Although it may seem unrealistic to some, it IS possible for hardworking musicians to play the same stage and lineup as their favourite bands!
Not only can it be a dream come true, it is awesome exposure for your band. The perfect opportunity to play in front of bigger crowds and the potential to gain new fans is massive. It’s sad but true that many punters don’t go to local gigs. They go to live shows when their favourite overseas band is in town but it stops there. However, if the support act blows their mind, then just maybe they’ll keep an eye on that band and go to see them again when they play local shows too.
So you’ve heard about a big name band coming to your city, what to do next?
First thing to ask yourself is, in the words of Korn, ‘are you ready’? The last thing you want is to leave a bad impression in front of a big new crowd. You must have a full set of songs, gigging experience, play tight and the ability to be professional in all aspects at a potentially huge show.
Ready? Killer! Next you want to find out who is choosing the support acts and how to apply. Majority of the time, the support bands are chosen by the tour organisers. So it may be the touring company or the local promoter, and very occasionally the actual headlining band gets a say. These people are professionals (well at least they should be), so they know about the local scenes and what bands are creating a buzz. That means you need to make an ONGOING impression, start working on your reputation NOW. You want to be perceived as a passionate and pro band that works hard, promotes hard, pulls crowds, respects venues, polite to promoters and constantly improves.
Once you’ve got your band in a good position, then it can be as simple as sending an email to a promoter to ask for consideration as a support act. Find out who the promoter is by looking at the tour announcements, and read their website to see if they have preferred methods of application.
If an email seems appropriate, then follow these steps when contacting…
1. Send to the correct email address and find out the persons name that will be receiving the email
2. Acknowledge that they are getting heaps of emails from other bands and thank them for their valuable time
3. Mention the gig, date, venue etc to show you are serious about it and that you have gone to the effort of knowing all details
4. Sell your band – name, style, bio, origin, history, influences, reviews, website etc. Attach a promo pic, links/downloads to songs, video clips etc, offer to send them a physical cd if they prefer. Tell them how you can help them i.e. hand out flyers, online promotion, history of attracting big crowds, lending equipment etc
5. Wish them the best with the tour, and thanks for their consideration of your band
Keep in mind that half the time they have probably already decided who they want as supports before even receiving applications. They might lean towards their friends bands, or bands that they owe favours to… So just keep applying each time and be polite so that they remember you for the next tour.
Some promoters might accept things in the post, so if it seems appropriate you can also send them a promo package. Perhaps a nice laminate with a photo and key selling points of your bands. Include a personalized letter requesting they keep your band in mind for future tour-opening opportunities.
You got the gig! Congratulations you legends, now don’t screw it up! The event organizers will notice how much effort you put into promoting the gig, so be sure to ask them how they would like you to help out, maybe they would like you to stick to just sharing it on the internet, or maybe they would be grateful for you to hand out flyers/posters in your local area. Chuck flyers into any merch orders, display the poster at your shows, tell your crowds on stage at your next gig, think outside the square and be eager & enthusiastic.
Depending on the size of the tour, offer your services to the event organisers in regards to lending equipment, transport, accommodation, food etc, chances are they won’t need it, but they would appreciate knowing there is help available if needed.
Be aware! Whilst your band is not the main drawcard, you are still worthy to be treated appropriately by the event managers. Don’t get sucked in by ‘paytoplay’ or ‘sell tickets for your payment’. You are contributing to the show, so you deserve a small payment, reasonable set time and reasonable conditions. If in doubt, check with others in the local scene who can help you.
Most of all, dominate on the night! Play an awesome show, stick to set times, help other bands get gear on and off stage, be polite to everyone including sound guy, lights guy, bar staff etc, remember the show isn’t all about you, it’s about the touring band, but handle it well and you’ll reap the rewards, be sure to enjoy the moment!
Got any tips? Share em below!