When you’re gearing up for a performance, it can be easy to lose track of small details. After all, indie musicians have to handle every aspect of their careers by themselves and that can be overwhelming. Between the booking, promotion, gear transportation, and general excitement of playing a show, things can get overlooked.

It’s important to stay organized since small details can make all the difference. A checklist can be a good way to stay on top of your game on show days. Here are some details you may want to consider putting on your checklist.

Promotion: don’t assume that just because you play a show people will be there. You need to hustle to get attendees. Make sure you promote your shows on your social media outlets, your website, via your mailing list (I strongly suggest getting one set up), press releases to local publications, print flyers, and let all of your interested friends know personally. Word of mouth is powerful.

Schedule: know when you need to be at the venue for load in and sound check, what your set time is and what the other artists’ set times are. Make sure you stick to the schedule and be punctual. This will go a long way towards being invited back to play again and the sound-person and booker will appreciate it.

Gear: you may want to make a separate checklist for your gear. Do you have all of your instruments, lights, stage effects, extra picks and sticks, your merch, banners, and any other miscellaneous items packed up? You don’t want to get to the gig and realize you left something behind, especially if you are playing out of town.

Venue communication: talk to your contact at the venue a few days prior to the show and make sure no changes have been made. Confirm the schedule and any details about the show. This will avoid confusion and frustration. It is also just a good habit to develop.

Your plan: know when you will get to the venue and what needs to get done when you arrive. Does it take 45 minutes to unpack your gear? Better account for that. Is it likely you will get distracted by a fan that wants to chat? Plan for it. Also know your set list and how your performance is supposed to go. Then stick to the plan!

Responsibilities: if you can delegate any tasks to your band members or crew/fans, know who should be doing what. If the drummer needs more time to unload his gear than the singer, have the singer set up your merch or your lights. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Merch: having a nice merch display can be a huge benefit as physical goods can represent a large portion of your earnings from a show. Make sure you are stocked up on your items and that everything looks nice. People might not want to buy a wrinkled shirt that has been dropped and wadded up into a mess. Get everything laid out nicely and have a way to accept payment (Square/Paypal or, if you only do cash, make sure you have change).

Contact: make sure people know how to get ahold of you (fans and venue staff) and get other people’s contact info as well. Again, work that mailing list. Also get the booker or promoter’s contact information so you can follow up later and talk about the gig and future opportunities if needed.

Other details: how much are you getting paid and who is responsible for collecting money? Are you coordinating your outfits or clothing? Is there anything else expected of you besides playing music? Know all of this and any other details before you head for the show.

That’s a lot to keep track of but bringing your A game can go a long way towards how people perceive you as a performer. It’s not just about music, it’s about being a professional. Make your list and get to it! If you have other suggestions, feel free to join the conversation in the comments. Sign up below to get a free copy of our PDF guide to advancing your music career or follow Squatchful on Facebook.


Educated but self-effacing, opinionated but reticent, and unabashedly eccentric; Alex aka Squatch is the lead writer for Squatchful.com. A life-long musician, he founded the blog in the interest of helping independent artists gain exposure and to provide insight into navigating the creative arts industry.

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