**STOP** Don't Take That Gig! (4 Warning Signs)...

Every once in awhile a guitarist is offered what seems like a totally amazing gig. Too good to be true, this gig has it all, great pay, perks, low hours and huge exposure.

And, sometimes, of course, the gig will be totally legitimate and it's not any kind of scam or a waste of your time. However, more often than not, these "amazing gigs" are nothing but a complete sham...

Not long ago, I received a phone call by an event planner (who I never heard of). Me being the slightly skeptical type - of people like this, I made a quick internet search of his name. The search revealed that this guy was indeed an event planner, and he had done a few of the large events around town. He "seemed" to be the real deal.

The thing that bothered me about the call was that the whole time we were on the phone he just seemed to be blowing smoke (you-know-where) to get me to reduce my fee and to agree to terms I normally might not otherwise be comfortable with.

Another thing, was that he was a fast sell, like a cheesy used car salesman, and he made it hard to resist walking away from him in the moment. But, in the end, there were too many red-flags for me, so I turned him away. And, I'm glad that I turned down the gig. It just didn't feel right.

The moral of this short story is that every musician needs a set of red-flags to be on alert for. If those flags start popping up, you need to get out, before you commit to doing something that will be a serious problem for you down the road.

Below is a set of "Red Flags" you'll want to keep in mind before committing to any gig. Keep in mind, that your gut instinct will always be your best friend with these situations. So, always trust your feelings. If it "feels" bad, it probably is.

#1). They don't like it that you have a rider agreement /contract
When most musicians /bands first start out, those gigs that seem so "important" are like a dream coming true. But, when the booker hears that you have a simple contract that will need signing, they flip out. Or, they avoid the entire topic like the plague.

On the flip-side of this scenario... Musicians will let rider agreements slide, or agree to all kinds of crazy details without anything signed in writing. Or, if the booker says they have a contract and they'll send it out, but it never arrives. (the agreement kept getting “lost” or it was "sent in an email,” - didn't you get it?)... Or, there's a myriad of other excuses, you've got a serious "Red-Flag.".

If it's an important enough gig, it's important enough for the venue to sign a simple rider – remember, it's good for them, and it's good for you.Both sides are protected and the terms are in writing.

This goes double if it's a major event. They want as few complications as possible. If they can't get it together enough to sign the agreement, odds are the show – a much bigger undertaking – is going to be a mess, too. Or worse: If they bristle at the idea, something's very off. Walk away, because you're about to get screwed.

#2). The promoter has a bad reputation
If other bands have been ripped off by a booker or event planner, stay away! You won't be any different. You will have problems as well. Guaranteed.

Before booking a gig, do some internet sleuthing, check on Reddit, or ask other bands that have played for that planner, booker, or in that room or have even just dealt with that promoter. If it's bad, they're going to tell you.

Bad venues and rotten promoters can turn over a new leaf, and if they've been on their best behavior recently, you might want to be a little more open. But don't jump in blind, and certainly turn it down if the venue has bad reviews, or if the event planner has a whole page of people hating on Reddit.

#3). The event doesn't fit your style of music
Granted, there can be some overlap between genres, and it's always possible to win over new fans regardless. But if the place is a major hangout for punk rock and you've got a Grateful Dead cover band, you're gonna have a bad time.

Remember, just because the venue booked you doesn't necessarily mean its staff knows what they're doing or that they have actually done their homework on your band. Unless they're paying you exceptionally well, turn it down. Odds are you're either going to have an angry or confused crowd or you'll be playing to nobody.

#4). The room is dead and never draws a crowd
There are a few reasons this could happen. Maybe they don't promote, aren't in an ideal area, or it's summer in a college town. Either way, it may not be the gig for you, especially if you don't have a large fan-base to draw from.

But even if you know you're not going to play to a full house, there are a few reasons to take the gig anyway. Maybe you want a practice show or you're trying to make a name for yourself. In general, however, it's not something to make a habit of.

It's not always easy to figure out if the venue draws a crowd or not, especially if the promoter makes big promises, but this is another case where talking to other bands can help you out.

Better yet, drive by the place on a weekend to see how things look (provided it's not unreasonable to do so). If it's dead, you might be better turning it down. There's nothing more depressing than playing for the sound guy.

In the end, trust your gut. If something feels off, it probably is. If something sounds too good to be true – the promoter promises record deals, heavy radio play, and millions of fans for everyone – you should take it with a grain of salt.

While you might not be in a situation to be picky about every show you play, you should be able to weed out the really bad ones using these pointers as a guide.



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