SCHMOOZING 101: How to get gigs with the “Paul Blow Method”!
Need to book some shows for your cool new band? Here's how to do it...

by Paul Diamond Blow



I’ve been playing in bands for over 20 years and have played hundreds of gigs. Most of the shows I’ve played have been at rock nightclubs and seedy dive bars, but I’ve also played all ages shows, parties, and an occasional outdoor show. Getting gigs is always a hassle and a pain in the buttocks, but it is a necessary evil in the rock’n’roll business, and of course it’s worth it to see your name in the papers and to play in front of an eager audience. That’s what it’s all about, right?

There are many ways to get gigs (some involve getting naked, but I won’t cover that one here), but if you use my trademarked “Paul Blow Method,” you too will be able to book some live shows for your cool band. Here’s how to schmooze your way to the top…

Demo tapes/CDs
If you don’t have a demo yet, I urge you to get your lazy band into a studio and record a few songs. All you really need for a demo is 3-5 songs. You don’t have to spend a fortune on this, just get a recording that captures the essence of what your band sounds like. There are many digital studios around that won’t charge a lot, so check it out. Make sure you put your strongest song first, and forget about any long intros—booking agents receive so many demos from bands, they will probably just listen to the first 30 seconds of your demo. If the first 30 seconds is boring, chances are your demo will end up in the trash bin. Cassettes used to be fine for demos, but nowadays, with blank CD-Rs and CD-burners so cheap, it is better to put your demo on CD. Never send a demo on an 8-track tape.

Nightclubs/booking agents
Now that you’ve got your demo, find the clubs in your town that feature live music in your genre. Give them a call and find out who the booking agent is, or better yet, go down in person with your demo in hand. Talk to the booker and hype your band a little (but not too much exaggeration). After you’ve gotten your demo to the right person, give them a couple weeks and then start calling. Don’t settle for leaving a message with their answering service; they probably won’t call you back. Keep calling and calling until they either tell you, “Quit calling, you moron!” or until they give you a show. If you’re just starting out you may have to settle for a week night—take it! If you can get people to come out to your show on a Tuesday night it makes you look good.

I’ve also gotten word that there is a new technology available nowadays that makes phone calls obsolete. It’s called “email.” Most clubs and bars also have Myspace or Facebook profile pages where you can contact them. Now that I think about it, my last band booked ninety percent of our shows through Myspace. Heck, forget about the phone calls. Take advantage of the new technology. Embrace it and prosper.

Dive bars are by far the easiest places to get gigs. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t get into your town’s top clubs right off the bat; sometimes you’ve got to start at the bottom and work your way up. That’s how I achieved my success—one dive bar at a time.

Network with other bands
This is the best and easiest way to get shows: If you know other gigging bands in your town, network with them and maybe they will add your band on their shows. This is the way my bands have always gotten most of our gigs—either other bands have called us asking us to play with them on their scheduled show, or I have gotten a date from a club and put together the lineup (3-4 bands). If you don’t know many of the bands in your area, start going to local shows and meet some people. When you see a band you like, talk to them. Give them a demo and tell ’em how much you’d love to open up for them sometime. This is what we call “schmoozing” in the biz. It works. It also works best to network with bands that play the same style of music as you do.

What to do when you get a gig
Promote, promote, promote! You’ve got your gig, now you’ve got to make sure people will show up! Send an email to your local music rags informing them of the upcoming show at least two weeks in advance (a month is best). Go to Kinkos and make 11”x17” flyers, then plaster them in records shops, coffee houses, bars—anywhere you can. Make sure your band name is in big print and include the date of the gig and the club address. Call all your friends (if you have any) and tell them to come down to the show. Hand out free CDs (if you have some) to the people who do show up—maybe they’ll like it and come to more shows.

If the club you’re performing at tells you to show up at 7:00 to load in, don’t be late. Be friendly with the sound man (if there is one) and other club employees—be a schmoozer! Get the club staff on your side. Later, if the show was a success (people showed up), call or email the booker a couple weeks later, thank him/her, and inquire about possible future gigs.

The “Paul Blow Method” never fails
If you’re willing to spend some quality time making phone calls, sending emails, making flyers, going to shows, etc., you should get some gigs. If your band is actually good the chances are even better. Of course, you could always try and find a manager or booking agent to do all this for you, but make sure you get a real booking agent—someone who actually has contacts in the music scene. Don’t let your drummer’s girlfriend be your manager—big mistake! I’ve always preferred the D.I.Y. approach because I feel the need to be a control freak, but my bands have gotten some occasional good gigs through so-called “managers.” Just be careful!

There you have it… now get off your duffs and get to work—there’s schmoozing and promoting that need to be done. Remember, there ain’t no shame in the schmoozing game. Get crackin’!