Hello everyone. I was wondering what it is I need to do to set up a 6 song set at a pub/bar. It's going to be and my buddy playing acoustic with vocals. Please help I have no idea where to start!
First off, get your songs down so that you can play them relatively perfectly. Make sure that all the songs are in 1 or 2 cohesive genres, and depending on the bar, try to keep it to classics, as it will make it easier to get gigs.
Next, go to the bar, sit down at the bar, buy a beer, and get talking to the bartender. Half the time (in my experience), this person is the owner of the bar. Ask them about shows, gigs, and who organizes and puts them on, with mention to wondering who the local promoters are, etc.
Now that you have the name/number of the promoter, you are free to contact them about playing a show at the bar. If the owner does the shows themselves, keep talking. In fact, keep talking anyway. But them a drink, buy yourself another drink. There is no better friend then a bar owner or a promoter, anyone who can send musical work your way.
After that, if your show isn't set already, go ahead and try to get into contact with the promoter, and make sure you find out exactly what they want from you. Sometimes they will want to hear a demo of your music. This can be as simple as the audio from a camera video of one of your songs, or you can just assure him/her that you are a cover band or whatever.
JUST REMEMBER- Talking only gets you so far. If you get this guy thinking you're hot stuff and then you go give a terrible performance, don't expect to be invited back.
Also, sets are usually 30-45m, and when nervous you may play songs faster, so go with 7-8 songs.
Put on a good show and you should get repeat business, as well as attention from other people, and maybe the offer for more gigs. Good luck and post how it goes!
Some additional thoughts:
1) In my experience, a six-song set really isn't long enough unless you're doing something like an open mic, though it could work if you'll be playing with other acts (see #3). Double your repertoire at the very least to start. The pub owner is going to want an act that keeps butts in the seats long enough to have a couple of drinks. Six songs probably won't do it.
2) Part of your pitch should include how the pub's business will benefit from your appearance. Have a plan to put together about how you're going to promote your shows and be ready to talk about it. Be ready to discuss how many people a potential appearance could bring in (e.g. how many family, friends, co-workers, etc are likely to stop by during your set). This is something the pub owner is going to be thinking about, so be ready to present your case. And be ready to talk about compensation, with the understanding that you may have to spot the guy a gig or two for free to get into his good graces.
3) Do other bands/acts play at this particular pub? If so, get to know them. Ask them how they got the gig. If you're not familiar with the pub or the clientele find out what the general vibe is, what kind of music goes over well there. If you and one of the others acts hit it off, explore the possibility of doing a show together. In every band I've been, half of our gigs came from other bands asking us to play a show a with them, and we often did the same for other groups.
4) Find out when the slow night(s) is and offer to play that night as a free audition. Tell the owner you'll probably several of your best buddies in attendance and you'll advertise the heck out of the show. You get chance to show your stuff and the pub owner gets some extra business on a normally slow night. If you can make a slow a bit more profitable, you'll have an easier time getting gigs there in the future.
Absolutely, if your songs are long enough or if you got "A Day In The Life" in your setlist . But even if you come in at 4 minutes for every song (or 3.5 minutes with 30 seconds of banter between each) you're still looking at filling six minutes of non-musical time, which is a lot in a 30 minute set.
Most of the pubs/bars I frequent that have live music (thinking solo act or duo here) usually have at least an hour's worth of music, sometimes spread over two sets that have a break in between, so that's where I'm coming from.
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