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Gaffer or Gaffa tape (not to be confused with Duct or Duck tape!) is that ultra strong, super adhesive tape that comes on a convenient roll. As every seasoned Live Band Musician and Roadie knows, this guardian angel of the live circuit should not only be the first thing into the gig bag, it should never be without it!

From trying to seal the van door to prevent the band from being poisoned by diesel fumes, to taping the drummer into a shopping cart and then taping the cart to a bus stop (he knows what he did :-), Gaffer Tape is the most versatile tool any live band or musician can have in their toolbox. While it’s uses may be endless, here are five practical reasons why you should not forget the Gaffer:

1 - Tie Down Cables: No matter what the stage set-up, there always seems to be cables to stand on or trip over. Apart from being unsightly and running the risk of being damaged, they are also a huge safety hazard. A few lengths of gaffer tape will hide them all neatly and safely.

2 - Fix a Drumhead: Split or holed drum heads don’t happen very often, so drummers can be forgiven for not having spares at a gig. However, when it does happen and a replacement isn’t an option, some strips of Gaffer Tape can be just the fix to get you through the gig.

3 - Emergency Strap: It shouldn’t, but it does happen; arriving to the gig without a guitar strap. If sitting down during the performance isn’t an option, a few strips of Gaffer Tape stuck back to back can make an ideal temporary replacement.

4 - Mark Your Territory: It’s amazing how effective a piece of tape can be at stopping people from coming onto your stage. Pulled at waist height around all open sides, it creates a seemingly magical barrier that most will not cross, even when you’re not there. If you’ve set-up early and don’t want anyone touching your stuff, just call on the Gaffer!

5 - Drink Holder: As a rule, there should be no drinks around the desk or on top of amps. But when the gig going is good, and the atmosphere ignites, sometimes the rules can get bent a little. To help prevent spills, turn the Gaffer on its side, and put your drink into the hole!

MacGyver may have has his paper-clips, but when it comes to getting Musicians, Live Entertainers, and Bands out of a jam, they have nothing on the Gaffer! With its uses ranging from fixing a brush handle to a chair leg as a mic stand, to repairing cables without a soldering iron, no right-minded performer would leave home without it!

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Choosing the right Live Band used to be potluck. Unless you happened to see them play somewhere, all you had to go on was the Band’s word; the “We’ve been playing for years….We do every type of music….Ask such and such about us…” etc. It can be all very convincing, but without proof they are just empty words.

Live Entertainment is a significant investment, so hiring a band should be no different to taking on any new supplier. Think about it; you wouldn’t take on a new beer brand based solely on the word of their sales rep. You’d expect to see branding, understand the culture of the company, and of course you’d want to taste it! So why would you book a band costing hundreds, based purely on their word?

Just like the beer sales rep, Acts lookinmg for gigs should come armed with more than just words. Here are 5 things to request before booking a band:

1 - First Impressions: When a band calls, ask them to email you. Apart from allowing you to consider it in your own time, the quality of the mail (spelling, punctuation, etc.) can be very telling about a band’s approach and whether it’s “just a pub gig” to them, or something they take a bit more seriously.

2 - Social Media: You know the importance of your social media pages for engaging with and keeping your customers informed. The pages belonging to Live Entertainment Acts are no different. Check that they promote gigs they do in other venues, and that they are engaging with their (and therefore potentially, your) customers.

3 - Videos: Whether shot on an iPhone, or by a professional videographer, a live video tells a lot about an Act and whether they are suitable for your customers or not. It may not be as good as actually seeing them live, but it’s close enough to let you make an informed decision.

4 - Photos: Whether professionally posed photos, or some snaps taken during a gig, photos tell their own story about a Band. They can help reveal the personality of a Live Act; laid back and relaxed, in your face and exciting, or something in between.

5 - Testimonials: There’s no better word than that of people who booked the band previously. Any band worth their salt will have written testimonials from satisfied past bookers. If they are not already on their website or social media page, ask for them.

Make an Informed Decision

Video and other media don’t tell you everything, and ultimately the best way to find out about a Live Band is to see them gig for yourself. But that usually isn’t practical, so at the very least an Act looking for a gig should be able to provide you with some or all of the tools mentioned above. And while they don’t guarantee that you’ll make the right decision, at least it’ll be an informed one!

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Over the Christmas season a lot more people than usual go out. And hosting Live Entertainment helps ensure that it's your door they come in. But with extra customers comes extra risks, especially when the Entertainment gets the party started!

That “Christmassy feeling”, a bigger crowd, a cracking band or DJ — they all conspire to make every night over the holiday season a great one. Whether your customers are young or old, you know that there’s something about this time of year that sees even the quietest among them getting into the party spirit. And as happens when people let their hair down, the risk of an accident goes up. So to ensure none of your nights end with a BANG (and a possible insurance claim!), there are a few simple precautions you can take:

1 - Stage: Having a raised stage, or even a cordoned off area for the band gives them more space to move, helping ensure a better performance, atmosphere, and night for everyone. Keeping a distance between the Live Act and your customers ensures your guests don’t find themselves nose to nose with either the band or the stage equipment.

Act Set-Up: Whether you hire a DJ or a band, it’s important that they have a tidy set-up. This means gear being kept off walkways, cases put away neatly and tidy once unpacked, and all stage & sound equipment properly secured so that it cannot be knocked over.

Extension Leads and Cables: Ideally there should be sufficient sockets available in the area you want the Act to play in. Where this is not possible, ensure any extension leads are safely covered or hung. Keep a roll of heavy duty adhesive “warning tape” in your tool box. Snagging a foot on a wire can be a minor trip at best, but a complete power-cut and/or major accident at worst.

Watch and Listen to the Band: Live Act members often have a better view of what’s going on in your pub than you do. And because they are continually looking at the audience, they see things that you don’t. Keep an eye on the band and look out for warning signals from them.

Offer the Band a Drink: After a gig it is understandable that most Acts just want to pack up their things and go. However, when you have a pub full of customers, breaking down bulky heavy gear and humping it to the van through a throng of customers may not be the safest idea. The band usually finishes close to the end of the night anyway, so consider throwing them up a drink and asking them to hang on for a few minutes until the crowd thins.

Murphy’s Law

Just because you’ve never had an incident, it doesn’t mean you never will! Insurance premiums are already a huge burden, so an increase after a claim pay-out could be the final straw. Don’t take chances and run the risk of falling foul of Murphy’s or Litigation Law because remember: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!”

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The last thing you want before your big day is a broken heart. But if you choose the wrong act or band for your wedding, that’s what you might be in for! This means you have to look beyond the music to other key factors such as professionalism, attitude, and reliability. So, just as you did when choosing your honeymoon destination, you need to do your homework first. Thankfully we’re here to help with a list of 8 essentials for booking the perfect wedding band and entertainment :-).

1. Give Yourself Plenty of Choice: You want to have the biggest choice of bands possible, so get interest from as many of them as you can. A good starting point is friends, colleagues, and other weddings you attend. You could also give up your weekend nights to go traipsing from one live music bar to the next. However, for best results put a post on every Facebook wedding group you’ve joined, and ask Acts to contact you. All you need to do is say what and where it is, and what information you want them to send you. You’ll be amazed at how much interest you get!

2. Get Videos & Photos: The primary reason for requesting videos and photos is to get a feel for what you can expect to see and hear on your big day. Whether for a ceremony or reception, they let you see how well an Act performs and the atmosphere they create.

In addition, the quality of videos and photos you receive, and the effort put into them, can indicate how professional an Act sees themselves as being. Poor quality media, or none at all, could be an indicator that an Act doesn’t take wedding bookings that seriously.

3. Request a Sample Song-list: While a video will show you how a band sounds and looks, it doesn’t tell you what songs they play. So request a list of songs you can expect to hear on the night. It doesn’t have to be an exact set-list, but it should contain at least 40 songs that give a good overall idea of what you can expect to hear.

Apart from the songs themselves, other things to look out for include presentation: is it divided by genres and/or years, is it riddled with spelling mistakes, etc.? Although only minor, a lack of care with something as basic as a song-list, could suggest a lack of care elsewhere.

4. Act Biography: How long an Act has been performing, where they’ve performed, and who’s booked them in the past, can be a real window into an Act’s suitability and reliability. A biography will tell you all of this and more. Look for the names of well known companies, personalities, and venues that they have played in or for. In the case of venues mentioned, check their Facebook pages to see whether the Act are regulars there or not.

5. Act FAQ’s: One of the most frustrating and time consuming elements of booking your band, and the one that can really break your heart, is the backwards and forwards trying to get answers to questions. A good Act will be able to pre-empt these questions in advance and provide you with a set of frequently asked questions and answers.

6. Good Communication: For your own convenience, ask everyone to contact you using the same method; either email or messenger. Not only does it keep all communications together in one place, it also means you have a record of everything discussed. Should any confusion arise in the future, it’s easy to check back and see what was agreed.

