Getting/Holding Onto Gigs

Joe just chillin'

Getting gigs is extremely difficult in todays environment. Everyone if scrambling for a piece of the pie.  You not only have to be a great musician (to hold the gig because we all know you can initially fool some people upfront but you won’t last once you are put to the test) you also have to be a fantastic business person.

If you think you can simply get a gig and hold onto it forever just because you got your foot in the door, you’re are sadly mistaken.  By working in the corporate world for some time, I knew the saying “It is much easier to keep a client than to find a new one”.  The same holds true with the music business and gigs.

Some of the gigs I’ve earned (notice I said earned) and relationships I’ve created at the venues where my bands perform, are directly attributed to my understanding of both sides of the story.  I want to play music and hold onto these gigs but like it or not, I’m also responsible to help promote and think of new ways to bring people in to hear my band.

I also need to look out into the audience during our performances to make sure that if we are playing in a restaurant atmosphere, the people across from each other don’t need to lean in, to talk.  Volume, long breaks, inappropriate dress code and simply taking advantage of the situation, are the biggest contributors to lost gigs.

I’m too smart to know that just because I’m in the door at a venue, there isn’t someone right behind me waiting for me to screw up.  You can’t get a gig and think your work is done.  It’s a ongoing work in progress and you have to adapt as things change (management, audience, time of year aka season, etc.).

So the next time you lose a gig other than budget cuts which is definitely out of your hands, look back and ask yourself, “Did I always make sure management was happy?”, “Were we always on time?”, “Did my band members tip valet and the wait & bar staff?”, “Did I promote our gigs enough?”, “Did I (we) keep learning new material to keep things fresh for us, the staff and most importantly, the audiences?”

There is a lot more to getting and keeping a gig then you might expect.  Don’t take anything for granted and make sure you approach each and every performance at your gig, as if it’s your first time at the venue.  Work hard, be honest, be business-like and you will reap the rewards.

Best of luck!



Joe was born in New York State and moved to The Big Apple after graduating college with a music performance degree. During the early years of Joe’s career in NYC, he performed in various groups with some of the best jazz musicians in the world. He has performed with bassist Ben Wolfe, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, saxophonist Jerry Weldon, trumpeter Tom Harrell and pianist Joel Weiskopf to name a few. When not touring, Harry Connick Jr. and musicians from his band would sit in with Joe’s jazz quartet. In addition to Joe’s jazz chops, he is an accomplished rock, blues, funk and pop drummer who spent many years recording and touring the east coast music scene and regularly performed at national festivals. In 2004, Joe left NY for the southwest in search of warmer weather, new industry connections and more opportunities to tour and record. His pocket groove, stylistic approach and the depth & breadth of his musical knowledge, was greeted with open arms. Joe stays busy with a heavy regional live performance schedule, touring to other parts of the country, recording drum/percussion tracks for various artists and giving back through his clinics. In addition to his time spent behind the kit, Joe runs JC Productions, which books music for a variety of venues and bands. When in Arizona, Joe often performs with well-known organist Papa John DeFrancesco. Joe has also performed with Joey DeFrancesco, Johnny DeFrancesco and Francine Reed.

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