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What Music Fits Where

6WhatMusicFitsWhere0Knowing where to play is just as important as knowing how to play. Though landing a gig anywhere is a huge event for any new rock or pop band, understanding the music styles most typically found at any given club is vital to getting your music to the right people. You may play the best pop music in history, but your music will fall on deaf ears if you're playing at a bluegrass club.

But knowing where to play isn't simply a matter of fitting your music style with a venue's preference. The venue's size will also figure prominently into whether or not you play there. The following article takes you on a virtual tour of concert venues, their sizes, how they operate and what they love to hear.

Large Venues

Large concert venues, such as arenas or pavilions, are usually unavailable to new bands, even if you've garnered a massive local following. These places have thousands of seats to fill, after all, and most local bands just aren't capable of doing that. Large concert venues are famous for spending thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars on one concert; they typically supply all production elements, occasionally even providing house music equipment to streamline the set-up and break-down process, and have beautifully accommodating backstage areas complete with food, drink, and offstage entertainment per each act's rider (a written request for supplies). These concert venues tend to favor rock music and pop music, mostly because these are the acts that sell the most tickets, and are notoriously discriminating in the concerts they choose to host.

That said, it's not impossible for a new bands playing rock music or pop music to get a gig at an enormous concert venue; it just takes a bit of strategy. Getting acquainted with your local radio stations, for instance, is a great way to get into a large concert venue. Many stations host showcases or promotional concerts that either feature new bands or put them in opening slots. And if you manage to land a slot on one of these showcases, you have a way to show the promoter that your music style is worth remembering. Let the concert promoter know that you're always available for opening slots, even if you have to go on hours and hours before the touring bands play. Having a large concert venue listed on your tour history looks good to agents, labels and publicists.

Mid-Sized Venues

Large clubs and dance halls -- spaces falling in the mid-sized concert venue category -- are decidedly more accessible for local bands, even new ones. Venues such as these tend to host large indie rock music acts or smaller commercial rock music acts and don't usually provide as many amenities as the larger spaces. Unlike some large concert venues, however, mid-sized spaces almost always have a bar (effectively making them 21+) and usually charge far less for admission.

Getting in with the concert promoter at these places is often as easy as an email or phone call. You'll be better off if you've played the smaller venues, but it's completely possible to make some waves at these mid-sized venues even if you haven't. Make friends with other bands in the area, get hip to the local community, and try to persuade those bands to put you on a show with them. The beauty of mid-sized spaces is that these concert promoters often let bands they trust almost completely dictate the bill. And, what's more, you'll make more money here than you would at a large venue due to far fewer topline costs.

Bars and Cafes

Everyone's got to start somewhere, you know, and often the best place to kick off your musical career is at a local bar or cafe. Some of the hippest places in town will convert their business into a concert venue for the express purpose of turning their patrons on to new bands and music styles. The owner or bar manager will double as concert promoter and help you organize a fantastic show, but be forewarned: there's not guarantee that you'll be paid to play these spaces, especially if the concert promoter decides not to charge admission (a good bet for new bands looking for an audience). You will, however, typically get free drinks and be allowed to sell merchandise, and small concert venues like these are invaluable jumping off points for new bands.

Other Areas

Bars, cafes and concert-designated arenas aren't the only places you can play. Some innovative concert promoters have in the past fifteen or so years been turning warehouses, record shops and even houses into concert venues. These places may be more difficult to come by, but they're almost always worth playing. A record shop, for instance, will often stock your CD in advance of your playing there, effectively boosting both sales and promotion. House and warehouse shows operate on donations, of which you'll get most, and many of these places will provide a modest dinner or a place to stay if you're on tour. Concert venues such as these are fantastic opportunities for new bands, especially since many of the spaces have a built-in clientele and tend to trust the concert promoter's decision in choosing new talent.

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