The big gig checklist

Okay, after my last post, you might be saying – yeah but gimme something tangible! 

Gimme a list of things I should think about when I have a big gig coming up.  So, in that case, you can take these things with into consideration and you will be just fine when the big day comes…


  • Big gigs always have crazy timelines, unexpected needs, and random people will contact you daily asking you for stuff – always get them what they ask for same day, and always assume they didn’t get it if you don’t get a confirmation email – check in later if you don’t hear, just to be sure…  (but don’t write 8 emails a day, for goodness sake use your judgment!)
  • Get to the gig on time – and be prepared to have to walk a ways with your gear (so get there a half hour before they told you to load in)
  • Make sure they know in advance if you are going to have anyone accompanying you the day of the show, as big events have security, etc.
  • Gauge carefully if this is a gig you should do solo or with band.  Even if they won’t pay you more to play with band, remember that on large stages, especially when they are outdoors, band is better.
  • If you are opening for someone you’ve never opened for before, listen to their music, and listen to their most recent album – that way when they ask you if you’d like to sing with them, you can say “yes, i love that song ____ – are you going to play that one?”  (please don’t spend more than 2 hours on this tho – cuz more than 2 hours is overthinking it!)
  • Send a press release about getting the gig, a press release about playing the gig, and a press release after the gig about how great the gig was.
  • Think about what you will say in interviews before you get to them – I’m not saying be fake, but be sure you know what your soundbytes will be, and if you get nervous you can always fall back and direct the conversation to the spirit of that point.
  • Hire a photographer and/or videographer to follow you around that day – and if need be, make sure you get permission from the event to have your own “band photographer”
  • Promote the gig as if nobody else is promoting it – don’t sit back and collect whatever the gig is gonna do for you, work to bring people to the event – keep the mentality that any show with your name on it has to be a success and promote it like mad
  • Invite the people who have been good to you to be there to see it happen- even if they can’t make it, you’ve seized the opportunity to alert them to your great success milestone and as these pile up, they’ll feel the pulse of what you’re up to


  • Don’t hide.  You’re not small.  People just don’t know you yet.  Don’t let that make you feel small.  You’re only small if you let yourself be seen that way, and if you see yourself that way.  Remember.  You do this because you are good at it.  You belong there.  Roar like a lion!
  • Whenever you say your name, say it in the affirmative.  No question marks at the end.
  • For goodness sake play your BEST SONGS, the ones audiences have proven reaction to – don’t try out new material if you haven’t heard audience response to it yet, and play songs you are passionate about
  • Have a setlist – nobody thinks it’s cute when you pretend you’ve never done this before
  • Know how much time you have to play, and leave the stage before your time is up
  • Conduct your soundcheck efficiently and confidently – everyone there are people
  • Listen to the experts on the things to keep in mind (especially what to wear, if you are going to be on television)
  • Bring two options for wardrobe, think about hair and makeup – even the most natural looking people do their hair and wear makeup on large stages
  • Take full advantage of the press activity going on as part of the event – if there is a press conference or press tent BE THERE
  • When asked how it feels to be there, tell the truth.  Really.  It’s ok to say you are psyched.  It’s not uncool to be enthusiastic about something.  It’s actually uncool to act cool about it. 
  • Politely contact anyone and everyone involved, keep track of a list of people and what they do, and send them ALL thank you emails after the gig (you never know who will have a different job one day and remember this about you)
  • By all means, tweet and facebook in the greenroom and backstage – but DON’T BRING YOUR PHONE TO A PRESS CONFERENCE!  It’s too tempting.  Keep the tweeting away from the press.
  • Be prepared to be photographed anytime you are not backstage or in the bathroom.  That’s not to say smile like a fool the whole time.  But keep a generally photographable countenance, so you are not surprised when you see a face you weren’t expecting online later…
  • Go out to the merch table after your gig – this is one thing that IS as cool to do in a big venue as it is in a small venue (unless they explicitly ask you not to do this) – let people photograph you.
  • Have free giveaways and/or cards with your album imagery and your website URL on them, so people can take them from the merch table if they don’t buy a CD/merch right there


  • Don’t wait, put out another video, song or album right away – so anyone you captured in that timeframe knows you are alive and on the move
  • If you don’t have new material, re-imagine some of your previous material – remember, new music is what’s new to people who haven’t heard it before these days…