/TM/offspring onboard to help run the tech. 

Give them something extra

As an extra incentive to encourage people to pay for the experience I offer a free 'bootleg' recording of the show. I record all the audio while streaming, then do a quick edit and upload the results to Bandcamp. I then generate free album codes which I distribute to all ticket holders so they can download a 'proper' album. Simple, effective, great value for money and it gives my fans an irreplaceable memory in the form of a bespoke 'artefact'! 

I hope this blog has been useful for you. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have on the subject. These are challenging times for many of us but I take some comfort in recognising that innovation is so often born out of adversity, and that by choosing to find new ways to grow our DIY music careers in these circumstances we are leading a new  generation of audience engagement!  

If you interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician,  Order a Prospectus or Apply Now.

Music has always been at the forefront of social interaction. From the moment you start learning your chosen instrument, singing songs at school or jamming with your friends, music becomes the glue that brings people together. 

 But what if you can’t meet up with your band mates? What if the audience can’t come to you? 

 All is not lost. Welcome to the world of remote gigging, jamming and collaborating. Let me lead you through some of the things I’ve learnt while being a musician online and give you tips to help make your remote musical career a success. 

Roll up! Roll up! 

The thought of playing live over the internet is a daunting prospect, especially if you’re used to the traditional way of gigging in venues.  

However, there are a lot of similarities between the two. The more you think about your live stream as an event, the more you and your audience will get out of it. 

Something that won’t change much is the promotional side – you still must advertise any remote gig beforehand. Message your friends, create virtual gig posters and post on social media with plenty of time for people to plan their lives around seeing your show. An added advantage of remote gigging is that your audience don’t have to plan transport to the show or put aside large amounts of time. 

I have actually had people watch me play online who wouldn’t normally be able to see me play live, so you can really use this to your advantage. The audience may be more diverse due to them being in another country or perhaps they are socially anxious in crowds. 

Testing, testing, 1,2,3… 

Before even thinking about doing a virtual gig you need to address whether you can.  

I like to think of it as a remote soundcheck. Whilst planning any show, the main priority should be the audience end-user experience. For them to stay watching and engaged you need to give them as high a quality audio as you can. 

That’s not to say you need to go out and spend lots of money on expensive equipment. It could be as simple as making sure the microphone on your camera is in the right position if you’re streaming from your phone or making sure the levels are correct if you’re performing along to a pre-recorded track. 

Quite often your chosen social media platform is able to stream to just you. Use this feature to experiment with set ups before actually going live to an audience. You can ask friends and other musicians to critique the quality too, as its quite easy to get caught up in one aspect and miss something glaringly obvious. 

Lights, camera, action 

One thing I see time and time again when watching online shows is the lack of thought put into lighting and camera angles. This is just as important as the sound quality. Nobody wants to see you perform with your head half out of frame, your instrument too dark to see, and your dirty washing on the floor in the background. 

Let’s start with where you are performing from. If you are live streaming from your home, choose a room that is clutter free so that your audience can focus on you, not what’s going on in the background. Make sure the camera you are using is in focus, is framing you as a performer and all cabling is out of sight. Even if you haven’t got too much space, a clever camera angle can draw in the audience while hiding the fact that you may be playing in your bedroom. 

Finally, don’t forget about lighting. Much in the same way a traditional gig would be lit to enhance the performance, your remote gig needs to do the same. 

In an ideal world I’d recommend investing in some specialist lighting equipment with adjustable dimmers so you can adjust the light levels. However, some carefully placed lamps can do wonders in creating a mood. Remember, too little light and your audience won’t be able to see you properly. Too much light and you’ll look washed out on screen.  

Pass the virtual hat 

As you’ll be streaming your gig, you won’t be charging a ticket per se. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a revenue stream. Don’t be put off asking for donations both before, during and after your show. I like to think of it as the virtual tip jar.  

Many streaming services allow you to link directly to PayPal for your audience to show their appreciation. Also, if you have merchandise to sell let people know about it.  

Sharing a link to your merch in between songs can work wonders in bringing in revenue as your audience see it as an alternative to paying a ticket price. 

Remember, even though you may not be getting a gig fee like you would do on a normal show there are no overheads (such as venue hire, transport costs etc) so any money you do make is pure profit. 

We’re jammin’ 

What if you want to jam and collaborate with other musicians remotely in real time? That’s where things start to get a bit trickier but with a change in mindset your creativity can flow even though you are miles apart. 

Even with all the technological advancements of the past few years you’ll eventually meet the terrors of latency and slow internet speeds. 

Latency is the delay between playing a note on your end and the person you are collaborating with hearing it their end. When you are playing a live streaming show this problem wont particularly matter as you aren’t having to play along with other musicians in another location. Plus, even if your audience hears your audio slightly later than you, they’re still hearing everything in time. 

