Playing Live

"My songs always sound a lot better in person than they do on the record." - Bob Dylan

So you’ve got yourself a set list of solid songs, and the thought of performing an actual gig doesn’t sound so much like public execution any more. Where to now? We discuss all things gig-related with the manager of a live music venue, the talent director of one of the nation's biggest touring festivals, an event manager, and a show-savvy bass player.

Start anywhere

Anywhere is a good start. There’s always a place for a musician to play their songs to strangers, no matter what level they’re at – from the street corner busking for coins, to dedicated original live music haunts, to festival stages boasting state of the art production equipment. The main thing is that you get out there!

Dan Davies, manager of Darwin's hotbed of local original music Happy Yess, shares some tips on approaching and playing venues.

Play to progress

Playing gigs is an excellent way to progress your career. Not only do you sharpen your playing skills and become a better musician, but you also have the chance to impress people who will spread the word, and potentially generate a bit of buzz around your act. James Gough of NOOK Event Management explains why it pays to become a strong live act as soon as you can.

Even if you’ve been kicking around the local scene for a while and it feels like you’ve played the same place to the same people for the 20th time, taking your shows to bigger audiences or different places increases your fanbase and bolsters your presence in the greater music scene. Jade Skelly, talent director for music festival juggernaut Big Day Out, shares some insight into what a high-profile event looks for in the acts they book, and how to make the most of an opportunity to play a big show.

Play on

There are few things in life better than a spine-tingling or foot-stomping live performance – if you can consistently give your audience that, then you’ve got some serious makings for success. Ryan Lamb, of Australia's next big thing Alpine, offers thoughts on why bands should always take their live performances seriously, and in what ways musicians can improve on stage.