So just what is this "exposure" thing and what can it do for you? Exposure can mean building awareness of either your personal brand or that of your band. This extended awareness will hopefully result in additional gigs or additional sales for your products. So how do you determine whether you'll gain enough exposure to make the gig worthwhile? Here's the formula I've come up with after years of getting burned:
1) Don't believe what anybody tells you. If you're told that agents, managers, record labels or a possible new audience might see you, take it all with a grain of salt. Do some research and find out for yourself before you make a commitment. The gig is going to cost you time and probably money, so try to make sure up front that you'll actually be getting what's promised.
2) Try to match any potential exposure to your promotional needs. Assuming that you've verified that you'll actually be playing in front of a crowd (that's not always the case), try to find out:
- Is this a crowd that wants to be entertained in the first place? No use playing to a thousand people who just want some background music instead of the type of show that you have to offer. An example would be playing a wedding because a manager that you want to meet will be there. The problem is it's the bride's day and she'll control what you play and how you'll play. You'll never be at your best no matter what you do so it's a no-win situation. Avoid gigs like this all costs.
- Is this a compatible audience? Don't take the gig to try to open up a new market segment that you don't already have a handle on. It hardly ever happens. If you're a great ska band but you're asked to open up for a hard rock band at a biker rally, chances are the crowd won't like you no matter how great a show you put on. It's an incompatible audience, so don't waste your time.
Don't let that exposure gig go the wrong way. Think really hard about it and do your homework before you commit.
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