However, if you try playing along to say a drummer while you are playing guitar over the internet then that latency means you are out of time with each other, making live remote jamming impossible in the traditional sense. 

The main culprit of this is slow internet speeds. The UK is notorious for slow upload speeds, meaning there will be a delay between you playing a note, it being uploaded to the internet and it being download by the other musician. 

The solution

If you can’t play together in real time, then what are your options?  Well I like to do a half and half approach. Have a live webchat or video conferencing call open between you while writing and bounce ideas between you. That way you can piece bits of a song together in stages and if you record your video call, you’ll never have that “What was that riff I just played?” moment ever again! 

Prepare any ideas you do have beforehand and send them to your fellow musicians. It gives them a chance to think about their own parts to contribute and I’ve found this approach is actually more likely to produce new ideas away from the distractions of the rehearsal space. 

The same approach can be applied to being a session musician and playing on other artists work. The majority of my session work is conducted from my small home studio, with the producer listening in to my performances while I record them my end. They can then give active feedback on what they would like from me and I can send them over the session files after, ready for them to mix and master. 

Put your money where your mouth is 

As I mentioned, this doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend lots of money. However, prioritising your spending on a few key areas can mean a huge jump in quality for both your audience and your fellow musicians. 

Here’s my top 5 things to spend your hard-earned cash on: 

Rapid internet 

The main cause of problems when streaming. If you can invest in a quick broadband or fibre optic internet connection with at least 10mbps it will make all the difference. Remember the faster the better. 


A higher quality microphone, either via USB or through a recording interface, will be a big step up in clarity compared to your phone or laptop built-in microphone. Your audience needs to hear you clearly, otherwise they’ll just find something else to occupy their time. 

Lighting and room

Even a few inexpensive photography lights placed in key places will make any livestream look professional. Also think about adding some fairy lights to your background or a backdrop of some sort. It could be something as simple as a hung-up sheet, but it’ll make all the difference. 


A good webcam, action cam (e.g. GoPro) or small DSLR camera attached to your laptop will have an immediate impact on your video quality. Make sure it can capture at least 1080p. Anything less starts to look grainy or fuzzy. If you’re streaming on your phone perhaps invest in some lenses to go over your phone camera to give a more cinematic, less harsh feel to your shots. 


A strange thing to invest in I know but a few hours spent looking up other people’s livestreams, watching video tutorials and optimising your broadcasting settings will mean your performance is less likely to be plagued by technical difficulties. Practice a livestream beforehand to make sure everything works and that you can be seen and heard. 

 I hope you can make use of a few of these tips and that they help you avoid the potential pitfalls of remote streaming. I look forward to seeing you at your gig very soon, virtually. 

If you interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician,  Order a Prospectus or Apply Now.

It’s January 29th, 2020, the end of hibernation is drawing to a close. I hope you are fuelled by the promise found in the demise of Winter. Take that positivity, push through and compose your bands 2020 festival plans.

Where are you going to play? How are you going to apply? Is your band match fit? Ultimately, you are in charge of these considerations. However, if it's of any advice – go out, cast the net and see what your music brings in.

Festivals are vital in breaking your act, increasing its reach and attracting exposure in new territory. They provide an excellent method for new acts to break through, they are incredibly career affirming and fun. Now, before we jump straight in here is some advice;

Is your music rehearsed to a high standard?   

Remember, you can land a festival and not be ready for it. Perhaps you are not as tight as you could be and maybe there are out of tune backing vox, and wonky arrangements in the set?  Record your practice sessions be critical and act on it.  Festivals are a shot at attracting fans/industry to your band – however, if you turn up and play poorly, it is a wasted opportunity.

Now, if you already playing blinding shows in your local scene, then you will have started to gather momentum and a buzz. This makes the next step easier.

Get on top of your socials and have a story

Going beyond the high follower count (this certainly helps) having something upcoming to promote during the festival season is useful in landing slots.  Ever wondered why so many releases are in the early Autumn?

Imagine, you have Glasto – you released a single in March, there has been some radio promotion, and as a consequence you have  boosted your social network. There is a buzz, and in September the EP comes out. This is a plus for bookers, they know that on an EP campaign you will engage PR, perhaps land some further radio plays, spotify playlists and engage in interviews. In turn, you will be plugging the festival, which ultimately will lead to higher ticket sales. If your band can demonstrate an increase in revenues for a festival, you have higher chances of getting on the bill.

Look pro, act pro

Sort out your image, take photos, make an EPK and, most importantly have music which vibes. It has to sound big and be at a professional level. Conveniently, you'll find a wealth of information through our blogs and videos that can help with all these aspects.

Let’s get applying

If you feel your band is ready for the festival stage, there is nothing left to do then apply. To help you, here is a list of upcoming UK festival dates with application URLs. Remember, there is a range of genres in this list – always consider if your act fits the requirements - if it does STOP READING AND GET APPLYING!