Using messenger or email is also another measurement of professionalism and attitude. Things to look out for include: taking longer than 24 hours to respond, basic errors like spelling mistakes, and whether they send you direct links and attachments or whether they expect you to go looking for things yourself.

7. Fee: Never disclose your budget, no matter how pushy an Act is. Think about it: you don’t go into a shop and tell the owner how much you’re prepared to pay for something. They know the value of what they’re selling and price it accordingly. The same goes for Acts, so let them tell you what they charge!

8. Simple Sorting: So you followed all the instructions above, and now find yourself with so many responses that you’re starting to get a little overwhelmed. Luckily sorting through them is quick and easy. Start with price, if they’re out of your budget then put them in the “Rejected” pile. Then look at what’s being offered in terms of music and atmosphere. If it doesn’t float your boat, swipe left.

At this point you’ll be left with a selection of Acts that are all suitable for your big day. You just need to figure out which one is the most suitable. This is where keeping an eye on quality and presentation comes into play. Remember, not only do you want a band that will be brilliant on the day, you want a band that will be brilliant to work with in the weeks and months before it. So, weed out those acts that show a consistent lack of care and attention to their Biog, FAQ’s, Song-List, Emails, etc. until you’re left with the one that you are sure will give you the care and attention your day deserves!


There you have it, 8 absolute essentials for finding the perfect soundtrack to your perfect day. If you follow these steps, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how easy getting the right Acts for your wedding is. However, you could make it even easier on yourself by going to www.GizaGig.com. Not only will you find all the bands you want, along with all of their essential info, you’ll be able to book them instantly too :-)

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Everything is organised and the hard work is done. Now all you have to do now is sit back with a glass of prosecco, admire your work, and wait for the big day to arrive. While you’re sitting there however, you may as well send a few emails to your suppliers, just to reconfirm everything that you haven’t already.

This is particularly important for your wedding music and entertainment. With everything else you organised, you were given an official “booking confirmation” outlining all of the essential details. With the band and other musicians, you most likely you have a string of emails and a few notes on Post-its! Regardless of whether it is the church music, wedding band, or the DJ, a couple of weeks before the big day, send them a final confirmation email confirming all of the finer details. The 5 last-minute essentials to check with each are:

1. The Times: Nothing will make you more anxious than watching the clock. Ensure calm nerves in advance by knowing when everything is due to happen.

- Arrival Time
- Start Time
- Break time (if applicable)
- Finish time

2. The Music: From the soundtrack for your walk up the aisle, to whether uncle Harry can get up and do his Joe Dolan number, these are some of the special moments that make your day perfect. So, it’s no harm to reconfirm:

- All song requests for the ceremony and reception
- Whether your first dance song will be played live by the band or digitally. If it’s the latter, confirm what device will be used and who is responsible for ensuring it goes off without a hitch
- Any songs you’ve vetoed and definitely do not want played
- Whether Uncle Harry, or anyone else for that matter, is allowed up to sing

3. The Money: It’s an area that many of us shy away from, but one that can cause unnecessary tension. Avoid it by double checking all the details in advance:

- How much is due to the Act
- How it will be paid
- Whom will be paying it. If it’s on the day, state whom is looking after it and what their role is - best man, bridesmaid, etc.
- When it will be paid, before or after the performance, or in advance of the day

4. The Communications: Between the Child of Prague on the lawn and all the good luck wishes, nothing could possibly go wrong! Could it? Well just in case, it’s better to make sure everyone can contact each other. So:
- Have at least one mobile number for the Act, but two is much safer

- Provide them with at least one contact name and mobile number for a wedding party member who can deal with any problems. Again, two numbers are safer
- Tell the band or musicians who the venue contact is, and if possible provide a contact number for them. If the ceremony is in a church, it will most likely be the priest, and if in a hotel or other venue, it’ll be the wedding co-ordinator

The Rest: There are lots of little things that you just don’t think of until they happen and cause a problem! Here are a few pitfalls to avoid:

- Remind them of the bride and grooms’ names. It may seem obvious, but better to be safe than sorry!
- Confirm whether or not they intend to erect their advertising banners on stage, and whether or not you’ll let them
- Lots of venues have lots of rooms. Stop your wedding band from getting lost by telling them which one your ceremony, pre-reception, reception, afters, is taking place in

Finally, ask the Acts to respond to the email confirming all is OK. And make sure it is an email or on Messenger. Just as you should have been doing all along, having everything written down will vital in the unlikely event of a dispute later on.

So that’s it. You really can now sit back, enjoy a glass of bubbly, and rest in the knowledge that your day will be perfect. In fact, you’re feeling so smug and happy with yourself, you might have two!

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This week marks the 9th annual “National Fish & Chips” day by the Irish Traditional Italian Chipper Association. As cover bands, we’ve a lot in common with our local chipper; we’ve both been an important part of society for a long time, we both work late hours, and we both need good personal interaction to succeed.

But over their near 130 years, ITICA members have picked up a few traits that cover bands can sometimes lack. Here are 5 things us musicians can learn from our Italian cousins:

1 - A Little Extra is OK: If you’ve ever ordered just a fish, you’ll know there’s nearly always a few chips thrown in the bottom of the bag. It’s a nice touch, doesn’t come at any great cost to them, and generates goodwill. Playing a few extra minutes at the end of a gig sometimes is the same thing. If playing a few extra songs without being asked will make the crowd and whomever booked you happier, why kill a good thing on principle?!

2 - Give the People What They Want: Italians come from a long proud tradition of excellent gourmet food, òf which you can be sure curry chips and deep fried spice burgers are not traditionally a part. But you don’t see your local chipper belittling someone when they request them! A chipper’s deep fried menu, is our “Galway Girl”, “Wagon Wheel”, and “Sweet Home Alabama”. While we may not get any great pleasure in playing them, they’re old reliables that people love and want to hear.

3 - Consistent: We never dwell on the fact that our local chipper opens when they say they will, that the food quality doesn’t vary, or that it’s always the same faces serving us. That’s because they’re a business and we expect this level of consistency. As live bands, we should be consistent too; turn up on time; perform every gig to the same high standard; use the same regular musicians.

4 - Have Pride & Passion: I’ve never seen a chipper owner raise their eyes when someone orders just a single of chips. Whether it’s one sausage, or a family dinner, all orders and dishes are treated with the same pride. Gigs are no different. If you accept money to perform, then it should always be to the best of your abilities. The term “It’s only a pub gig!” should be banned from cover musician’s vocabularies!

5 - You’re Family: As a band you may fight, argue, and disagree. But at the back of it all you’re still a family, and as any Italian will tell you; families pull together when it counts.

Get Your Cod & Chips in!

So if you’re out and about this Wednesday and fancy a bite to eat, pop into your local Italian chipper. You might pick up more than just a cod & chips :-)!

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Who should pay for our water has undoubtedly been one of the most hotly debated topics of our time. But for many musicians, it pales into insignificance in terms of the longevity, divisiveness, and fallings-out that have accompanied that exclusively music subject; Backing Tracks!

But are they as bad as some of our colleagues would espouse? Undoubtedly, some of the cheaper or free backing tracks available should be banned under the UN Convention for Human Rights due to their torturous tones. Others however, are note perfect, and when accompanied by a live instrument and/or the right vocals, they can be amazing. Here are five reasons we think live Acts should consider (good quality!) backing tracks, especially if you’re a one, two, or three piece:

1 - You Sound Professional: As a general rule, punters listening to a covers Act want them as close to the real thing as possible. Backing tracks allow you to do that by filling in the instrumentation you cannot play yourself.

2 - Instant Sound Check: Even the greatest detractors have to admit that when it comes to sound checking, tracks win hands down. For most, plugging in a machine with the instruments professionally mixed, beats the hell out of twisting knobs for an hour in the hope of getting a reasonable sound.

3 - Never Need a Dep: Backing tracks don’t get sick, don’t take holidays, and won’t take a higher paying gig than the one you’re offering. They’re loyal, reliable, and never need to be dep’d.

4 - Makes Learning New Songs Easy: Unlike playing a song completely live, where every note and section has to be learned, backing tracks mean you only need to learn the lyrics and essential music parts. Simple!

5 - Less Hassle: No matter where the gigs is, what time it’s at, or who it’s for, your tracks will never whinge to you. They’ll never argue over what songs to include in a set, or demand more money on specific nights of the year. All in all, tracks are no hassle!

As with all technologies, backing tracks are not for everyone. Even some pubs and Bookers loathe the thought of them, making sure to only book Acts that play 100% live. And that’s their choice. But it doesn’t mean that tracks don’t have their place, just ask any of the 1000’s of solos, duos, and even 4 and 5 piece bands, that use them!

