You Should Have an Opening Band!!!!

You Should Have an Opening Band!!!!

I see a horrible trend happening in the local music scene. NO OPENER!!!! most of the time I see just one band playing all night. There are a few reasons why bands are now forgoing having an opening band. Money, time and bar request. There are many more added benefits to having an opener- more fans, good will, better show, experience, helping the scene, groupies(hmm maybe not) and networking. Having an opening band is not just a favor to the opening band as lots of people see it. In this article we will address all your concerns and explain exactly why YOUR BAND should have an opener at your next show.


One of the main reasons bands do not have openers is the money. Bands don’t want to split the 60, or 100 or 300 or 500 bucks they are getting that night with MORE people than the 4 or 5 people in their band. I can understand that. After hours of practice, booking a gig, drinking beer, dodging your girlfriend and lugging your gear to a show… you don’t want to share your share of the share of shared payment with more people. However, let’s look at the real numbers.(skip ahead to the ***** if you hate math and freedom) Most gigs in town pay $300 at a bare minimum and some/most tie your payment in with the draw at the door. Even the ones who pay a flat rate will not have your band back if you don’t bring enough people in the door. Let’s use as an example a venue that pays you with the door- 3 buck cover for each person who comes in and it all goes to you. We will use a number of 75 people coming in the door not because of your band but because they like the bar and just happen to show up cause they like beer. We will also add in 75 people that your band draws into the venue. That gives you 150 people and a payment of $450. Not a bad night’s work. NOOOOWWWWW-Let’s pretend you have an opener. That opener is not going to impact the 75 people you draw or the 75 who were coming anyways but WILL add fans of their own that come to see just them. How many people will they draw? Well, if you select your opener correctly they should bring at LEAST their girlfriends, two friends and their girlfriends’ more attractive roommate- meaning 15 extra people. 15 people at 3 bucks are an extra 45 bucks for the night. Toss those 45 bucks at the opener. I mean – really toss it at them. Crumple it up and discard it at their feet and command them to dance(don’t really). ********This will mean, you got an opener for NO COST(welcome back math haters). The money issue is NOT an issue.


Why would you want an opener if all it did was reduce the time you get to play! Your band has practiced for years, working up a 4 or 5 hour set of songs and you want the audience to hear them all; even that ironic cover of some stupid 80’s tune that you think is funny but the audience doesn’t. Do you really want to cut into YOUR performance time? YES, yes you do. Every band has their best songs, their less then best songs, their ok songs, their bad songs and the one the drummer wrote that you play sometimes out of pity. Your goal is to spread out your best songs and pepper in the others to fill space. (if you are delusional and think all your band’s songs are the best ones, then you need to take a better look at your music). If you have an opener filling 30 minutes to an hour of that time; you can avoid using a few of your bad songs and you also get the pleasure of telling your drummer “sorry buddy, no time tonight for your heartfelt ballad on the harshness of being color blind”.


Some venues do not want you to have an opening band because they booked you, not your friend’s calypso steam punk band. It is at this point you need to do two things- First make sure the band you are asking to open for you is good… 2nd- talk to the booker- explain the advantages of having an opener- “Look Mr. Bar-owner… Musicians drink, they drink a lot.. think about the extra beer sales generated from the extra 5 musicians in your club- not to mention the extra people they will bring to buy more beer.” Bar owners see music as potential beer sales and nothing more. If a band sucks but that band brings beer drinkers- they will be booked. So always explain to bookers and owners from the standpoint of making them MORE money.


Remember earlier in this article when we talked about those 15 friends the opener will bring? Well, guess what- Those 15 people are going to see YOU play too! Those are 15 people that would not have heard you otherwise and you should be able to turn those 15 people into new fans. SO, next time you play instead of drawing 75 people, you might draw 77 people. Compound that over a few shows and by the end of the year you might have added 20 extra people to your draw. Not to mention the fact that the other band will be so appreciative for letting them open for you that they will go to your next three shows. If you only ever play with yourself you will not get exposed to new music lovers and will also get hairy palms.

GOOD WILL- You were once a new band trying to struggle to get gigs at venues. Why not do for other bands what you wish bands did for you. The nicer you are to other bands, the nicer other bands will be to you. It is all one big circle man; spread the love and pass the J.


You have an audience there to see you perform. You are not a record player or a CD player or even an 8 track- You are putting on a LIVE SHOW. If you have not figured out yet that you are not background; now is the time to figure that out. Having an opening band adds to the show that people are paying to see.


By having opening bands you get to meet other bands. These bands will introduce you to other bands and more musicians. Guess what segment of the population goes to the most shows? People in bands and musicians. By meeting and getting to know more musicians, you are increasing the number of people who will come to your shows.

In closing-

Do you need an opening band? Nah- if you are happy playing in your jazz trio as a backing to people eating dinner- Forget everything I said above. If you are in a band that is happy playing the same 4 venues to the same 50 people(that seem to dwindle year by year)- Forget everything I said above. If you are in a band and want to grow your fan base and play bigger shows and maybe put out a record that is played on the radio…. Get a F*&%ing opening band…. Oh, and learn yourself some math.


Read Other 5 Questions with...

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Kyle Webber- Ghost Dinner Band

Scott Solsky- BRABSE

Drew Hines - Tyler Road

Bobby Rice- Pat and The Hats

Chris Noyes - Dusty Gray Band

Jeoff Jarnot - The Joint Chiefs

Steve Mcbrian – Crunchy Western Boyss
Local bands you should checkout-
Dusty Gray Band,Boogie On Alice, The Ghost Dinner Band
The Van Burens
, The 123's, Juliana Cable, Kitchen, The Ron Noyes Band, Diamond Joe, Lucas Gallo, Crunchy Western Boys, BRASBE, Charlie Chamberlain, Run Gazelle Run, Tyler Road, Ways To Fall, Gorilla Finger Dub Band, Yankee Cockfight

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