How to Get a Gig: A Beginner's Guide hero

How to Get a Gig: A Beginner's Guide

Posted Friday, September 8th 2023 by Abby Payne
Your voice lessons are going great, you sound fantastic and are ready to take things to the next level. What’s the process?

So, your voice lessons are going great, you sound fantastic and are ready to take things to the next level by singing on a stage for a real audience. What’s the process?

There are many ways to make this happen. So much in life is luck and being in the right place
at the right time, bumping into the right person at Starbucks who’s looking for a singer just like you. But here are a few things that will set you up for success when that lucky break strikes, and will help you to be proactive in making your performance dreams come true:

A Demo

In order to hire you, people will need to hear what you sound like! A demo of 2-3 songs that accurately depict your voice and the style you intend to perform will work great. This can be as simple or as fancy as you like. The most important thing is that it showcases your abilities as a singer and that it has decent sound quality. This can be fairly easily achieved through home recording, but if you have access to a band and/or a recording studio, go for it! It doesn’t need to sound like a masterpiece in order to get you a gig, but it should sound good enough that you would be willing to release it on Spotify or the like.


Venues or bandleaders will also often ask for video footage of live performance. This is a highly functional and very affordable way to show what you can do! Be sure to have someone on iPhone video duty every time you perform. Oftentimes, these videos are high enough quality for YouTube or for reference. If you haven’t performed very much yet, you can make a video of yourself singing at home, or book a voice lesson with this in mind and have your teacher accompany you or help shoot it. If someone is considering having you sing at their venue or is even looking at you for the possibility of a musical theatre role, they will find these videos extremely helpful in painting a clear picture of what you do.

Promo Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words! Be sure to have a clear, flattering photo of yourself that the club or casting director can use as promo. Photographers are expensive, but it’s worth it. And if that’s not in the budget, get your friend with the great eye and the great phone camera and buy them a coffee for a mini photo shoot outdoors or in a room with good lighting.

Having been on all sides of this (as a performer trying to get work, as well as a person on the other side of a casting table), I can tell you that having these three things at the ready will increase your chances of booking a gig exponentially. If you can have them all together on a website, that’s fantastic (I use Bandzoogle as my website platform, but there are many that will work great), but it’s not a deal breaker. In order to hire you, people want to hear you, see you, and have a good idea of what you will bring to the table.

We can’t control who will book us, but we can control how we put ourselves out there as a performer. So, what are you waiting for? Go get your gig!

Abby Payne

Voice Teacher Associate

Abby Payne has been teaching and performing in New York City and beyond for nearly 20 years. She holds a bachelor of music from SUNY Purchase (Jazz Studies) and has completed the NYVC Voice Teacher Training and Certification program. Abby specializes in teaching all levels in contemporary styles of voice, piano, and songwriting.

Take My Breath Away

Riddle me this: When is using more breath detrimental to your vocal health? Answer: When it isn't. Every breath you take... Not surprisingly, there's a lot of hot air floating around the voice teaching community concerning the use of breath during singing. Do you try to flutter the tissue dangling a daunting ten feet away from your mouth while trying to execute your Beyoncé inspired riffs? Or do you try your best to keep your steamy exhale from fogging up the mirror you're holding claustrophobically close to your mouth? Both of these I have been asked to perform in voice lessons, and in both of these I have succeeded in achieving new heights of light headedness.

Auditioning 101: What Are They Looking For?

I already know what you are thinking. The wheels are spinning and the corners of your mouth are creeping into a smile.

Fitness: Habits and Tips to Help you Sing your Best

We chat with New York Vocal Coaching Senior Associate Andy King about fitness for singers.