Whether you're a professional world-renowned musician or you're just starting out, there are some ground rules that you must know and abide by. Most of the pros will tell you they learned the hard way, but fear not, you don't have to! Here are 4 tips to ensure that your first gig is a major success.
1. Be over prepared
If you're going onstage in front of a crowd of people to play a list of songs, especially if you're being paid to do so, then you better make sure you know those songs. Don't try to wing it, even if you're confident/good at reading music on the spot. The crowd will be able to spot your unpreparedness and lack of enthusiasm, and your performance and overall experience will suffer. Make sure you scope out the venue beforehand and get there early on the day of your performance. As badass as it may be to show up 2 seconds before your performance, it's never a good idea especially for your first show as a pro musician.
2. Keep your game face on
You're a musician, and it's your job to entertain people and liven up the mood. Even if you had a really bad day, don't let the audience know it. Play your heart out and eventually you'll cheer yourself up. Even if by the end people start coming up to you and you just want to go home, simply humour their questions and converse with them. You'll never know what doors of opportunity you may open.
3. Have your info on deck
If you're going around with a guitar strapped to your back, or playing in the street, or especially after playing a show, you'll garner lots of attention and you never know who might be interested in contacting you and where those contacts may lead you. However, if you simply tell them "Find me on Facebook!" or something along those lines, consider that connection lost. Invest in some business cards, you can get them for cheap and delivered right to your door through VistaPrint. That way it'll be much more convenient and therefore more likely for people to contact you.
4. Have the right gear
Make sure you have extra cables and strings, and make sure your guitar/other instrument(s) is in tip top shape before heading to your venue. If you don't have the means to purchase and/or transport pieces of equipment from point A to point B, there are plenty of solutions. You could borrow equipment from a friend, or even rent gear online and have it delivered through Lendr, which is an upcoming app that aims to revolutionize the rental industry. Furthermore, if you have a piece of equipment that is finicky or always seems to be breaking down, invest in replacing it. There's nothing worse than when something goes wrong on stage, and you don't want to convey to your audience/event planner that you don't care about the gig.
And remember… be patient. No guitarist’s first gig was the one that made them great. Every gig you get is practice for the next great one. Even on bad nights, if you learned something and got a little bit better, it’s a win!