Upcoming UK festivals

Black Deer Festival |19th – 21st  Jun

Arc Tangent20th – 23rd Aug

Glastonbury | 24th – 28th June

Ramblin Man |17th – 19th July

Steelhouse Festival |24th- 26th July

Isle of Wight Festival |11th  – 14th June

Camp Bestival | 30th  – 02nd August

Focus Wales 2020 | 07th – 09th May

Reading and Leeds Festival |28th – 30th August

Download |12th-14th  June

Liverpool Sound City | 01st -03rd May

Big Love Festival | 12th – 15th June

The Great Escape |13th – 16th May

Tramlines (Apps Open Closer to the Event) | 31st  – 02nd July

Leestock | 23rd  – 24th May

Camden Rocks | 30th – 31st May

Latitude | 16th - 19th July

Kendal Calling | 30th July – 02nd Aug

Nozstock | 23rd  – 27th July

Standon Calling | 23th – 26th  July

Wireless festival |  3rd  – 5th July

51st state festival | 01st Aug

Neighbourhood Weekender | 23rd  May

HowTheLightGetsIn Festival | 22nd May – 25th May

Worcester Music Festival |11th Sep – 13th Sep

Hastings Beer and Music festival | 01st July – 04th July

Strawberries and Creem Festival | 20th June

Slam Dunk Festival | 24th May

Boomtown Fair | 12th August – 16th August

All points East | 29th May – 31st May

Victorious Festival | 28th - 30th Aug

Notable mentions

BBC Introducing | Multiple festival stages

Gigmit  | Offering multiple Gigs Worldwide








Tip no.1 - don’t talk drivel.

People fail to appreciate that a set needs to be considered in its entirety. They rehearse the songs and perceive the silence in-between the songs as separate to the gig. It’s not!

On a good day, you can have interaction with the crowd that flows naturally and easily. However, I wouldn’t bank on it. Chances are, the gig won’t be perfect, the sound won’t be right, and there will not be as many people in the crowd as you’d like. While all these thoughts are buzzing around your head, you’ll find yourself underprepared and you will get caught out.  You may do something uncool, or worse encounter a technical problem. You may even be tempted to say the worst thing to the audience - ‘does anyone know any jokes?’

This will say to the crowd, 'the band is amateur will you please go to the bar and spare us all this painful embarrassment.'

My advice is to just precisely prepare what will be said in-between songs. I’m talking everything from guitar changes to tuning breaks. Plan what you are going to say, this doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous, but you always know you will land back on the script.

Tip no.2 - don’t be surprised when something breaks

Expect that things are going to break. Strings are going to break, amps are going to blow. Don’t start thinking ‘oh that’s weird, I didn’t expect that to happen.’ Music equipment will break. Everything needs a spare. If you know you are going to bust a string, what do you do?  I’ve seen big gigs where all the members are banking on a good show, then someone breaks a string, and there isn’t a spare guitar - it’s nuts.

Tip no.3 - don’t let your set overrun

This is not fair for the other bands, and the knock-on effect to you is it demonstrates that your act isn’t professional. It is a small scene these days, and bands need the support of other bands to get through. This is why, in the present day, you find a much nicer breed of rock star then you would in the 1980’s. To get through, you need teamwork, and you need support. If you blow that by overrunning, it’s massively uncool, so please don’t do it!

Tip no.4 - control the pace of the set  

Drummers, I’m talking to you! The singer has got the stage and can control the interaction with the audience, it’s a massive responsibility - and it’s a tough gig. As a drummer, you need to play your part, you control the endings of the songs and the tempos. You must realise that your job isn’t to just play drums but the control of the way the set feels.

Nothing kills the vibe of a gig quicker than a singer introducing a song, and the song doesn’t start because the drummer is fiddling with the poxy hi-hat.  This drives me nuts, and at the point, I’m gone - it is more interesting to have a drink at the bar.

If you don’t understand how fundamental this is, you are missing the point of the show. It’s not you playing through the tunes. You are in the entertainment business. The crowd have not paid money to see you fiddle with your hi-hat.  If you have a technical problem, you work out how to deal with it without alerting the of the band and the audience.  I’ve seen all sorts of technical problems happen for drummers and pro’s deal with it, without anyone noticing!


Drummers need to watch the crowd and feel for the right moment to start a song.  A gap of one or two seconds is enough to kill the vibe, whereas if you get straight on it, the excitement builds. Monitoring the level of excitement is like controlling the gears.  Start in the most exciting way possible, and be in the right tempo. Count in the right tempo of the track, you’ll be surprised how many people don’t do that. You also control the outro or ending of the set. If you have a little bit of a jam to end, then it's your job to gauge the feel. The audience, and finish it at the right point. I’ve seen a lot of jams where it reaches its peak, then it carries on and on until it peters out. That's your fault - take charge of it!

