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Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Friday, 23 July 2010 14:10 UK
Suffolk bands on the pitfalls of getting London gigs

By Anna Dobbie
BBC Suffolk

Stefan Vincent, The Cads, at BBC Suffolk Introducing at The Swan, Ipswich
The Cads live on BBC Suffolk Introducing at Ipswich's Swan

Booking gigs can be intimidating for Suffolk's new bands.

Once you've got a local fan base, performing further afield is vital, but has potential pitfalls.

Promoters are often reluctant to book unfamiliar artists, a 'catch-22' situation for acts struggling to build up a reputation.

"Basically, you're asking someone to take a punt on you," said Ipswich solo artist Benjamin Bloom.

"If you're unknown, they have no reason to book you other than to give you an opportunity.

"When people give you an opportunity, you have to put as much effort into getting people along, putting on a good show and promoting the gig as you possibly can.

"You need to have an active Facebook and MySpace, live videos and show your work ethic through your online presence.

"I think thick skin is the most important thing. If you send twenty approaches, one might book you.

"Just keep chipping away and, in the end, if you're good, you'll get work."

Latitude attitude

The Cads have played at the Latitude festival, but even they have found it difficult to book gigs outside Suffolk.

"We had a couple of offers in London where they asked us to bring 50 people," said James Brown from the band. "But getting coaches together would have cost too much money.

"We got played on Radio 1 and then we got offered a gig at Proud Gallery in Camden because the promoter heard us.

"You need to get as much radio exposure as you can because lots of people listen every day - including promoters!"

MC for hip-hop collective Millionaires by Morning, Scott French, has experienced hostility when gigging outside of Suffolk.

"Some people are hugging the walls and you've got to prove yourself - they'd rather put you down than have a good time," he said.

When trying to book a gig, Scott advises humility: "The best way is by getting in contact with people without the intention of getting a gig - no one wants to be plastered with requests.

"There's only so much you can do in Ipswich - you really don't know how good you are until you step out.

"You can tell if you've done a good show by the number of strangers that come up to you."

Ideals at The Swan
Ideals, formerly known as It's A Trap, at The Swan

Ideal gigs

Even well-established Suffolk act Ideals initially had problems in the capital, according to the band's Andrew Major.

"We had one really bad instance where if you don't sell a certain amount of tickets, you have to pay the difference between the tickets you didn't sell and the ones you did sell so we had to pay the venue to play - it was horrible," said Andrew.

"London's generally the place they make you sell tickets - further north the promoters get nicer.

"Then you get to Scotland and they get worse again!

"Promoters are always looking for bands, that's their job, so hopefully they'll say yes.

"It's a long process to get a national following. It'll take a year or two."

Well-travelled bears

Angry Vs The Bear's Darren Barker has performed as far afield as the South by South West Festival in Texas.

His advice is to tour supporting a single release.

Angry vs the Bear keyboard player Patrick Monahan and singer Mitzi Fox
Angry Vs The Bear live in session at BBC Essex in Chelmsford

"Ensure people can contact you and, just as importantly, know how to contact them yourself," said Darren.

"When you return, they might bring a friend, then the next time, those friends bring people.

"We tend to not have too much trouble in the south [of England], but further north, because we're more electro and they're very guitar based, it's a bit harder."

Being good

Jay Goodrich, bass player for Ipswich's The B.Goodes, said one approach is to contact promoters who have booked similar artists before.

"Chances are, if the promoters are putting them on, they'll want to put you on - it's as simple as that!" he said.

"Once, in another band we did a gig in Worcester on a Tuesday night - who really goes out on Tuesday night?

"It might be a good gig, but with our band we try to limit it to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"Maybe we miss some gigs but the gigs we do play are well attended."

Jay also advises bands to set themselves a limit: "Do gigs within a hundred miles, but if you get offered something in Liverpool, think about it.

"You can't take on the world straight away!"




SEE ALSO
Review: Latitude Festival 2010
20 Jul 10 |  Arts & Culture
Review: Maverick Festival 2010
06 Jul 10 |  Arts & Culture
In pictures: Ipswich Music Day, 2010
05 Jul 10 |  BBC Introducing
In pictures: Live in Suffolk's pubs
26 Feb 10 |  BBC Introducing
We'll be Millionaires by Morning
18 Feb 10 |  BBC Introducing
In pictures: Angry vs the Bear
16 Feb 10 |  BBC Introducing
BBC Suffolk Introducing: The Cads
03 Nov 09 |  BBC Introducing

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