5 Plec Alternatives

15/05/2018
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It shouldn’t happen but it does: arriving to the gig and discovering you’ve no plecs. Luckily there’s no need to panic because there are no shortage of readily available of alternatives. Here we look at the pros and cons of 5 readily available options:

Credit Card: Probably the “go to” replacement for the majority of musicians, the credit card is very much the old reliable. And rightly so, it ticks a lot of the boxes! They are stiff, a good size, easy to cut into shape, and reasonably durable. However, they will damped the string sound as they wear down, AND you need to get a replacement card!

Disposable Coffee Cup Lid: Is there a band wagon that doesn’t have a pile of petrol station coffee cups under the driver’s seat? Unlikely. And it’s just as well because in your greatest hour of need they could be a saviour! They are large in size, durable, and easy to cut into your desired shape. However, they may be too light for many players.

Bottle Top or Ring Pull: Although they’re the one alternative that every venue is guaranteed to have, it may best be considered as a last resort. They are stiff, a decent size, and very durable. But...the sound they produce is very different to a plastic plec, metal on metal may result in a lot of broken strings, and there is a very high likelihood of razor sharp edges forming.

Beermats: Just like the bottle top, you’re nearly guaranteed to find beer mats in every venue. However, they also come with some significant cons. Although they are stiff, a decent size, and easy to shape, they’re unlikely to last more than a song. On top of that, if you’re a sweaty player, you can expect to end up with a piece of papier maché between your finger and thumb!

Your Fingers: Using your digits may seem like the most obvious choice. After all, they’re readily available! In reality however, for most people they should be the last option. Apart from being virtually impossible to use to play lead if you’re not used to it, and the fact that the strumming sound is much less clear, they come with a serious health risk; blisters, lesions, and sliced open finger nails can be nearly guaranteed!

The truth is when it comes to needing a plec, nothing beats the original. However, using one or more alternatives will ensure you get through the gig...hopefully without injury :-)

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From Shanghai to Sydney, and LA to London, every year March 17th sees world-famous landmarks across the globe turned green in a nod to our little isle. It gives anyone with even a strand of Paddy DNA, a huge sense of pride because for just one day in the year it’s all about us!

Unless you’re a musician in Ireland that is… St. Patrick’s Day may be one of the busiest in the calendar for live bands, and one of the most lucrative, but it is also probably the messiest. All those gigs and pockets full of green come at a price, particularly to your sanity. To help, we’ve compiled 5 tips to help you and your band get through the day as unscathed as possible:

1 - Stock Up: With Paddy’s Day being one of the busiest of the year for musicians, you’ll have no time between gigs for mundane stuff like eating or resting. Load the gig bag with plenty of Red Bull, Mars Bars and Strepsils! By night’s end you might be looking and sounding like Dot Cotton, but at least you’ll have gotten there.

2 - Pack Your Entire Wardrobe: There’s a joke about an American who’s visiting Ireland and wondering what clothes he should bring. The answer? All of them! As a musician heading out on the road for Paddy’s Day you should be thinking along the same lines. March 17th sees more drinks spilled than the other 364 days combined, with the majority of it on the band! Unless you want to spend the day walking and smelling like some of your audience, bring plenty of clothes.

3 - Be Askhole Ready: The spike in “Askholedness” that occurs on St. Patrick’s Day comes as a double blow for musicians; not only do they come out in larger numbers, they come out for longer too! They will be at your gig. They will make your blood boil. And they will NEVER understand the word “No”. They are a part of being a pub cover band, and there is nothing you can do to stop them. However, that’s not to say you have to roll over and take it unanswered. On the contrary, having an arsenal of GFY responses is a great way to get some personal gratification!

4 - Be MORE Irish: Paddy’s Day brings with it many unusual phenomena, including the annual drunken, “I’m more Oirish than you” conversation. It always starts with one person calling out another one because they have done something they perceive as non-Irish. As the band you want to proclaim your Irishness from the get-go:
- When singing ballads, use only Luke Kelly or Ronnie Drew accents and voices
- Don’t risk drinking anything other than stout
- Finish with the National Anthem, even if it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon

5 - Leave the Country: St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland can be pretty full on for musicians and bands. If it’s too much and you feel like boarding yourself up at home, there is another option; go abroad and bring your guitar with you. You’ll find Paddy’s Day celebrations pretty much anywhere, and most of them are a lot more civilised than what you might get if you stay at home.

Sin é :-)

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As we know from W.B. Yeats, there’s nothing worse than unrequited love or a broken heart. With some cover bands likely to be playing to such an audience on the night, we’ve decided this year to suggest some anti-Valentine songs to include in your set. Here are 5 tear jerker (or blood boiling!) suggestions for you:

1 - “November Rain” - Guns n’ Roses: Despite their tough exteriors, 80’s and 90’s rock bands were big softies deep down. And none more so than Mr. Rose and Co. It’s just as well, otherwise we wouldn’t have classics like November Rain - a guaranteed crowd pleaser!
- https://youtu.be/8SbUC-UaAxE

2 - “A New England” - Kirsty MacColl: While too much outside influence tends to make a good relationship fail, in the case of Billy Bragg’s classic, it was essential for success; The opening line is courtesy of Simon & Garfunkel, the melody is Thin Lizzy’s, part of the intro isn’t unlike Pink Floyd, and Kirsty MacColl even asked Bragg to write two additional verses before she’d release it. No wonder it’s such an iconic song!
- https://youtu.be/Vnzpg5GgQCo

3 - “Catch the Wind” - Donovan: One of those classics that works for several reasons; Whether it’s the nostalgia of Kevin and Winnie, that unmistakable 60’s sound and sense of innocence, or just the fact that it’s a beautiful song, it’s perfect for a Valentine’s night set.
- https://youtu.be/J8hjEYTpwE8

4 - “Without You” - Harry Nilson: Despite being about unrequited love, Nilsson’s “Without You” is undoubtedly one of the great love songs ever. A fantastic cover….if you can pull off those skyward notes!
- https://youtu.be/8dnUv3DUP4E

5 - “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” - Nelson: And last but not least, something to give broken hearts a little lift. Granted you need to see the video in order for that to happen, but it’s well worth it; flowing blonde locks, impeccable late 80’s high pitched male harmonies, early 90’s artistic video, and knee-high red leather boots!
- https://youtu.be/x1W6-ErrHls


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- Some guy: Will you play XYZ?
- You: No sorry, we don’t know that one.
- Some guy: Yeah you do. Go on, play it.
- You: Honestly, we don’t know it.
- Some guy: Of course you do, everyone knows it. What do you call them sings it, you know the band. It starts with em, ah, ach you know the one! Just sing it. Pleeeeeeease!

As a live cover band or gigging musician, you’ll know this conversation all too well. You’ll also know the several others that compliment it; the guy who insists on to talking to you mid-song; the “amazing” singer who just has to get up; or the girl who won’t accept that the gig is over. These people who cannot comprehend what “no” means, are “Askholes”. And they are the bain of every cover band or musician’s life. Here are 5 Askhole traits to be aware of:

1 - Brain Deficiency: Askholedness doesn’t differentiate based on education, wealth or demographic. All of those afflicted have a small, but significant deficiency in their brains; the inability to understand very basic statements such as
- “We don’t know that one”
- “Can you not see I’m in the middle of a song?!”
- “The gig is over”
- “No”

2 - Their Population Fluctuates: One of the problems with Askholes, is that their population fluctuates, and there is no way of knowing what nights they will appear or how many there will be. However, there is usually a direct correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed, and how good the craic is. With this in mind, you can make some predictions based on whether the gig is taking place on a big night like St. Patrick’s Day or not. As a rule, the bigger the night, the more Askholes there’ll be.

3 - They’re Easy to Spot: Luckily most Askholes are relatively easy to spot. On approach they will usually have a wobbly smile, wobbly legs, and wobbly speech. You are also likely to see them making a beeline for the stage mid-song. All band members should be versed in how to deal with them, with each having their GFY responses at the ready.

4 - Can Be Aggressive: As with all afflictions, some people are affected worse than others. Those suffering from the most severe cases of Askholedness can very quickly go from a cute pleading smile, to a torrent of hate filled abuse. These are the ones you really need to watch, and the ones you should least tolerate. The best way to deal with them is to form a good relationship with the pub’s doorman.

5 - They’re Assholes: Let’s face it, if someone can’t take “No” for an answer and insists on hassling you long after they’ve been asked to stop, they’re not an Askhole, they’re an Asshole!

Fact of Life
As musicians, the best thing we can do is accept that Askholes are a part of what we do, just like whingy diners are part of a restaurant. They are a fact of life for live cover bands in bars and pubs, have always been there, and they always will be. No matter how witty, frustrated, or threatening your responses to them are, you won’t change them because most don’t realise they are being annoying. In the overall scheme of a gig, they occupy a tiny part of it, so any annoyance you feel towards them, should be just as small!

