Doug Orey is a Student Advisor at He graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 2009 where he earned a degree in Music Business and Management. He is currently an avid gigging musician heavily involved in the Boston rock scene. He is the lead singer/rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for The Field Effect ( He enjoys pizza and also has a beard.

So you have the line-up. You have the name. You have the songs. You’ve practiced until your fingers hurt and your lungs are empty. You’ve even picked those killer new shoes. You’re ready to take the stage and unleash your sonic awesomeness live upon the masses. So how do you get that first show?

When you have a brand new band booking those first few shows can be the hardest part. No one has heard of you so why should they book you at their venue? Johnny Slick says you can play his bar on Wednesday night at 6pm if you pay him $100 and guarantee you can bring at least 20 people willing to pay a $15 cover! As enticing as this deal sounds…don’t take it. I’ve heard a few different folks say you should expect to pay venue managers or promoters to play early on in your young band’s career. I’m here to tell you that you should NEVER pay to play. So here are a few tips, from my own experience, to help you nail down that first show.

Go to other shows. There is no doubt in my mind that there are other bands where you are. Get out there and go meet them. Become friends with them, especially bands that play music similar to your band. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about your project and what you’re hoping to do. Build up a solid rapport with the other bands on the scene and express your interest in opening one of their shows. We’re all in this together and every band remembers what it was like to book their first show.

Open mics are your friend. While not my favorite thing in the world, I acknowledge they can be a lot of fun. One thing about open mics that tends to be true nearly everywhere you go is they are run by fellow musicians from the local music scene. I just mentioned going to shows and meeting other bands…this gives folks from those bands an opportunity to hear some of your songs. If they like what they hear, you just upped your chances of landing an opening slot. Not to mention you might be able to earn a few fans!

Start small, be realistic and be honest. Everyone wants to play on a Friday or Saturday night to a packed house. The chances of this happening your first time out are going to be slim to none. If you’re e-mailing venues in town looking to book a show, start small. They are bound to ask what you think your draw is. If you think you can only get 10 friends out to the gig…tell them 10. Clubs talk to each other. If you tell one club that you can bring 100 people out and only 13 people show up they aren’t going to be happy. Start small, build your fan base and keep your reputation high.

If you want to be part of your local scene it’s important to immerse yourself in it. Be social and be sure to show your support for the other bands. We’re all in this together and want to help each other out the best we can.


Check out our Online Music Marketing course if you are interested in leveraging all of your digital marketing efforts.

Berkleemusic’s next term begins on September 24th, 2012.

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    I host a jam and am always letting new bands or young kids come down and do there thing. I tell them to get three songs down as good as they can and come and play for a crowd. The crowd always welcomes new bands or young bands looking for a start. They bring all there friends and that gives them a great lift.

    Russ that’s fantastic to hear! It can be really tough for a new band to get a break for that first show. Sounds like you have a really great thing going there!

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