Gig Checklist—All the Details You Don't Want to Overlook

The devil is in the details...this checklist can help

Got a show coming up? Whether you're handling gig promotion duties for yourself or you're a promoter putting on a show, this gig checklist will help make sure everything falls into place just perfectly. Just take a deep breath and methodically check things off if you begin to feel overwhelmed, or even just to make sure you're really ready when you think you are. 

Book the Venue for Your Musicians

guitarist tuning on stage before gig
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First things first—just when and where is this event going to take place? Be sure to book the venue far enough in advance so you can promote the show. Do a check of the local music calendar to make sure your gig won't be competing with any major musical event. 

Make and Distribute Flyers and Posters

Start getting the word out by making posters and flyers and getting them around town. They don't have to be fancy as long as they include the necessary information about your show—you can hand make and photocopy them. Of course, fancy is good, too!

Give some flyers to the venue and put them in all the usual places in your area where show poster and flyers are displayed. You might want to do this a few times in the run-up to your show. Be sure to include certain information, such as: 

  • The musicians who will be playing
  • Where it will happen 
  • How much it will cost 
  • The time when the doors open

If tickets are available in advance, you can also include info about where they can be purchased. You might want to include relevant websites/social networking profiles for the musicians involved in the show if they're available. 

Contact the Press

Let the local papers and radio stations know about your show. Angle for previews in the local paper and radio sessions in the run-up to your event. College radio can be a real friend here. Be sure to give the press plenty of notice and follow up with them to find out if they're willing to give your show some coverage. Offer guest list spots to the media and radio. Write and circulate a press release. 

Technical Arrangements

Between the venue and the musicians playing, you're going to want to work out details like backline and who's going to be running the sound desk, if anyone. Find out what the venue has, what the musicians need, and come up with a plan to have everything in place the night or day of the show. It's best to do this in advance so you can chase down anything that's required, then confirm again as the date draws closer. You don't want any last-minute surprises at show time. 

Set the Times

Decide load-in, sound check, and stage times for the night of the show. The venue will decide the load-in time, but the promoter/musicians will work out the sound check and stage times. Remember to take into account when the show has to end, how long everyone wants to play, and how long the changeover will take between sets. Also, remember that headliners sound check first. 

Advance Your Show

Think of advancing your show as a last-minute check to make sure everything in order. Is the gear all set? Does everyone know when to show up? Do you have someone to work the door? Is the guest list set? Be sure to do your final check with enough time left to take care of those inevitable last-minute emergencies.