No-Budget Venue Ideas for Your Band

Before your band can reach the heights of Coldplay or U2, you have to build your audience and that means playing as many gigs as possible.
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Before your band can reach the heights of Coldplay or U2, you have to build your audience and that means playing as many gigs as possible. When you're just starting out, the chances are that your budget will be pretty slim, meaning that you are unlikely to be able to afford to hire venues until you have the audience that can fill them and therefore pay the bills.

To get your sound out to the masses, the two most popular ways are still the internet and constant gigging. Artists like Ed Sheeran have made their mark on the industry by playing as many gigs at as many venues as possible and built an audience that way. The Artic Monkeys made a very similar, selling CDs at gigs that allowed them to keep playing and building a following that would see them go on to great things.

This approach of selling music at gigs has been popular for decades. It will always be the grass roots way of building an audience and much cooler than the reality TV approach.

Some bands prefer to take the internet approach to stardom these days, with YouTube launching the likes of Justin Bieber into the hearts and minds of the world. All you need is a camera that can upload to YouTube and a bit of talent. Who knows who could be watching? Your video could go viral in a matter of minutes. 42 million people have now seen Bieber's cover of Chris Brown's 'With You'.

Taking the more traditional approach of gigging, here are four examples of ways for bands to get gigs. Some are more conventional than others, but all of them cost nothing to put on. When you're just starting out, that's a pretty useful budget to have!

Live Stream from Your Bedroom

It wasn't so long ago that the likes of Sandi Thom were making waves by setting up MySpace accounts and performing gigs online. Despite Justin Timberlake attaching his name to the brand, MySpace isn't the force it once was, although bands and music artists still use it and the format still works perfectly for music artists to get their voice out there.

There are a number of ways to set up a live broadcast for your gig, and it doesn't have to be at the O2 Arena to be exciting. The rawness of a live performance could be great even from your bedroom. Just make sure you don't have anything embarrassing on your walls. Your Doctor Who bed sheets should probably be out of shot too. You don't want to find yourself in an American Pie situation, you want the focus to be fully on the band, and on the performance.

Go Old School with Your Garage

The term garage band still sounds as cool as ever. It's an iconic image, and your band could make it even more iconic by having your garage as the venue for one of your gigs. If you have a roller garage door or similar, consider using it as the curtain, slowly raising it to reveal the four guys who are about to rock the crowd. The crowd might not be enormous, but remember that only 35-40 people turned up at the famous Lesser Free Trade Hall Sex Pistols gig in 1976. Gigs are what you make of them, so get plugged into that garage and make the term 'garage band' your own.

Open Mic Nights

Pubs, clubs and bars all over the country offer their stage to musicians at Open Mic Nights. Sometimes you can witness a little bit of magic at these events, as a complete unknown artist steps up and pours their soul out on stage, or a local band gets up and makes a god-awful racket that is so bad it becomes good because it's so much fun.

Open mics are extremely popular for grassroots music fans who want to hear good music, and for bands who are just starting out and who want to try out their burgeoning material in front of a good crowd for free. It often takes a while before a band can get a good set of gigs together, so open mics are often perfect for bands to gel as a live unit and improve their confidence in front of a live audience. It means that when the bigger - and paid - gigs start to come in, the band has done their apprenticeship and now they're ready for bigger and better things.

Low Budget Festivals

Festivals have grown so massively over the last decade, you hardly know where to begin when you start considering which one you want to go to. Glastonbury, V Festival and Reading/Leeds have launched hundreds of other festivals of varying size and quality. It has also created opportunities for small and local bands to play at festivals that have been set up in local areas.

The Oxjam Festival is a great example of a festival that is popular for smaller and local bands and artists from around the UK. It runs all through October with a ridiculous number of events around the UK, all organised by volunteers who know and love their local music scene. It is run to help Oxfam raise money for their charity, and plenty of local venues get involved. If you can get on the bill at one of these events, you've got a great opportunity on your hands.


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