Bob Craypoe (also known as R. L. Crepeau) is a musician, writer, webmaster, 3D artist, and creator of the Punksters comic strip series.
There are some obvious things you know you must bring to a gig but, in reality, there are a number of small things you should also bring to a gig that are often forgotten about.
Always Have Spare Cables and Accessories
When you are playing out on a regular basis, your equipment will take a beating. With the elements of time and usage, equipment eventually fails. Your instrument and speaker cables included. Always make sure you have more cables than what you will need. You never know when one will fail. If you only need three instrument cables and you only bring three, what happens if one fails?
If you have some things that use batteries, it is always good to have a spare battery around if one should suddenly decide not to work. Batteries are used for such things as effects pedals, electronics in electric-acoustic guitars, active pickups in electric guitars, and so forth.
You should always make sure you have a spare set of strings for your guitar or other stringed instrument. If a string decides to pop during a gig, you could take a quick break to replace the string. You could be back up and running in just a few minutes.
I have a backup power supply for my effects pedal board, extra speaker cables, mic cables and instrument cables. I have an extra microphone as well. I make sure I have extra guitar picks and various other accessories. Make a regular practice of having extras in the event that something goes wrong.
Always Have Extension Cords and Power Strips
There are plenty of times where you may have to run an extension cord from an outlet a good distance away from where you are playing. The owners of the bar expect that you will be equipped with everything you will need to play at their establishment. I have done outdoor gigs as well as indoor gigs. So I always have a one hundred foot extension cord and a few shorter ones as well. I have used the hundred foot extension cord for the outdoor gigs where we were a good distance away from the closest building.
Make sure you have a power strip with multiple outlets. Most of the ones you buy are six outlet strips. You will usually need at least one. I usually keep a spare one around as well just for whatever emergency or unexpected event that may occur.
Always Have Extra Set Lists With You
I try to always keep a set list in my guitar case. But in the event that, for some reason, it is not in the guitar case when I go to do a gig, I always keep spares in my car. Also, I always keep a set list in front of me and if someone from the audience wants to see my set list, I hand them a copy for them to look at.
Sometimes someone in the audience will know an owner of another establishment and may ask to see your set list to tell the person they know about you and the type of music you play. I have even met owners from another establishment at my gigs. They sometimes stop at other establishments to check out their competition. They may ask to see your set list to decide if they want you to perform at their venue.
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If you are in a band, other band members may forget to bring their list with them, You could give them one of your extra copies if necessary. It sounds like such a minor detail but it can make a difference in some scenarios.
Always Have Business Cards or Flyers
I have met a lot of people throughout the years while playing at a gig. Some people have asked me for a business card so that they could contact me to play at a party they were throwing. I’ve gotten a number of gigs at private parties that way. Business cards can be costly, so you could also use cheap flyers instead that basically have the same information on them.
I have made small hand flyers that are about one quarter of a page in size. So each page I printed up had four of them that I would cut out. If anyone approached me and wanted more information about me, I would give them a hand flyer with information like: the website address, phone number to reach me for bookings and maybe a brief description on the type of music I played.
Always Keep Your Schedule With You
A lot of times, when playing a gig, the owner of the establishment will want to book more dates. So I always make sure I have my schedule with me for quick reference. That way I could book something immediately. You have to remember that many of the people doing the bookings at various establishments want to take the easy route. So if you are already there and they liked your performance, they may want to book a couple of dates while you are there. It’s just easier for them. It’s also better for you to try to book things while you are there too.
Having a printed out copy of your schedule with you for quick reference allows you to book future engagements and prevents you from booking yourself at two places on the same night. Sometimes you may even miss out on opportunities if you are not able to book right away. If you don’t have your schedule with you to check on what dates may be available, you won’t book right there on the spot. Then if you call back a few days later, you may find that they went ahead and just booked a bunch of bands already for the next couple of months. Then they tell you to call back in a month or so. Of course, all of your competitors will be doing the same. I know this happens because this has happened to me.
Always Have a Pen
It sounds stupid to say that you should always carry a pen but, in reality, many people forget to bring one with them to a gig. If you want to book another date, you need a pen to write it down. If you meet someone who may offer you some tips on where you might want to go play, you write it down so that you don’t forget. In fact, if there is anything that you would want to write down so that you don’t forget, you will need a pen.
Another thing is that we can often network when we play out. You really never know who you may run into when you are out playing a gig. They don’t always have a business card with them either, so you may need to write their information down. I don’t know how many times someone went to give me a business card and they suddenly realized they were out.
Always Have a Cell Phone
If your car breaks down when you are going home after a gig, the last thing you will want to do is to leave it unattended when it is loaded with all of your expensive musical equipment. You may want to call someone to help you load your stuff up into their car or truck before you call a tow truck. You need a cell phone to do that. It might also be a good idea to ask someone you know in advance, when something like that happens, if they would be willing to help you out that way.
Sometimes, you may get lost on your way to a gig because it is a new place that you have never played and someone else booked the gig for you. You may need to call a band member to get directions to where you are going. I have seen that scenario play out before. Believe me, it happens. Also, if it appears that you may be a little late to a gig, it’s a good idea to call the people at the venue to let them know that you may be a little late. Just as a matter of common courtesy.
There are probably a few other things that I have forgotten to mention but these are some of the few simple things that are often overlooked by people just starting to get gigs. Remembering these things help to make it so that you will be more likely to get even more gigs in the future. Success is when preparation meets opportunity. So always make sure you are prepared for every opportunity.
© 2017 Bob Craypoe