Tip no.5 - forget to say who you are

Often when you are on a multi-band bill, you do not have the luxury of putting a backdrop up. You may be on a borrowed kit, so you can’t use the bass drum skin to display the band name. You need to repeatedly tell people who you are. Tell people ‘we are the blind donkeys (or enter a band name), and we will see you at the merch stand’.

The whole point of doing the gig is to build your audience, and you need to consolidate the great stuff you have done on stage. People are into the band; you will seal the deal when people discover what amazingly cool people you are and you will sell some merch. If you do this well, you will break even on your support tours and make money on your headline tours.

If you are interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician please join us at WaterBear HQ for an Open Day or Order a Prospectus.

I love all things band. Today, I’d like to talk to you about how to make a good band great. I’m interested in explaining to you how to go from A to B. Through the blog we are going to explore how your band can do it!

Tip no.1 - put on a show

The first biggie for me is that when you arrive to perform at a gig, you are prepared to put on a show. There are tons of great bands that nail ‘sweet child of mine’ in their garage. However, could you go achieve that on stage, in front of a load of music fans, which would then stand there and go - wow!

Make sure you and your band have stood in front of a mirror, in a rehearsal room and worked out a start, middle, and end to your set. Remember this isn’t a list of songs it's a show for other people.

Tip no.2 - be rememberable

I’ve been to tons of shows, both as a fan and a performer. The one thing that sears a band into my mind is how rememberable they are. So, you need to question what it is that makes you memorable? With that in mind, these following tips should help us remember your act.

Tip no.3 - be friendly and personable

You have just killed it on stage, but are you killing it off-stage? How many times have you heard someone say 'they were a great band but a bit arrogant’?  The first thing somebody usually tells me is how good they sound, the second thing they tell me is their experience with the band.

Remember to be friendly - if it’s a booker make sure you are working with them on the night, speaking to them about numbers. If it’s your tech crew, make sure they are happy and offer them something from the bar so they have a drink whilst they do your soundcheck. It will make a huge difference the next time you see them. 

The most important part of this is to look after your fans. They are your bread and butter - they make your business. If they are willing to get there early and have spent money on your act, then the least you can do is smile and spend a bit of time with them. Even if the gig didn’t go so well.

Let’s say, you have had a really bad gig. Your in ear’s broke, your strings snapped and you hit your singer with the headstock of the guitar. That sucks, and you will probably be a bit down when you come off of the stage. However, that is not Alice’s fault, 14 from Sheffield, wearing your T-shirt, holding a big poster and only wants ten seconds of your time for a signature.

Tip no.4 - don’t copy successful bands

Are you fresh?

I have a problem with bands sounding like other bands. When I first arrived at college ‘The Kooks’ were huge -I know, I’m old. This meant that all of my friend's bands sounded like ‘The Kooks’.

It was boring, the Kooks already existed. And, more recently in Brighton, we had Royal Blood. And, guess how many bands now exist in the two-piece format the same as Royal Blood?

Royal Blood still exists, there is nothing wrong with taking influence from people but make sure it's something new, innovative or and exciting. If I have seen Royal Blood, I’m not exactly excited to see Royal Blood two in my local area. However, I’m excited to see a band that takes influence from them.

It can still work; Airborne is the AC/DC of 2019 and Greta Van Fleet are Led Zeppelin. However, when you go to their shows, you’ll see that they are bringing something a little bit different.

Tip no.5 – do you look as good as you sound?

This goes in some walks of music than others, if you are a pop artist, I’d say it’s fifty/fifty these days. However, a rock artist will have more leeway. What I’m talking about is that when you walk on stage you sound great, and you have considered what the audience is looking at.  

You are probably walking on stage worrying about nailing your solo, and I understand that completely. However, the crowd may be more concerned with seeing something great, if you get a chord wrong but do a backflip - the crowd may be more forgiving.

Tip no.6 – have a common vision

Your bands may have started for fun, but quite quickly you have realised you are working towards something. You are a business and you need to go from selling ten tickets to a thousand. You want to achieve that, but do you understand that as a band this is your job. There is nothing worse than one person sitting there day and night on Instagram, facebook and social media, talking to promoters, booking gigs - and the bass player, well he is just there for the gig.

Tip no. 7 – give people a reason to bring their friends to your next show

Finally, I want to talk about something that I’m most passionate about. It's the most obvious thing that artists don’t understand, that they should. Giving a reason for people to bring their friends to your next gig is the basis of your entire business.  If they don’t you have work to do. This is your route to exponential growth and that’s what will take you from your mum's front room to Wembley Stadium.

If you are interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician please join us at WaterBear HQ for an Open Day or Order a Prospectus.

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