As entertainers we’ll be bringing plenty of festive cheer to pubs and parties across the country. That means throwing a few holiday songs into the set to get audiences in the mood. The much loved standards and classics, like “Fairytale of New York” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” will get many a rendition. But there are plenty of other Christmas themed tunes that lend themselves to a party or singsong. Here are 5 lesser known festive songs worth considering:

1 - “Must Be Santa” - Bob Dylan: Mr. Zimmerman has credited the Clancy’s and other Irish Folk artists as being major influences on his career. He must have heard them play “The Ratlan Bog” at some point and taken inspiration for this one. Great craic for a singalong. The video is fun too!
- https://youtu.be/a8qE6WQmNus

2 - “The Night Santa Went Crazy” - “Weird Al” Yankovic: Christmas songs don’t get much funnier than this. Who’d have guessed Santa had such a dark side?!
- https://youtu.be/HTGlUMvbhSw

3 - “White Wine in the Sun” - Tim Minchin: This song has everything; a beautiful melody and chords, touching and heart-warming lyrics, and just enough wit and comedy to take the edge off it!
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvZqpa-7Q

4 - “How to Make Gravy” - Paul Kelly: No one said Christmas songs had to be jolly, and Joe’s story certainly isn’t. But it’s touching and sentimental all the same, and a perfect ballad for that late-in-the-evening session!
- https://youtu.be/fh79619xxk8

5 - “Goin’ Back” - Dusty Springfield: Anyone old enough to remember the 80’s ESB ad can’t help but feel nostalgic upon hearing this one. Written by Carole King, it’s a goldie that’s not just for the oldies!
- https://youtu.be/pN9_WwkKARY


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The set-up and sound check. Long the bane of brides and publicans alike, it has been known to drive even the staunchest non-smoker into the puffing area for a bit of peace. Between the noise, the mess, and the coming and goings of the band, setting up for a live gig can flatten the most upbeat of party atmospheres. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil and just a part of being a live Act. However, with a bit of smarts, the process can become a super speedy affair.

This was exactly what I witnessed at a recent covers gig. I can only describe it as the most amazingly efficient set-up and sound check I have ever witnessed; a 5-piece band, set-up, sound checked, and started within about 10 minutes of the first piece of gear going onto the stage! So how did they do it?

1 - Lie of the Land: Before bringing anything in, the band checked out not just where the stage was and how they would get the gear to it, but what the layout of it was. Then starting with multi-socket extension leads and a multi-core, the gear was loaded in, in the order in which it would go onto the stage, with each piece going onto it’s final position immediately.

2 - Prepped Outside: Each piece of equipment was prepped outside; removed from its case (which went straight back into the van), cables inserted, and tones and volume set. As soon as it was plugged in, it was ready to go. Traditionally one of the slowest instruments to set up, the drums were on a folding rack and pre-mic'd.

3 - Breaking Through the Crowd: Although the stage was reasonably close to the loading door, the venue was packed, so they still had 6 or 7 rows of people to get through. Rather than trying individually push their way through, they came through 3 or 4 guys at a time in a row. The person in front didn’t carrying anything, instead he cleared the way for the rest, thus making it faster and reducing the risk of injury to either the audience or the guys in the band.

4 - Working as a Team: As soon as the gear was in place, each band member went about connecting up the remaining cables and plugs. It was obvious that they had a system for this and practiced it before. Working as a team, each person knew exactly what they had to do, and in what sequence.

5 - Pre-Sound-Sound-Check: Most impressive, was their being able to just walk on stage and start! No “1,2! 1, 2!”, banging of drums, or tuning up guitars. The front man simply introduced them, the drummer started, and bang, they were all in and the place was rocking. How they were able to do this, was by having default settings on all equipment that would allow them to start any gig, and have an acceptable sound. The first song or two is then used to make tweaks and changes until the sound is perfect.

Obviously every band and every gig is different. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fast and unobtrusive set-up and sound check. Just like putting a professional sounding set together, getting from the van to the point of playing also takes planning and practice.

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Gaffer or Gaffa tape (not to be confused with Duct or Duck tape!) is that ultra strong, super adhesive tape that comes on a convenient roll. As every seasoned Live Band Musician and Roadie knows, this guardian angel of the live circuit should not only be the first thing into the gig bag, it should never be without it!

From trying to seal the van door to prevent the band from being poisoned by diesel fumes, to taping the drummer into a shopping cart and then taping the cart to a bus stop (he knows what he did :-), Gaffer Tape is the most versatile tool any live band or musician can have in their toolbox. While it’s uses may be endless, here are five practical reasons why you should not forget the Gaffer:

1 - Tie Down Cables: No matter what the stage set-up, there always seems to be cables to stand on or trip over. Apart from being unsightly and running the risk of being damaged, they are also a huge safety hazard. A few lengths of gaffer tape will hide them all neatly and safely.

2 - Fix a Drumhead: Split or holed drum heads don’t happen very often, so drummers can be forgiven for not having spares at a gig. However, when it does happen and a replacement isn’t an option, some strips of Gaffer Tape can be just the fix to get you through the gig.

3 - Emergency Strap: It shouldn’t, but it does happen; arriving to the gig without a guitar strap. If sitting down during the performance isn’t an option, a few strips of Gaffer Tape stuck back to back can make an ideal temporary replacement.

4 - Mark Your Territory: It’s amazing how effective a piece of tape can be at stopping people from coming onto your stage. Pulled at waist height around all open sides, it creates a seemingly magical barrier that most will not cross, even when you’re not there. If you’ve set-up early and don’t want anyone touching your stuff, just call on the Gaffer!

5 - Drink Holder: As a rule, there should be no drinks around the desk or on top of amps. But when the gig going is good, and the atmosphere ignites, sometimes the rules can get bent a little. To help prevent spills, turn the Gaffer on its side, and put your drink into the hole!

MacGyver may have has his paper-clips, but when it comes to getting Musicians, Live Entertainers, and Bands out of a jam, they have nothing on the Gaffer! With its uses ranging from fixing a brush handle to a chair leg as a mic stand, to repairing cables without a soldering iron, no right-minded performer would leave home without it!

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The Christmas season not only sees a spike in the number of gigs bands play, it also sees an increase in the quality of those gigs. Because audiences feel more relaxed and just want to have fun, they get to their feet or start singing earlier than at any other time of year, and they do so with a gusto seemingly reserved for the holiday season.

But with the plethora of great gigs, comes greater risk to the Act and those around them. Here are five tips to help keep you, your colleagues, and those you’re entertaining a little bit safer:

1 - Leave Early for the Gig: Most people may be on holidays, but over Christmas the roads are as busy as ever, and the pubs are even busier. To avoid potential problems, give yourself at least an extra half hour to get to the gig. Not only will you arrive more relaxed, you’ll also be able to get the gear unloaded and inside before the masses arrive and you have to dangerously battle your way through the throng.

2 - Be Tidy & Secure: Pubs and venues tend to be busier over Christmas. But not only that, audiences are in better form and more prone to throw caution to the wind and become more excitable. Ensure their (and the band’s) safety by keeping the set-up fast and tidy, making sure all cables on floor level are stuck down with gaffa tape, and that all speakers and equipment is secure and cannot fall on anyone.

3 - Control the Gig: With most venues being packed, and most audiences being up for it, gigs at Christmas can quickly get out of control. It doesn’t take much for a few people jumping around to turn into a full scale mosh (or worse still, a row). As a band, this interaction with your performance is great for the ego, and it’s easy to say it’s “Not my problem”. But it is your problem! You have a moral responsibility to help ensure the safety of the people you are entertaining, and a professional duty to do what is the best interest of whomever booked you. Part of that duty means not putting their customers or guests in danger.

4 - Don’t do Too Much: With so many gigs around in such a short space of time, it can be tempting to grab as many as you can. But apart from burning yourself out performance-wise, overdoing it can lead to tiredness, frustration, and stress, all of which can lead to accidents. None of us are robots, know your limits and stick to them.

5 - Say “No Thanks”: What is it about Christmas that brings out the generosity in people? In a single gig, you’ll be offered more drinks than January to November combined. With spirits high, and the craic flowing it can be hard to say “no” to this generosity. However, if you’re getting behind the wheel after the gig, that’s exactly what you have to say! YOu may be invincible on stage, but you’re not on the open road!

Undoubtedly Christmas is the best time of year for live Acts. There are lots of gigs, more money, and a general air of happiness and contentment. Don’t ruin it for you or anyone else, by letting a momentary lapse of common sense result in an accident.

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Most cover bands and musicians will at one stage or another be asked to perform a charity gig. Although they range in size from large corporate events, to a fundraiser gig in the local bar, one thing is constant; Acts are often asked to play for free. This puts many bands and performers in an awkward position because it can be difficult to say “no” to a charity. So what’s the answer, should musicians play charity gigs for free? As a general rule it has to be “no”. But on occasion it’s definitely “Yes”.

