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5 Questions To Ask When Booking A Gig

Photo: Lamoi S.

Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off and you are in the process of booking a gig. So now what? When considering accepting a gig, put yourself and your brand first. Do not feel bad about asking questions, even if it’s a ton of questions. As an artist time is your most precious commodity, and the time and energy you put into perfecting your skill and preparing for your performances is also precious. It’s important to gather all the necessary information to make an informed decision about whether this gig aligns with your work and values.

Here are 5 questions you can ask to determine if you’re the right fit for this gig, and if it’s the right fit for you.

What is the theme of the event?

This is a great way to find out if the organizer has done their research on your art. If you are a niche artist, and the theme of the event is outside your current breadth of work, there’s a good chance the organizer is not invested in your art enough to make it an appropriate fit. If your art work covers a wide range of topics, themed events can make your preparation easier, and your transition from one piece to the next smoother.

Who are the sponsors of the event?

When there are [corporate] sponsors attached to an event you are essentially working for them as well, since they are often financially invested in the success of the show. It is important to know who you are working for, and if your art/values/themes are in alignment/contradiction with theirs, and vice versa.

How long is your set—As opposed to how many pieces are they requiring? 

Asking for a set duration may get you more stage exposure; they may request one piece which can be two minutes long or they may request a 10-minute performance, which can be two-three pieces, depending on the length of the pieces. This breakdown may help you determine if the gig is worth your time and energy. It may not be cost or energy effective to travel to a show 45 minutes away to do only 1 piece or a 5 minute set.

How many artists are on the bill? And who are they? 

If you are an emerging artist serious about your opportunities and value of your time, it may not benefit you to be on a bill with a lengthy performance program. It will limit your stage time and exposure, and a lengthy performance program runs the risk of making your one piece or 5-minute set forgettable. You can also know what type of event you are being booked for, and how the organizers value your art and art in general by the artists they are booking.

How will they be handling payment? 

Be very straight forward. Will payment be made before, or after the event, and will it be cash, cheque or direct deposit? As an artist you should be fairly compensated for your time, energy and skill. If they are charging an admission fee, and are not paying you for your time and art, you will need to ask a completely different set of questions, which will be covered in a later post.

Getting so caught up in the excitement of booking a gig that you forget to gather the necessary information can create uncomfortable situations down the road, and be a lingering bad taste in the mouth of all parties involved. Build a foundation of consistent professionalism, and plainly put, show your industry that you’re not a pushover. You don’t need to fake it till you make it. Have a prepared list of questions that will help you determine if this gig is right for you. If you are satisfied, book the gig, pop all the bottles, and rock it!


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