What every musician needs to prepare before playing a gig

Whether it's your first gig or your 101st, there are some essentials you need in place to succeed. Check ISM's great guide...


Whether it’s your very first paid gig or you are a performing veteran, you need to make sure that you’re prepared.

Our check list is essential for every performing musician...

Location and access

Make sure you know exactly where you are performing and how to get there.

Find out the venue’s access requirements surrounding instruments and tech, as well as any disabled access information in case your band or anyone in the audience needs it.

Make sure there is a contract in place

Make sure you negotiate the amount of time you are playing for and your fee ahead of the gig with the booker or venue. We advise that you have everything confirmed in writing. ISM members can download our contract template for free.

Be sure to make it clear to the venue or booker that there is no agreed performance until the contract is signed by both parties."

Be covered

You will be required to have Public Liability insurance before any gig or concert. If someone trips over your equipment and hurts themselves while you’re performing, your Public Liability insurance will protect you. ISM membership includes £10,000,000 worth of public, employers' and product liability insurance cover including in the event of public injury or loss/damage to third party property during the course of your career. We’ve got you covered.

Promote your gig

Once you’ve booked your show, you’ll need people to come watch you perform. Add the event to your website listings and update your social media with all the key details of the gig. We recommend that you create a Facebook event, build a mailing list and add your gig to other listing sites. Find out more about how you can promote yourself here.

Top tip: be sure to upload photos and videos of the gig after the show, encouraging your followers to do the same. They will appreciate that you enjoyed your set as much as they did."

Practise makes perfect

Know your set list and practise as much as you feel is necessary ahead of the key performance.

Control your nerves

Many musicians experience pre-show nerves or performance anxiety ahead of a gig. It is important to take some time to mentally prepare yourself for your show, whether it is breathing techniques, mindfulness or any other coping mechanism that helps you prepare. Our toolkit PLAY provides performers with practical and easy to use strategies to overcome performance anxiety and reach optimal music performance.

Wear ear plugs

It is very common to find that musicians suffer noise-induced hearing loss more than the general population. We recommend that you take the steps to protect one of a musician’s most valuable tools with hearing protection."

ISM members receive a special discount on custom made hearing protection from ACS Custom. You can also watch our webinar with Hearology to pick up some tips for ear health longevity.

Let the music do the talking and enjoy yourself!

Finally, tune your instruments, have your set list ready and perform!

Oh and remember to enjoy yourself! 

About ISM

The ISM is the UK’s professional body for musicians. We were set up in 1882 to promote the art of music and to protect the interests of all musicians. Today we support over 9,000 members from across the music industry providing them with unrivalled services and expert advice, from study up until retirement and beyond. We are a wholly independent, non-profit-making organisation.

We offer ISM student members over 90% off our full membership rate. Join us for just £15 a year, a discount of £163 a year. Find out more ism.org/join

Study music in London with ICMP

If you're interested in developing your musicianship, learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations.

Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk and start your music career today.

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by Jessica Salter, ISM
February 12, 2019
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