FAQ: Tips For Musicians
Music Victoria seeks to arm artists with the requisite skills to run their music careers as successful and sustainable small businesses.
For heaps of info on Copyright for musicians check out Music Matters here for their handy guides.
Guide for Filmmakers – This is a guide for filmmakers looking to include music in their film
Guide for Sampling – This is a guide if you are a musician or DJ looking to sample music
Guide for Musicians – This is a guide if you are a musician looking to protect your music
How do I get a gig?
Approach live music venues – you’re after the venue’s booker.
If you’re having trouble with venues, try organising a full line up and then taking that to the venue. Think of some bands you know and would stylistically work well with if you were sharing a stage, and suggest a full line up to a venue.
Approach bands you like who you may or may not know. Hopefully if you like their music there’s going to be some common ground between your band and theirs, and it’d make sense for you to play together. Go for a band that’s maybe a little bit more well-known than yours, so you can play to their crowd and grow your fanbase. Aim small. Don’t expect to be playing Rod Laver Arena first off – try your local pub with a band you’ve already seen play there to start with.
Enter some band comps. They’re a great place to develop your skills, build an audience, and get comfortable on stage.
Give open mic nights a try. The more you play live when you’re just starting out, the better. And play around – don’t just play the same venue. The more audiences you play to, the more chances you have of building your audience. You’ll also come to the attention of more venue bookers.
Book a gig yourself. Find a venue, book the room, and put a show on yourself. This doesn’t have to be a pub – it could be a community hall, a cafe, a bowling club, a chicken shop or a steam train. Use your initiative.
Looking at planning and booking your own gig? Check out the X Festival: Do It Yourself Gigs book via MusicNSW / Indent.
Check out the Legal Resources section of the Music Victoria website for a list of entertainment lawyers and businesses who can help you with your legal questions surrounding music and the music industry.
You can also contact the Arts Law Centre of Australia for more information and free legal advice.
Please note: the information on this and any page on this website does not constitute legal advice. We’re not lawyers. Talk to one if you’re unsure.
For more on legal issues, check out the legal pack from the Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN).
What’s a booking agent? Do I need one?
There will probably be a time when you are booking for yourself, however when you are ready, a good booking agent may help you to make the most of the live scene and build up the profile for your act in the best possible way.
A booking agent is a person dedicated to booking shows for you or your band. The Australian Music Industry Directory is a good resource when you are looking for booking agents. However, a booking agent isn’t going to come on board unless they can see that there is something in it for them so you need to show them that you are worth their while.
Before considering travelling internationally to attend or showcase at one of the many, very valuable international showcase and conference events, we highly recommend identifying the objectives you have for your attendance and how you realistically intend on meeting those objectives.
Once you’ve done that and you’re satisfied the result – talk with Sounds Australia about the value of your attendance. They are your music export friends.
Below is a list of key showcase events internationally. Keep in mind there are many more – some offering quite a niche industry audience that may be more appropriate for what you’re hoping to achieve.
MIDEM (Cannes, France) – JAN
Folk Alliance International (Kansas, USA) – FEB
Canadian Music Week (Toronto, Canada) – MAR
SXSW – South By Southwest (Austin, USA) – MAR
Jazzahead! (Bremen, Germany) – APR
Classical:NEXT (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) – MAY
The Great Escape (Brighton, UK) – MAY
Liverpool Sound City (Liverpool, UK) – MAY
All That Matters (Singapore) – JUN
NXNE – North By Northeast (Toronto, Canada) – JUN
Primavera Pro (Barcelona, Spain) – JUN
A2IM (New York, USA) – JUN
CMJ Music Marathon (New York, USA) – OCT
Iceland Airwaves (Reykjavík, Iceland) – OCT
Culture Collide (San Fran & LA, USA) – OCT
WOMEX (Galicia, Spain) – OCT
Americana (Nashville, USA) – SEPT
Reeperbahn Festival (Hamburg, Germany) – SEPT
Several funding bodies offer support for market development in international territories. Have a look at our Grants and Funding page for organisations who can offer assistance with international touring.
How do I approach a venue?
It’s a good idea to have a demo and a basic press kit before you start approaching venues. Give them an idea of what you sound like, where you’d fit in a bill, and if you’ll fit in with their venue.
When you are booking your own tours you need to make sure you thoroughly research the venues in the areas you are touring to and make sure they are appropriate for your act – there is no use approaching a venue that doesn’t suit your style of music or is too big, or even too small, for your act.
If you are emailing or calling a venue make sure you are clear about what you want. Be polite, be professional and most importantly know what you are talking about. The venue will need to know about you – what kind of music you play (have a demo ready for them), where you have played before, and how many people came.
A demo should contain about three songs and should be a good representation of the act. The demo doesn’t have to be fully produced but must be a good quality.
Check out a list of Victorian venues here.
Tax & financial issues
What’s a manager? Do I need one?
A manager is your key to the music industry. They’re the person who will help you navigate the music industry from labels to publishers, booking agents to publicists, and everyone in between. But a manager isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of self-managed artists who have enjoyed great success, and if you’re just starting out learning about the industry and managing your own affairs is highly recommended. ARIA-nominated singer-songwriter Jen Cloher holds regular self-management courses called ‘I Manage My Music’.
You can find more information on managers and management agreements over in our Music Industry Legal Pack.
How do I book a tour?
Booking a tour takes time and, most importantly, organisation. You need to establish where you want to go, when you want go and how much can you afford to spend on the tour. If you aren’t prepared for a tour then you are asking for trouble before you begin.
It’s also important to note that there’s no point heading out on a tour if no-one knows you are coming. So put your head down and plan. One of the aims of the tour is more than likely to play to as many people as possible and to build your fan base. A good show will bring the people back and will mean the venue will want you back – good organisation and communication will be the keys to making this happen.
Do I need to register a business name?
In order to carry on a business in Victoria, you must register your business’ name with ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission).
Please note that registering a Business Name will not give you any exclusive rights to that name. So any other person that wants to use it is legally fine to do so. If you want exclusive rights, you should register the name as a trade mark through IP Australia.