The reason I say “No”, is because we are professionals and our services have to come at a cost. So just like the CEO of the charity, it’s admin staff, the venue owners, the venue staff, and the host of other people involved in an event, we need to be paid for our time. This may sound callus when faced with a request to help raise money for a very worthy cause, but that is not the case. As performers we are running businesses, so we need to be objective because we simply can't afford to do gigs for free.

But…

Understandably, you may not think this way when the person asking you to do the gig is local, has been directly affected by the charity, and who themselves are giving up huge amounts of their time to do the right thing. So what should you do?

Charity is a very personal and private thing, and you shouldn’t allow yourself to feel pressured into doing a gig for free. If you’re not comfortable with it, just say “No sorry, I’m already booked”. Alternatively, state what your standard fee is an offer a discounted rate. The size of the discount will depend on a lot of things (who’s asking, what’s it for, etc.), but at the very least, ensure your costs are covered.

So when is it definitely “Yes”?

When it feels right! If the cause you are being asked to help fund raise for is something you feel strongly about, and you want to help make a difference, then say “YES, YES, YES”. But there are other times when it can feel “right” too; when there is a genuine exposure opportunity and future potential. But that conversation is for another day...

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Should your cover band offer a discount to get pub and venue gigs? Absolutely!

Done properly, offering a discount is a great way of securing gigs long-term. If you’re unsure as to whether you should, here are five things to consider when thinking about it:

You’re an Unknown: If you’re not known, your name won’t mean anything to the people you want to book you. Offering a discount on early gigs offers Pubs more value, and an incentive to book you because the perceived risk is lower.

It Builds Trust: Any time a Publican books on a new Act they are taking a financial risk. If their customers don’t like the choice they’ll leave and go elsewhere, but the band’s fee still has to be paid! Offering a discount tells the Publican that you understand this and want to share the risk so that you can prove yourself. It helps build trust.

It Opens the Door: Repeat gigs are essential for professional cover bands and musicians. This can’t happen without the Act getting in the door in the first place so that they can develop a relationship with the Publican. Offering a discount for the first one or two gigs can open that door. Taking a short term hit, can lead to long term gains.

Sometimes it Boils Down to Price: For the majority of Pubs, the decision to book a Band is based on the quality and value an Act provides. However, although it happens much less than you might think, from time to time booking decisions do boil down to price. Getting your timing right and offering a discount at the opportune time, may just get you the Gig!

Good Business Sense: As mentioned earlier, repeat gigs are essential to the survival of any cover band or musician. So you need to keep onside with the bars that book you already. If this means giving a discount the odd time when asked, go for it because it’ll stand to you in the long run.

Be Warned!

Discounting will help secure bookings, no doubt. Done properly and strategically it can have a very positive effect on your fortunes as a band. However, discounting does come with a serious health warning: Discount too regularly to new bars and you’ll become known for it. Discount too regularly to your existing pubs and they’ll come to expect it.

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Sometimes pubs and other venues that play live music will ask you for a discount. It can be a great way to get your foot in the door, or help you fill your online calendar. However, you need to be careful that you’re not giving away money for nothing.

As musicians and entertainers, what we do and the services we provide have a significant value. The exact value depends on how good you are and how well you promote yourself, amongst other things. The more you perform, the more you will find your niche and determine your “going rate”. However, sometimes it may be tempting, or even necessary, to accept a discounted rate. Here are five things to consider before you do:

1 - Is there a Long Term Benefit? When you give a discount, you’re taking money straight out of your wallet. So you need to ask yourself; is there a long term benefit to doing it, such as plenty more repeat gigs?

2 - Are They Just Chancing Their Arm? Everyone loves getting a discount. Sometimes you need it, and other times you’ll just chance your arm. Publicans are no different. You have to decide whether you need to drop your price to get the gig, or whether they’re playing Dell Boy with you.

3 - Are you a Busy Fool? It’s great to have a full calendar, and regularly giving discounts can help ensure that. But being busy gigging for less than you’re worth is selling yourself short. If your discount is anyway significant, you are better off sticking to your rates, and doing less gigs for the same money.

4 - Is the Gig Worth it? Every Gig you do has monetary costs associated with it. In addition to travel and other expenses, your time and abilities have a value. Even if you’re someone who loves gigging for the sake of it, you have to ask yourself; are my time and talents being taken advantage of?

5 - You’re Setting a Precedent Once you give someone a discount, they know they can get it again. If you get a name for being cheap, then that’s how people will view you, and your fees and the respect you get, will reflect that!

Discounts are not a bad thing. Used properly they can be very effective. But used incorrectly, they can damage your Act’s prospects, and those of your peers too!

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If you’re a cover band or live musician, promotional videos are essential. They give an allround feel for who you are and what you do, helping to build trust between you and potential bookers. The more interesting and engaging videos you publish, the more likely you are to get the right kind of gigs. And the more varied those videos are, the better someone can get to know you. Here are 5 Promotional Video Type suggestions for Your Band:

1 - The Promo: If your band only has one video, it should be this! A “promo” is usually a short presentation of between 30 seconds and 3 minutes, showing your band in the best light. It should contain live performance footage, and be aimed at a specific target audience.

2 - The Craic: Videos don’t necessarily have to be serious. An off the cuff recording of a funny moment on the way to a gig or at rehearsal, is a great way of showing the band’s human side. They’re also great for looking back on later!

3 - The Blog Song: As a cover band or live musician, you’re learning and rehearsing songs on a weekly basis. Pick one every week and film it live. It doesn’t require any high quality production or lighting. Just prop up your phone, get a reasonable picture and decent sound, and away you go. Your rehearsal room or sofa is perfect, but for added atmosphere, do it somewhere interesting like in a cafe or bus.

4 - Stream Live: Stream one song during every gig. Apart from allowing potential bookers to engage with you in real time, you’ll also end up with a great timeline of performances.

5 - The Interview: Websites and social media have taken a lot of the personal contact out of making an initial connection with potential bookers. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a human element however. Make a video of your Act just talking in an interview situation. Use it as a chance to allow people to see the real you outside of the music and performance..

Have Fun

Making videos isn’t just about getting more gigs. They are about having fun with your mates and expressing yourself. Be creative, be adventurous, and above all enjoy it.

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If you’re a cover band or live musician, promotional videos are essential. They give an allround feel for who you are and what you do, helping to build trust between you and potential bookers. The more interesting and engaging videos you publish, the more likely you are to get the right kind of gigs. And the more varied those videos are, the better someone can get to know you. Here are 5 Promotional Video Type suggestions for Your Band:

1 - The Promo: If your band only has one video, it should be this! A “promo” is usually a short presentation of between 30 seconds and 3 minutes, showing your band in the best light. It should contain live performance footage, and be aimed at a specific target audience.

2 - The Craic: Videos don’t necessarily have to be serious. An off the cuff recording of a funny moment on the way to a gig or at rehearsal, is a great way of showing the band’s human side. They’re also great for looking back on later!

3 - The Blog Song: As a cover band or live musician, you’re learning and rehearsing songs on a weekly basis. Pick one every week and film it live. It doesn’t require any high quality production or lighting. Just prop up your phone, get a reasonable picture and decent sound, and away you go. Your rehearsal room or sofa is perfect, but for added atmosphere, do it somewhere interesting like in a cafe or bus.

4 - Stream Live: Stream one song during every gig. Apart from allowing potential bookers to engage with you in real time, you’ll also end up with a great timeline of performances.

5 - The Interview: Websites and social media have taken a lot of the personal contact out of making an initial connection with potential bookers. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a human element however. Make a video of your Act just talking in an interview situation. Use it as a chance to allow people to see the real you outside of the music and performance..

Have Fun

Making videos isn’t just about getting more gigs. They are about having fun with your mates and expressing yourself. Be creative, be adventurous, and above all enjoy it.

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Do you remember your first few cover band gigs? You planned everything down to the most minute detail; the setlist was rehearsed and rewritten again and again, and you endlessly discussed how you’d get to the venue, what you’d wear, and who’d stand where. You did all of this planning because you wanted to be the best you could be (and not embarrass yourselves of course)! The same principle applies to shooting and creating a high quality promo video for your band. Getting from deciding to make a video to actually having one, requires time and a series of steps. The first of those steps is “Planning”, and here are 5 helpful tips to get you started:

1 - Who’s it for?: The answer to this might seem simple: it’s for the people who are going to book us. But you need to be very clear as to who you want those people to be. Remember; you can’t be all things to all people, so it’s advisable to choose a specific target audience. Whether it’s country pubs, 5-Star weddings or corporate media gigs, pick the market you want most and tailor your video specifically to it.

2 - Identify the Look & Feel: The starting point for this is thinking about your cover band’s “performance style” and how you want to be perceived. Whether you’re a high energy party band that gets into its audiences faces, or an easy going ensemble that prefers to let the music do the talking, your video needs to reflect it. Once established, think about how best to capture it using different camera angles, lens filters, and post-production fx.

