Targeting headlining performers
Supporting a bigger performer than yourself is a great way to get your music heard by a much larger audience. Firstly start with singers/bands with a good local following that ar of a similar style to your music. Being a support act is a great opportunity to expand your fan base.
Some tips for becoming a support act
- Check for upcoming shows in your local area. Figure out which shows you can make and find out if they have already announced their support act. If not, get in touch and offer your services.
- Go to their gigs and local events to get an idea of what you can expect as a support act.
- Open Mic nights can be one way to network for contacts and other acts.
- For smaller, more local shows it is often the promoter who chooses the support act. Having a good reputation, both in terms of fan base and performance level, will help you here.
- Usually, the good promoters who put on bigger shows in your area are the ones who deal with bigger acts, so try and get on the bills of some of their smaller shows and get known by them.
- If you haven’t had any shows with the promoters, get in touch for them and give them your details. Always be prepared for an act to drop out at the last minute so you get the call to step in. It could be the show that moves you up the ladder!
- Try to find an act’s booking agents contact email. Contacting them directly, without getting pushy or forceful, can help build up a rapport on a personal level!
Being chosen as a support act
An artist in the position to pick their support act probably gets a fair few requests. You need to make yourself stand out. Ideally, you do that by word of mouth and reputation that you are not only good but have a fan base. Either way, you may need to make them check your demo out rather than press delete without giving you so much as a glance. The key to getting the role as the support act is that they will want an act that can boost ticket sales and warm the crowd up for them. You need to prove that you have the fan base and stage performance that can do this!
Make the most of being the support act
- Now you have your slot on the bill, you have to put on the best show you can to win over new fans and leave a good impression on the headliners.
- Fulfil any promotional commitments you make. Plug the show to your existing fan base and in the local area to generate interest and hopefully boost sales. This will leave a good impression on the headliner and the promoter if you are actively driving ticket sales!
- Use the opportunity as a support act to write a press release and get more exposure for the event and yourself.
- Where possible, try and leave time free after the gig in case it goes well and they ask you back for more shows. If you already have shows lined up, be honest. Honesty is the best policy, don’t try and wing it until right up to the show and end up messing up both commitments.
- Sort out technical aspects of your support act in advance. Find out if the headlining act doesn’t mind you bringing your own gear or if they would rather share to save change over time and stage space. Always have spares, such as batteries or guitar strings!
- Always treat the sound engineer with respect. He is responsible for your sound, always stay polite!
- Inform them of any visuals or unusual technical requirements you have, such as a banjo in one song. Writing a small tech spec to hand to the engineer on arrival is a good idea, make it clear and concise. Always ask in a polite manner.
- Find out if you can sell some of your own merchandise. It’s better to ask than just assume you can!
- Make sure you know what time you are in for load-in and soundcheck! If you work full-time, make sure you make appropriate arrangements well in advance if you need to take an afternoon off. Always get there early! Being fashionably late will do you no favours.
- Always thank the promoter and sound engineer after the gig; you never know when you may need to call upon them again.