Gigging Outside of the Box

Most people who think about trying to support themselves in the local music scene start and end with the bars that feature live music. And there are a bunch. But there’s a lot to be said for reaching audiences that don’t go bar-hopping, too. In my case, I had enough of bar gigs long before I was twenty-five. I still want to play “out,” though. And there are a surprising number of places one can do that, If you look hard enough.

I started listing some on the forum for Independent Christian Musicians. (No, you don’t have to be a Christian to look at the articles there, or even to sign up and contribute.)

Potential places include:

  • House concerts
  • Zoos
  • Flea markets
  • County fairs
  • Methodist churches
  • Libraries
  • Historical recreations
  • Street fairs
  • Farmers’ Markets

For more examples, check out the forum here:

That said, how do you keep track of which real-world venues feature what kinds of music in your “neck of the woods”?

You make a list, using local news sources, venue web pages, etc. This process works for any kind of venue, of course. And because I have friends who play bars, I list those as well.

Within a few weeks, you might have 60 potential bar gigs and 25 potential “out-of-the-box” gigs, complete with the names of acts that the venues typically support. An article describing that process is here:

If you’d like to see something more specific, please use our contact page to get in touch, and I’ll send you the list I put together for the greater Dayton area. No, I don’t expect you to come to Dayton to start your music career, but seeing how many opportunities are potentially available within an hours drive of my house might encourage you to do the same for your community.

Best of luck, and keep in touch,

Paul Race


About Paul

Paul Race has been writing and playing all kinds of music since the 1960s, though he tends to favor acoustic and traditional songs. He has created resources like,, and to help other musicians get a good start on their own journeys.

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