How To (Actually) Become the Opening Act for Major Artists
Written by Cameron Mayo
One of the many struggles of being an independent artist is finding new fans. There are several ways to do it, but one of the best is performing as the opening act for a bigger artist. It immediately introduces you to the headlining artist’s fans and creates some great publicity opportunities. This article will give you some of the best ways to become the opening act for a major artist and teach you how to reach more people than ever in 2019.
These ideas will work for just about any genre! Hip hop, pop, indie, jazz, or rock, there are concerts of just about every style of music out there. So, read closely and prepare to get to work!
BUILD A *LOCAL* FOLLOWING
You need to be ready for when an artist in your genre comes to town and they are looking for an opener. If you cannot find tour info for you town, contact local venues to see who has booked shows. Sometimes the venue organizes the opener and you could talk with them about gettig booked.
If you are directed to the band's manager, this is your shot to make a good first impression. When you talk the manager and ask if you can open for their band (I’ll talk about this later on in the article), the first question they ask will be, “How many people can you bring to the concert?” and you need to answer with numbers.
To prepare for conversations with band managers, you should be working hard to build a local following and a track record of filling seats at venues. If you do not have these numbers, it is likely the headlining act will not let you open for them. If you do have the numbers and they are not high enough, that means you have some work to do on your fanbase.
To help build a local fanbase, click the button below and read the article. It will help you make a plan to start making waves in your local music scene.
Even if you have a vibrant social media presence and following, the headliner’s main concern will be how many people regularly come to your concerts. They want to sell tickets and if your act cannot help with that, they simply cannot afford to have you play.
BUILD YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE (STRATEGICALLY)
You always want to have an end goal in mind when building your online presence. If you want to play live shows, this is especially important.
While it's true that you should promote your music on SoundCloud, Spotify, & YouTube, that doesn't mean you should do it equally on all platforms.
YouTube is undoubtedly the winner when it comes to geographically promoting your music. Some people would even say Facebook ads are helpful here, but I would argue that YouTube is the best in this area because people go to YouTube specifically to listen to music. People do not specifically go to Facebook to listen to music as they do on YouTube, Spotify, or SoundCloud.
Any reputable YouTube music promotion company will have the ability to geo-target your song.
If you're just going for overall listens online, Spotify and SoundCloud are fine for that. But if you want your release to be promoted in a specific city or state, YouTube is the way to go.
When bands book opening acts, they value professionalism. That means they want an opener that is respectful, shows up on time to sound checks, and gets the crowd pumped up to hear the headlining band play. Even at the smallest shows, you can start building a reputation of professionalism.
Something that goes a long way is gratitude. After you play a show, send a personal thank you note to the venue, the headlining band, and anyone that made the concert possible. It may sound a bit soft, but it will help you build a relationship with people in the industry and may lead to better performance opportunities it the future.
Additionally, it lets the headlining band’s manager know you are a humble and respectful. While planning a tour, managers and bands are always looking for openers to tour with them. If the manager likes you, you could be invited to tag along.
APPROACH THE RIGHT ARTISTS
When thinking about what kind of artists you should approach, consider if you will be musically compatible. You may be a terrific artist and have some great music, but if your style is not going to vibe with the headliner’s fans, they will not book you.
Even if you do get booked, chances are the gig will not be good and ultimately hurt your brand. For example, an indie folk band’s fans probably won’t appreciate heavy metal. If your fanbases overlap enough, everyone will enjoy the show, and both you and the headlining band come out with new fans.
Be engaged in your local music community. Go to shows. Play shows. Talk to the bands. Introduce yourself to venue managers. There are so many people that can influence your performance opportunities. If you are actively participating in your local music scene and meeting new people all the time, chances are at least one of them will have some valuable contacts.
The best opportunities often are not openly advertised, but instead filled by people who the artist’s manager has heard good things about. Building a network of industry professionals is a huge part of growth and a fast way to getting on a manager's shortlist. You can have thousands of fans, but if the people with power do not like or know you, you may never get out of playing open mics and Monday nights at the local bar.
WRAP IT UP
The music industry is as strong as it has ever been. Bands and managers alike are looking for great new artists to play as openers for concerts all across the country. With these simple tips, 2019 could be your year! Just remember to be nice, work hard, invest in yourself, and make great music.
Becoming an opening act is an invaluable opportunity and can change the trajectory of your music career.
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