Learn how to navigate your local gig scene with up-and-coming artists

By Charlie Fenton

22 May 2024

Stepping foot into your local music scene can be hard to navigate for an up-and-coming musician. There are so many questions for an inexperienced artist; Where should I look? Should I get paid? How? It all looks so daunting.

We wanted to answer all these questions, and find out exactly how you go about getting gigs, even at the lowest level. So we went to the people who have done it, to make the daunting look a little less intimidating.

Take it from Jack Milner, bassist for band Penumbra and HARD AS NAILS. “I used to think there was nothing going on but I was so wrong. I was just looking in the wrong places,” he said. 

Social media is always a great shout to learn about local venues, and that is exactly what Jack did. “I went onto facebook and searched for local venues in my area and came across a few and made notes. Instagram and twitter also worked great too.”

“I then headed down to a few gigs at those places which were usually free or cost a couple of quid to get through the door.”

Though, a bit of courage was all that was needed to gain some real contacts and open up a few more doors. “I just got talking to people that were there you know got their social media.

“But what helped the most was walking up and talking to the bands after they had finished their sets. I would chat to them, get their socials, ask them questions, see where else they had played and then made a few notes.

“I was a bit nervous at first to go and talk to bands but they were always so friendly and super easy to talk to.”

He also tired just walking into pubs and venues asking for gigs. Jack said: “I did that once or twice, usually they just give you an email to send your request too but still, the more the merrier.” 

Penumbra in action

His final tip is to keep an eye out for posters around town: “Once you know how to spot them you see them everywhere, bands and artists playing at so many locations around town I had no idea about before seeing them on posters.

“Not just that, but bigger venues in your area may have billboards just full of posters so you can see what’s going down. These are really really useful.”

Jack said once he built up a few contacts he found his bands getting even more opportunities. He said: “Once I collected a reasonable amount of contacts, played a few gigs, showed my face at places, people and bands started coming to us to ask if we would want to play. 

“If a band had pulled out we were being contacted to see if we wanted to perform which is just really really cool.”

You can find out more about your local scene here.

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