3 - What are You Filming?: Be selective of the gig you choose to film as it should resonate with your target audience. It must also perfectly capture you performance style, while lending itself to being properly shot. Several things to consider:
- Are there any safety issues?
- Is there sufficient space for filming?
- How is the stage area lit?
- If taking a live sound feed, what are the acoustics of the room like?
- Will the person who booked you mind?

4 - Storyboard: Rather than filming the entire gig in the hope of getting sufficient quality footage, choose a smaller set of 3 to 5 songs. Create a storyboard as to how you want the video to flow. Then semi-choreograph each member and sequence in advance, and rehearse it. This will help put those band members who are lense shy at ease, and make the overall video look more fluid.

5 - Take it Seriously: Creating a decent live band video takes time, dedication, and organisation. Even if it’s your friends and their smartphones recording the footage, make sure they, and everyone in the band, treat it as a professional shoot. From setting up to editing, decide in advance who is doing what and when. Consider electing one person as director, and making them responsible for ensuring things run smoothly.

Having a live band video is not just about getting gigs, it’s about getting the kind of gigs you want. For most cover bands, that equates to higher quality, higher paying bookings. A live video is a great help in breaking into those markets, but you only get out what you’re prepared to put into it. So get your creative thinking cap on and start blocking off time in your calendar!

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The days of pubs and brides booking a live band purely on their sales spiel is fast disappearing. Bookers have become much more discerning and want to know what they’re getting in advance. Video is a vital element of this, so if you’re serious about getting gigs, you need to be serious about having videos. Ideally you should be hiring a professional, but if that’s not possible, there is still plenty you can do yourself.

Whether using your mobile, a DLR, or a proper hand held, you have the ability to create a professional looking video for your band. Here are 5 tips to help you do that:

1 - Plan Ahead: The key to a successful video is planning. Figure out in advance what you want the video to look like and say about your band. Remember, this is a promotional tool, so put yourself in the shoes of your ideal booker and think about what would impress you. If you’re unsure, have a look at other band’s videos and see what they do that you like (and don’t like). Then select the part of the gig you plan to film and plan it accordingly by setting out a storyboard.

2 - Multi-Camera: Trying to cobble together a professional looking video from footage shot on a single camera can be time consuming and difficult. Have at least 2 cameras, with at least one stationary (although it can be moved from one position to another). Having multiple shots of the same action allows you to edit a much more dynamic and interesting video. Ensure all cameras are recording in the same film aspect ratio.

3 - Shake the Shakes: Nothing says amateur like a shaky video. Ensure any stationary cameras are on a tripod, and that whomever is recording the roving footage has a steady hand.

4 - Light Up: Lighting is of the utmost importance. The cheapest and best is sunlight, but make sure it shines directly on the band and not in the camera view/angle. Where a gig is indoors, place additional lighting strategically so as to avoid shadows and stark contrasts. 5 - Sound: The most overlooked part of video is sound. Ideally take a multi-channel recording from your desk. You can remix it later, then synchronise it with the video in post production. Do not use your camera for sound!

Once you have your footage it’s a matter of editing it together. There are many easy to use editing suites available. Your video is your shop window, so it needs to be the best you can make it. So even if you couldn’t afford a videographer to do the filming, engaging a professional to edit your footage could be a very worthwhile investment.

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“We used to get Y but now only get X. Pubs have gone to hell!”.

Social media watchers will be all too familiar with this sentiment, and some cover bands that rely on pub gigs for their income know that it’s all too true. Unfortunately however, this is a fact of life. Economics dictate that prices rise, prices fall, and nothing ever stays the same. So as paid musicians, we need to either adapt to an ever changing environment, or whither away while whinging for the old days. If your current gigs aren’t paying enough, then you’re in the wrong market and you need to find a new one!

Luckily, the gigs are out there. While some musicians are more than happy to play pubs for pints (and that’s their right!), other pub bands over being paid in excess of €1,000! And of course there are the wedding, private party, and corporate event scenes. They provide in excess of 40,000 gigs a year and all tend to pay significantly higher fees than pubs. The question is how to get into those types of gigs?! Here are 5 helpful tips to get you up and running:

1 - Up Your Game: If your band is not getting the type of gigs you want right now, you have to ask yourself “what are we doing wrong”? Sure, you can blame everyone and everything around you. Excuses and perceived barriers are easy to come up with. But the reality is new bands are breaking into these markets everyday, so what do you need to change to up your game and ensure you’re one of them?

2 - Invest in a Professional Video:. You wouldn’t buy an expensive car without test driving it, so you shouldn’t expect someone to book your band without knowing what they’re getting. Because going to see you live is an inconvenience for most, the next best thing is a high quality live promo video. They can be relatively expensive to produce, but if it gets you gigs on an ongoing basis and pays for itself after just 3 or 4 bookings, it’s money very well spent.

3 - Create a Professional Website: With the advent of social media, websites are not the be all and end all they used to be. However, if you’re looking for high paying, high quality gigs, you need one, and it needs to look professional! They are great way of helping to cement the deal once someone shows an interest in you, because they give credibility to your band. You can easily create one yourself. But like the promo video, it could be worth investing in a professional.

4 - You’re in Business, Act Like it: You’re being paid to play, that means you’re running a business. So treat your profession accordingly. No ones is expecting you to don a suit, buy a briefcase, and start communicating in business speak. But simple things like professional emails, a courteous phone manner, and attention to customer service, can go a long way to improving how potential bookers perceive you. If you look and act like a professional, you’ll be treated as such.

5 - What do you Offer?: Musically you may be the best band in the world, with the best musicians. But the reality is the only people who care are you and your contemporaries. Most people are not musicians, so don’t naturally hear any difference between a good band and a great band. All they are interested in is having a good time. This means hearing the songs they like, delivered in an entertaining way. If you’re cover band is struggling to get the gigs you want, you may need to take a long hard look at what you offer and ask yourselves:
- Are we honestly playing what our target audience wants to hear, or is it what we’d like them to want?
- Is the way we perform good enough and is it what our audience wants to see?

Breaking into a market may be a daunting task, but you’ve already done it once, so you can do it again. Higher paying gigs require a higher level of professionalism and a change in approach. But with the right attitude, this is easily achievable. And once you do, the gigs and the fees you want will start coming in.

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Hey, wud der b any probs writin like dis if u wer applyin 4 a job? Would you address the person as “pal” or “dude” or “man”? Would you ignore common grammar, WRITE ALL IN CAPITALS, or avoid capitals all together? You might, but you’d be a long time waiting for a response, let alone an interview. So why is it that some musicians and bands send emails written like this when looking for gigs?

It certainly can be argued that it shouldn’t make any difference, it’s the music and performance that matters. But the reality is it does. Grammerly.com recently conducted a poll where they asked, “Does the accuracy of someone’s spelling influence your opinion of his or her competence?”. 85% of the twenty odd thousand votes were “Yes”. Because bookers receive way more band applications than they have gigs for, they’re always looking for ways to filter out acts. Amateurish looking messages, can be one such filter.

You don’t have to be a writer or sales person, just follow some basic rules such as these 5 tips to writing more professional emails:

1 - Keep it Short: Keep individual sentences, as well as the entire message, short and concise. If necessary, break it up into paragraphs to add space.

2 - Check Spellings: All common messaging platforms contain an automatic spell checker, use them. Avoid “Text Speak” for the same reason.

3 - Be Courteous: If you don’t know the person you’re writing to, address them with “Hi” and their first name if you have it. The likes of “Hey man” is fine to your peers, but not a stranger.

4 - Punctuate: Don’t forget to put full stops at the end of sentences, commas where a break is needed, and question marks where required.

5 - Use Capitalisation Properly: Words written entirely in capitals indicate you’re shouting. Sentences written without any capitals, indicate you don’t give a crap! As a general rule, Capitals should only (and always) be used at the start of sentences and names.

More professional looking emails are no guarantee of a booking or even a response, but they certainly will increase your chances. When sending a message to a new booking prospect, take that extra moment to check it over. Those reading it, will be glad you did.

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Over the Christmas season a lot more people than usual go out. And hosting Live Entertainment helps ensure that it's your door they come in. But with extra customers comes extra risks, especially when the Entertainment gets the party started!

That “Christmassy feeling”, a bigger crowd, a cracking band or DJ — they all conspire to make every night over the holiday season a great one. Whether your customers are young or old, you know that there’s something about this time of year that sees even the quietest among them getting into the party spirit. And as happens when people let their hair down, the risk of an accident goes up. So to ensure none of your nights end with a BANG (and a possible insurance claim!), there are a few simple precautions you can take:

1 - Stage: Having a raised stage, or even a cordoned off area for the band gives them more space to move, helping ensure a better performance, atmosphere, and night for everyone. Keeping a distance between the Live Act and your customers ensures your guests don’t find themselves nose to nose with either the band or the stage equipment.

