“I just don’t need any more gigs.” I’ve never heard that sentiment. Ever. Even in the days when I was playing 250 shows a year, even when I talk to bands killing it on the summer music festival circuit now, I’ve just never heard it. Too many shitty gigs maybe, too few great musical experiences, absolutely. In fact, it’s often not even about the money, but rather, about the musical connection with the crowd.
Huge shows and stages are cool, to be sure. But, the sad fact is they can feel kind of hollow when your band is sweating in the sun at 2:00 pm for a bunch of hungover kids just waiting for the headliner to hit the stage six hours later. Then again, there are nights in small clubs where history is made in front of 20 people. There are gigs where you play a backyard party for a friend of a friend where suddenly a guy from CAA is sliding his card into your jacket and talking about a private show on a boat in Catalina. (Take that gig, at any price, by the way.)
This magazine is dedicated to “Performers;” those who would brave the roads and crowds, navigating the maze of personal struggles and an uninterested industry just to plug in and get off. Everything we do, from gear reviews to live scene spotlights, even this little music business column, is geared toward helping you create more of those live experiences for yourself, your band, and yes, the people whose lives might be changed by your music.
Maybe you’re booking your own shows, or you’ve reached the level where you have a dedicated agent; you might even have a manger that does all of this for you. Great. You’re on your way. But, here’s the thing, I’ll bet you are playing the same kind of clubs of differing capacities, some with better green rooms, some with more drink tickets. Keep it up, pay the bills, save up to record the next cut, rinse and repeat.
But in between those gigs, wouldn’t it be nice to be surprised by a musical experience? What if you could win over not just fans, but also make new friends and connections?
That is the bold idea behind GigSalad, the most diverse booking marketplace for event planners, and regular people alike, to book bands, performers, and entertainment acts directly.
GigSalad was co-founded in 2007 by Mark Steiner and Steve Tetrault as a simple online directory. It has since grown across the U.S. and Canada to be an active marketplace with millions of users. It’s been described as, “what Uber did for transport, and Airbnb did for lodging, an online live performance marketplace called GigSalad is doing for live entertainment.” The idea being, a gig can, and should, be a unique experience for the performer and the client. And that client might be a housewife in Topeka having a BBQ party, or a local clothing store wanting a solo act for a store opening, or bunch of roommates who just want a living room concert.
Steiner, the company’s CEO, recently shared the passion behind his vision: “We find that performers playing for everyday people become friends with their hosts. What I really love to see are lives being transformed from these introductions. We connect tens of thousands of performers with hundreds of thousands of event planners of all sizes. The magic happens when people are connecting directly through their talent and passion.”
Here’s how it works.
Performers sign up and create a basic PromoKit for free at gigsalad.com. You then set some parameters regarding the distance you’re willing to travel, minimum rates, and general styles of what kind of performances you can do (full band, solo acoustic, ambient keyboard, mariachi, comedy, bar mitzvahs, juggling; you name it, people are booking it). GigSalad then sends “Gig Leads” into your dashboard inbox, and you can respond by giving them a quote or declining the request. There is a small service fee of 4% for booked gigs, which performers can pay or split with the client booking them; most decide to build that into their quote. If the client accepts the quote, they send a deposit to book you (PayPal) and you receive the remainder of your gig money after the performance.
Those are the basics. There are “Pro” and “Featured” tiers averaging between $25-$50 per month for dedicated musicians who want to supercharge their bookings by increasing leads. These unlock profile features such as video and audio clips, higher deposits limits, GigSoup listings (very cool and odd requests), as well as top placement visibility on the platform for prospective clients.
For some of you, this can be a simple addition to your current bookings, and for others, this just might score you that Catalina boat gig!