As a musician just getting started in the industry, you’re probably ready to get out there and get some play time in. You’re excited to accept just about any opportunity that comes your way as long as it means you’re getting noticed for your craft. But there are still some red flags to watch out for. So, when is it okay to turn down a gig?
The venue’s booker won’t sign your rider agreement
Even if it seems like this is an uber-important gig, you’ll want to make sure you get this agreement signed before you agree to perform. This is your ticket to getting paid. You might take on an unpaid opportunity or two in the beginning, but once you have enough time under your belt and you’re starting to book more recognizable spots, it’s important to make sure the booker follows through. If you feel you’re getting the cold shoulder or like something is just off, you’ll probably want to pass.
The promoter has a bad reputation
If the word on the street it to stay away – stay away! Trust the experiences of other bands, and make sure you do your homework before accepting the spot. You can easily look up the reputation of just about any venue online. And, it’s fairly easy to sleuth out info about promoters. If the history is not up-to-par, respectfully pass.
The room is always empty
If you’re offered a chance to play at a place where you’ve been in the past and realized you’re the only one in the room – literally – you may want to go back a time or two before accepting to see if this was pure coincidence or happens all the time. Unless you’re simply looking for some practice, it’s useless to spend time preparing to play to an empty room. The lack of an audience could mean the venue doesn’t promote artists, it’s not in a hot spot for event goers, or there’s no longer an interest in spending time at that spot, which could mean its set to close in the near future. Again, do your homework.
The venue doesn’t fit your style
You’re likely familiar with one genre and there’s a certain type of music that fits your style. If the venue doesn’t jive with this, the venue-goers won’t either. It’s always possible to present something out-of-the-box and gain a few new fans, but it’s never a guarantee if you’re planning to play at a place that doesn’t fit to begin with. If you’re into taking big risks, you can give it a go, but you’re likely to be better off someplace that makes a little more sense.
Of course, you’ll want to always keep an open mind. If you think you can wing it with a tough crowd and make it worthwhile or a gig is just too good to pass up over an unsigned doc, that’s totally up to you. Trust your instincts but keep an eye out for red flags along the way.