Act Set-Up: Whether you hire a DJ or a band, it’s important that they have a tidy set-up. This means gear being kept off walkways, cases put away neatly and tidy once unpacked, and all stage & sound equipment properly secured so that it cannot be knocked over.

Extension Leads and Cables: Ideally there should be sufficient sockets available in the area you want the Act to play in. Where this is not possible, ensure any extension leads are safely covered or hung. Keep a roll of heavy duty adhesive “warning tape” in your tool box. Snagging a foot on a wire can be a minor trip at best, but a complete power-cut and/or major accident at worst.

Watch and Listen to the Band: Live Act members often have a better view of what’s going on in your pub than you do. And because they are continually looking at the audience, they see things that you don’t. Keep an eye on the band and look out for warning signals from them.

Offer the Band a Drink: After a gig it is understandable that most Acts just want to pack up their things and go. However, when you have a pub full of customers, breaking down bulky heavy gear and humping it to the van through a throng of customers may not be the safest idea. The band usually finishes close to the end of the night anyway, so consider throwing them up a drink and asking them to hang on for a few minutes until the crowd thins.

Murphy’s Law

Just because you’ve never had an incident, it doesn’t mean you never will! Insurance premiums are already a huge burden, so an increase after a claim pay-out could be the final straw. Don’t take chances and run the risk of falling foul of Murphy’s or Litigation Law because remember: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!”

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Choosing the right Live Band used to be potluck. Unless you happened to see them play somewhere, all you had to go on was the Band’s word; the “We’ve been playing for years….We do every type of music….Ask such and such about us…” etc. It can be all very convincing, but without proof they are just empty words.

Live Entertainment is a significant investment, so hiring a band should be no different to taking on any new supplier. Think about it; you wouldn’t take on a new beer brand based solely on the word of their sales rep. You’d expect to see branding, understand the culture of the company, and of course you’d want to taste it! So why would you book a band costing hundreds, based purely on their word?

Just like the beer sales rep, Acts lookinmg for gigs should come armed with more than just words. Here are 5 things to request before booking a band:

1 - First Impressions: When a band calls, ask them to email you. Apart from allowing you to consider it in your own time, the quality of the mail (spelling, punctuation, etc.) can be very telling about a band’s approach and whether it’s “just a pub gig” to them, or something they take a bit more seriously.

2 - Social Media: You know the importance of your social media pages for engaging with and keeping your customers informed. The pages belonging to Live Entertainment Acts are no different. Check that they promote gigs they do in other venues, and that they are engaging with their (and therefore potentially, your) customers.

3 - Videos: Whether shot on an iPhone, or by a professional videographer, a live video tells a lot about an Act and whether they are suitable for your customers or not. It may not be as good as actually seeing them live, but it’s close enough to let you make an informed decision.

4 - Photos: Whether professionally posed photos, or some snaps taken during a gig, photos tell their own story about a Band. They can help reveal the personality of a Live Act; laid back and relaxed, in your face and exciting, or something in between.

5 - Testimonials: There’s no better word than that of people who booked the band previously. Any band worth their salt will have written testimonials from satisfied past bookers. If they are not already on their website or social media page, ask for them.

Make an Informed Decision

Video and other media don’t tell you everything, and ultimately the best way to find out about a Live Band is to see them gig for yourself. But that usually isn’t practical, so at the very least an Act looking for a gig should be able to provide you with some or all of the tools mentioned above. And while they don’t guarantee that you’ll make the right decision, at least it’ll be an informed one!

TV Sports subscription channels don’t come cheap. In order to maximise your return it’s vital to get every last potential sale you can, by promoting what you have coming up. One of the most effective ways to advertise your TV Sport is via Facebook. However, coming up with what to write can be difficult and stressful.

The most straightforward way to overcome this is to share existing posts created by someone else. Eir Sport Pubs for example, is a dedicated Facebook page specifically for this purpose. However, you may want to make it a little more individual, so here are five pointers to get you started:

Include a Headline: Just like a newspaper front page, you need a hook to get people’s attention. Make your post jump out to sports fans, by highlighting that it’s about sport.

Say What’s On: This may seem obvious, but clearly spell out what the event is. Include the event name and the teams or individuals involved. If it’s part of a tournament, list what the stage is.

Starting Time:Sometimes the best drama happens in the first few minutes, so no one wants to miss the start. Ensure they don’t by listing the event starting time.

Add a Photo: Facebook posts that include an image have twice the impact of posts that don’t. So whether it’s an official image from one of your providers, or something you sourced yourself, including a relevant picture is a must to for making maximum impact.

It’s Not Just about the Big Games: You can’t assume that your customers, and more importantly potentially new customers, know what events are coming up, when they’re on, and that you’re showing them. To maximise the return on your TV Sports spend, it’s important to maximise the promotion you do. This means publicising all and any events that may draw people in, not just the big events. Even less popular games have the potential to draw die hard fans out of the woodwork and onto a bar stool.

Let GizaGig Do it For You!

Of course, you could let someone else do it all for you. That someone is GizaGig and we’ll do it for free! Watch the video to see just how easy we make, and how it covers more than just sport.

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Any serious publican knows that Facebook is a must. But finding the time and having the creativity to keep it up to date isn’t always that straight forward. A good starting point is to have a format and a process. This is essentially a set of building blocks and plans that you follow. It makes creating posts for your bar much easier, because you know exactly what information you need to provide.

Different types of posts may require different formats. Below are six suggestions to consider when creating Live Music posts for your pub:

Include a Headline: Why do Newspapers have headlines? Because they grab a reader's attention! Facebook posts are no different. A brief headline at the top of the post straight away tells the reader what the post is about and engages them. Something as simple as “LIVE MUSIC FRIDAY”, can be very effective.

Who’s Playing?: Over time cover bands and musicians develop a following of sorts. Having a particular act in your bar, might just be what convinces someone to visit you rather than a competitor. So make sure to include the Act name.
Tip: Encourage the Acts you book to share your posts by tagging their name using the @ symbol.

What Time do they Start?: It may seem obvious, but it’s so often forgotten; include the start time.

Why Should People Come?: There’s more to a person’s decision to visit your bar than whether you’ve live music or not. People heading out for a drink want a particular type of atmosphere. What you offer may be exactly what they are looking for, so tell them about it. For example; “It’s party time in My Bar tonight with live music from Moone Boys”, or “Looking for a relaxing evening? Then join us in My Bar for a chilled out evening of acoustic music with Tom Boy”.

Special Offers: Adding a special offer on the end of your post can be a great way to cement the idea in someone’s head that they are going to your place.

Include a Photo or Video: An image is often what draws a person to a post. So it is vital to always include one. Where possible, it should be of the actual band playing.

See how GizaGig can take the time and hassle out of Facebook, by doing your Live Music posts for free!

https://www.gizagig.com/Home/SocialMedia

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Even if you’re only doing a weekly quiz and showing the odd free to air sporting event on TV, a monthly “What’s On” poster is a must for your pub. However, a “What’s On” poster doesn’t have to be just about what’s on, it can help drum up business in other ways. As discussed in a previous blog, “5 Places to Hang Your Bar Entertainment Posters”, when hung in the right places people will take the time to read a poster. You can take advantage of this and maximise the advertising opportunity for your venue by including information about more than just what’s on.

Your Name: Just because someone is in your bar and reading your poster, doesn't mean they’ll make the connection! So put the name of your pub on the top.

Tagline: Think about what you want your bar to be known for, then say it in twelve or less words. Something as simple as “Great Food, Great Live Music & Great Craic!” says a lot.

Other Services: Do you have ongoing special offers, accept party bookings, or serve food? If you have services to offer that can bring in more business, get it onto your posters! Just make sure to change the message each month so as to keep it fresh.

Contact Details: If you accept party bookings or are happy to answer customer queries, then tell them how to get in touch with you.

Social Media Platforms: Don’t just assume people know you’re on Facebook or other social media platforms. Make it obvious by including the relevant logos.

Posters Made Easy

Although essential to your business, compiling a monthly bar entertainment “What’s On” poster can be time consuming. That’s why we have a developed a quick and easy poster designer, and it’s completely free. Simply tell us what TV stations and sports you, keep your events calendar up to date, and every month you’ll automatically get a new poster design.

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Your customers are in for some real entertainment treats in your bar this month. You’ve booked several live bands, have a weekly quiz, and you’re showing tonnes of top class sport on the TV. You’ve put it all onto a Monthly What’s On Poster to spread the word, had a batch printed. Now you just need to hang them where they’re most likely to get read. Conveniently, every pub has multiple poster “sweet spots”; places where customers are away from their friends and have the time to read what entertainment’s coming up in your bar. Here are our top 5 suggestions:

1 - Front Window: An eye-catching poster displayed in your front window will make passers-by stop, and they will look at it to see what it’s about. The bigger the better, so that it can even be seen from across the street. A1 or A0 sizes are most appropriate.

