Majority of musicians are always looking for opportunities to gig, it might be some money, some exposure or a good time. It’s all a walk in the park, right? Not quite, my friend. There are a lot of situation where it’s advisable to say no to a performance offer, and here are four of the most notorious circumstances.
1. The venue or promoter has a bad reputation
Firstly, avoid transacting with anyone who’s very obviously looking to rip you off. Do your research on spaces and people, and read everything before you put to pen.
This advice is especially relevant if you accept a pay-to-play gig, in which the promoter gets a quick buck by getting young musicians to sell tickets and give the money to the promoter. If you accept a pay-to-play gig, that’s on you.
Make sure your choice of venue is straight-shooting both financially and ethically. In the hyper-connected modern age, any affiliation with the wrong, socially irresponsible people can severely damage your reputation. That means if a venue supports homophobia, racism, sexism, or any kind of oppressive ideologies, it will be better you stay away. Your reputation means a lot, and it’ll save you a world of trouble if you’re responsible about who you choose to associate yourself with.
2. The finances don’t justify it
Getting a lot of pay for a gig is interesting, and a huge payout from a gig is a quick, easy way to deem a show “certified worth it.” However, there’s another element that can balance out the financial aspect, and that’s good exposure.
If a show is going to get your band incredible PR and exposure, that attribute can outweigh some pretty bleak financial scenarios. Ultimately, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of, say, a gig that might be a drag but could take care of all the payments for your van vs. a show that you would lose money on but could catapult your career.
3. You’re oversaturating your market
One of the principles you’ll need to adopt when your band start getting bigger is to not to play too many gigs within the same radius. Oversaturation simply means that if you play shows all the time in the same area, people will stop showing up, and your band will lose momentum and you lose a big fan base. This process is something very personal and very affected by your scene and where you are, but the hard numbers should speak for themselves.
Choose your shows wisely, so that your pull grows in size and doesn’t diminish. If you do start to see your numbers drop and you aren’t just about to make a big announcement or career move with your band, taking a break can be a great strategy to set yourself up for a little comeback.
Bottom line: If you think that playing as many shows as humanly possible in your hometown is the way to go, you can go ahead and let go of that one.
4. You’re underprepared
If your band isn’t prepared to take the gig (and can’t feasibly get prepared in time), don’t take the gig. It’s that simple. If your material you will be needing isn’t ready for the public, if you can’t bring the number of people the venue is expecting, or if your equipment isn’t performance ready, the gig isn’t for you.
Take your band seriously and invest in it as a brand. Build a foundation of trust and reliability with promoters and venues by consistently delivering on your word and being thoroughly prepared for every gig, even if that means saying no to a show every now and then.