How to Get Unconventional Gigs That Pay Great


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photo: tatlin

Making your living as a musician is undeniably tough and doesn’t look to be getting easier any time soon.  As such, every performer should be looking to every possible avenue for making money, especially when playing live.

The following article comes from Last Minute Musicians, a proud partner of DMN.

While weddings, clubs and bars are all still very viable options, we at Last Minute Musicians have compiled a list of some of the more unusual gigs you could seek out, with some advice on how to get them.  Don’t forget, these are just a few examples — we’ve seen people perform at some truly weird and wonderful events over the years… so be as prepared as you can be!

House concerts

Many prospective clients would love to hire live entertainment for their event but, for one reason or another, can’t find or afford a suitable venue.  Others simply prefer to hold more unique or personal events and may be lucky enough to have enough space at home for live music.  Lots of larger bands simply can’t accommodate the practicalities of these gigs, and so booking them will usually be less competitive. This means these shows can often be quite lucrative to the right act!

Having a smaller and more flexible set up is always going to be better for these types of events. If a large band is looking to secure these types of bookings, they should begin by considering their set options. Having an acoustic set that’s available for clients to hire will be a lot more popular at house parties, as noise will usually play a factor. Consider ditching the acoustic drum kit in favor of a Cajon or electric kit, and possibly DI’ing electrified instruments to save the space occupied by bulky amplifiers.

In order to secure house concerts, it’s wise to get the word out that you’re prepared to play at them, and introducing the idea to your target audience! Use your mailing list, include the option somewhere on your website and be sure to let any entertainment agents you work with know that you’re prepared to play house gigs.

Small business launches

While large corporations have been hiring entertainment for years, many small businesses are now looking to maximize their impact by hiring musicians for shop opening and product launches.

As small businesses become quirkier and more diverse, they are often looking for music in the background of drinks receptions and mixer/networking events.

The best way to book these kinds of shows is by getting out and about in your local area, perhaps performing at open mic nights and other local venues. This will help build more of a presence in the local community. Similar to house concerts, having a flexible set up will also be key in securing these gigs. Spending some time working on your USP (unique selling point) as a band will also help, as many small businesses will prefer acts with a strong theme that reflects that of their business.


While weddings have always been a popular occasion to hire musicians, a lot people choose to add an air of romance to their proposal by employing a solo musician to perform a couple of meaningful songs. These events can be particularly lucrative in the long term, as there may well be the opportunity for repeat bookings at engagement parties and (of course!) the wedding!

Staying up to date with modern romantic material (and having some promotional demos of the songs) will help secure these gigs. If you’re a pop/rock act, material from the back catalogue of Ed Sheeran, Leon Bridges and Ellie Goulding will be popular, as well as classics from the likes of Eric Clapton and Elton John.

Classical or jazz acts can also help provide a wonderful atmosphere of romance at events, and so should target some of their social media advertising at proposals, perhaps running special offers for valentines day and other popular dates.

Christmas parties

While it’s not uncommon for large companies to put on big events around Christmas time, this can also be the case for much smaller companies. Rather than hiring expensive venues, smaller businesses may well hire musicians to play in the office!

As a musician, these events can be great fun, as there will usually be a more relaxed atmosphere.

Attracting these types bookings can be harder to do, but running some specific promotions and targeted social media adverts in the run up to Christmas time will definitely help. Offer discounts for early bookers and don’t forget to learn a few of the Christmas classics that your audience well definitely want to hear!

Christenings and other religious events

Live music can enhance the atmosphere of all sorts of occasions, and so many people choose to have musicians perform songs that are special to them, rather than putting on a playlist or CD.

While there is no specific way to market for these kinds of events, having a varied enough repertoire to cope is a good place to start. Think about some of the events you have attended in the past – what sort of music suited them best? Have as bigger back catalogue as you can, and try learning or arranging alternate slow or fast versions of songs. You can also try and end up as the “recommended supplier” at some popular venues.

The main way to secure unconventional gigs is by having excellent promotional material. Great quality photographs, videos and audio recordings are all a must, and will help any act generate more enquiries. From all of us at Last Minute Musicians, we wish you the best of luck with your career!

Company Bio

Attention brides & grooms to-be! Your perfect wedding entertainment is just a few clicks away! No matter how unique your theme or creative your ideas, the Last Minute Musicians Directory has over 3300 fantastic and diverse acts for you to choose from.

“The service at LMM was second to none… actually, second only to the utterly fantastic musicians we booked through it.” 

— Lucy, bride

Two professional musicians set up in 2003.  It has since grown into a team of 10 people handling over 50,000 enquiries and dealing with over 70,000 customers… in the last 12 months alone. Visitors can see pictures, read bios, watch videos and listen to audio in order to ensure the act they select is perfect for their special day. Couple this with the independent reviews system, and you can be sure that the entertainment you book will turn your wedding day into an evening everyone will be talking about for years to come!

We also have a huge selection of articles and blogs on how to pick the perfect wedding entertainment, and other advice for your big day. Once you’ve found the perfect band, duo/ small group or solo singer, you can then negotiate with them directly and ensure everyone is happy with booking. is revolutionizing the way people find their wedding entertainment, for the better.

“The key to finding affordable but bespoke musicians when you have around two days’ notice is a website like – you choose the musical genre you fancy, find a band photo that looks good, listen to a few audio examples of your shortlistees, click “book” and they will appear at the right moment, in the right outfit, playing the right music. As if supplied by god.” 

– Emma Freud, The Guardian

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One Response

  1. Victoria Addington

    I am hoping to hire live music for my 24th birthday at home next week. Since this is my first time to organize a house concert, I tried to search for some tips. It’s good that you mentioned having a huge space at home is a must to accommodate guests and flexible set up from the band. Hopefully, my friends and coworkers will come.