2 - Behind the Bar: Nearly everyone that comes into your pub will stand in front of the bar at some point and remain there long enough to read the contents of a What’s On Poster. Just ensure they’re big enough for people to read without taking away from the look of your bar. We’d suggest A2 or A3 depending on how much live music and other entertainment you have.

3 - Entrance Way: Whether coming or going, people tend to loiter in a bar’s entrance way. They could be waiting on a taxi or their friends, taking a private call, or simply strolling in at their leisure and allow themselves to get distracted by a poster. Aa A3, hung in a place where the reader isn’t blocking everyone else, is perfect

4 - Smoking Area: Throughout your bar’s opening hours, your smoking area will have a steady stream of individuals taking a few minutes out from the group they’re with. As their only focus is having a cigarette, it is the perfect time to grab their attention and keep it for a few minutes by giving them something engaging to look at. Suggested sizes are A3 or A2.

5 - Toilets: Toilets are an often untapped resource in a bar. It is a place where your customers are likely to visit at least once on a visit, where they will spend time disengaged from others, and where they are more likely to take time out to read something that’s put in front of them. An A3 poster on the rear of each cubicle door, above each urinal, and above the hand drier, are perfect locations.

Be Consistent
Monthly What’s On Posters are a fantastic way to promote all of your bar entertainment. They are low-cost, have longevity, and are engaged with differently to every other marketing medium you use. However, they are useless unless you consistently produce them each month, and hang them in the same places.

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Although we had a colder than usual start to the year, things have improved greatly over the last few weeks, with many more sunny days than rainy. It bodes well for a good summer! This means one thing for publicans and punters: lazy Sunday afternoons in a beer garden :-).

Actually, hopefully not so lazy for publicans. In fact, you want it to be the opposite. So now is the time to start planning on how to profit from those sunny days of rest. Here are five live entertainment suggestions to get punters into your beer garden and keep them there: 1 - Jazz Session: There is something about a crooner in the sun with a brass section, that lifts even the most lowly of spirits. Those classic songs and tunes, mixed with a few classic cocktails and plenty of banter, makes Jazz the perfect lazy Sunday afternoon event. It’s sophisticated, it’s different, and it can be soooo relaxing!

2 - Sports Quiz: We may not be in it, but many of us will sure as hell be watching it. Yes, the World Cup. Taking up nearly half the summer, it’s guaranteed to bring a few extra punters through the door on a Sunday afternoon. And to keep them there after the final whistle, what better way that a fun World Cup quiz to test their knowledge and create a buzz.

3 - Blues Afternoon: After a long week of listening to the charts on the radio at work, and more charts in the clubs on Friday and Saturday night, sometimes come Sunday your customers just want a change. Blues in the sun is that change. It’s engaging melodies and riffs are perfect for kicking back with a craft beer or whiskey!

4 - Irish Folk: From eighteen to eighty, there are few among us that don’t have a love for “Whiskey in the Jar” or “I’ll Tell Me Ma”. They’re familiar, they’re uplifting, and they’re comforting. So they’re the perfect ingredients to help your customers chill and get in the mood for the working week ahead.

5 - Singer/Songwriter: Singer/Songwriters often struggle to find a platform for their music. This is a great pity because there is some amazing undiscovered talent out there. However, this provides bars with a win-win opportunity for everyone. It suits you the publican because your booking costs are lower than for a covers band. It suits the Acts because they have an opportunity to play to an audience that is more likely to listen to them. And it suits the customers because they get to hear something new and at a time when they are more open to it. Who knows, yours could be the bar that helps launch the next Ed Sheeran! Be Persistent & Consistent
Ireland being Ireland, the weather will be as changeable as, well the weather! However, don’t let a bit of rain put you off. Hail or shine, be persistent and consistent. If you plan to run an afternoon event every Sunday until All-Ireland day, then do it, even if that means bringing it inside on occasion.

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When it comes to live music and bar entertainment, Bars and pubs generally expect Acts to bring their own P.A. system as they don’t have one in-house. However, they could be missing a trick.

There are many ways an in-house PA system can benefit your business, many of which you may not have considered. If you’ve never thought about investing in a PA system, here are five reasons why you might:

1 - Health & Safety: Live bands pose two significant insurance risks. The first is the “humping of gear” through your pub. This often happens when it’s at its busiest, so tables can be knocked, bodies bumped, and drinks spilled. The second is the positioning of speakers. They are usually on stands and for practical and technical reasons, positioned right where customers are liable to knock the speakers (and themselves!) over. With an in-house system, the speakers can be permanently fixed in a safe and secure location out of harm's way. It also reduces the amount of gear the band need to bring through the pub.

2 - Greater Control: The bane of many publicans lives, is the volume control on a band’s PA and the high level it sometimes seems to get stuck at. With your own PA, you can have independent controls behind the bar that the band have no access to. You can even set different volumes for different parts of your bar. However, control is about more than just volume. Having an in-house PA allows you to ensure a more consistent and high quality sound.

3 - Better Customer Experience: Having a live band as your bar entertainment, comes with one unavoidable problem; the set-up. Between lifting gear and the incessant drone of “1, 2”, you can be guaranteed that some, if not all, of your customers are going to be disturbed in someway. As already mentioned, by having an in-house PA system, you reduce the amount of equipment a band needs to bring through. This also means less time setting everything up.

4 - Handy to Have: An in-house system comes with plenty of little benefits that can have a big impact:
- Sell it as a benefit to people thinking of booking your bar for a party or celebration where speeches are to be made.
-Use it to make safety and general announcements.
- It opens up a world of opportunities for other low cost Bar Entertainment.

5 - It can Save You Money: No different to yourself, bands want an easier life. They hate the moving of gear and the pro-longed set up just as much as you do. So where you can offer to take part of that hassle away, some bands will reward you by charging a lower fee.

What’s Involved?

P.A. systems are not the hugely expensive pieces of tech they once were. There are plenty of good quality, good value systems available. You don’t even need to get the whole thing. In most cases all you need are the basic speakers and amp into which the band can plug their own mixing desk.

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With just a handful of customers sipping their drinks and bar staff twiddling their thumbs, those recurring dead nights are a killer for pubs. So we’ve put 5 Bar Entertainment suggestions together to help you inject a bit of life into them. They’re all a bit of fun for your customers, can be run by a bar person working a shift on their own, and won’t cost a penny if you don’t want them to.

1 - Solo Pub Quiz: There are no teams, no mobile phones, and its every woman or man for themselves! All you need is a bunch of pens, paper sheets, questions, and a readiness to get the craic started. Take an entry fee and put the money into the prize fund. Then ask the questions in rounds, which you can do as you continue working. At the end of each one, randomly distribute the completed answer sheets between the customers, so that they can correct each other. When all rounds have been completed, total the scores and give the pot to the winner. You’ll find plenty of questions on Triviaplaza.com and Sporcle.com.

2 - TV Theme Night: Whether it’s Peaky Blinders, Dancing with the Stars, or Coronation Street, everyone has their favourite and must see weekly TV show. So pick one, and set your bar up as the place to watch it. Rearrange your seating if necessary to make viewing as comfortable as possible, and put a unique themed cocktail on special to boost sales even more. And don’t forget, if it’s a series you have two opportunities for BIG nights; the season opener, and the season finale!

3 - Drinks Tasting Night: How about “Try me Tuesdays”? Whether it’s craft beer, specialist gins & whiskies, or fine wines, create a sipping platter that represents good value. Get your suppliers and those who are trying to get their products onto your shelves onboard too. Apart from the potential for a discount on the product, many are delighted to have an opportunity to talk about their brand directly to your customers. This writer had just such an experience with a beer expert from McGargles. Apart from being incredibly interesting and informative, it was a really fun evening :-).

4 - Arts Night: As a nation with a proud history in the arts, it’s surprising just how difficult it is for emerging artists to find a public platform from which to show off their wares. So give them one. Run a weekly arts night where novelists, poets, painters, or songwriters can exhibit and sell their work. Apart from it being a chance to engage with your local community and build trust and credibility, it’s a fantastic opportunity for PR.

5 - Video Game Night: Contrary to what some commentators believe, Video gaming can be a very interpersonal and social activity. Tap into this by hosting a weekly video night. Choose a specific game, then have your customers bring their devices along, log into your wifi, and all play simultaneously. Battle Royale games such as Fortnite allow nearly 100 at a time, while the likes of FIFA has up to 16 players.

Be Persistent & Consistent

As with all bar entertainment, there’s a catch: it takes effort and it takes time. Short of hiring U2 or Macklemore for the night, nothing is going to bring a sudden influx of customers through your doors. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen over time if you’re persistent and consistent. Take the time to research and plan your idea so you can make it the best you can. That way your customers will have good reason to sit at your bar, rather than their sofa at home :-).