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5 Tips for Good Show Etiquette

WRITTEN BY: Justin Sarachik

One of the best parts of being in a band or being a performer is playing shows. Concerts are your litmus test to show off what you’ve been hard at work at. The rush of being on stage and playing a good show never gets old. However, before and after you get on stage in terms of how you conduct yourself in the eyes of a venue is just as important.

Here are 5 Tips on Good Show Etiquette


You should be the first to arrive and the last to leave. If you want to show a venue or promoter you are serious, get there when they tell you to load in and leave when the show is over. Be there to support all of the acts on the bill and lend a helping hand to others when you can. This goes a long way in building relationships and developing a rapport of excellence with those you work with.

Be Respectful of the Venue, Rules, and Promoter

Every venue is sure to have a particular set of rules you must abide by whether its anything from no smoking to “do not enter” a certain area. Be aware of how you’re conducting yourself. Remember, this is a place of business and you are currently a guest whether you are being paid or not. If you have fans there, make sure they are being respectful to the venue too. Unfortunately, people who come to watch you are also a reflection of you as well.

“I don’t want to book ___ anymore because their fans are rowdy” or “___ is always late to their set” etc.

The Soundman/Bartender/Staff

Always treat the staff well. These are the people that if all goes well, can hook you up in the future. Someone soundmen can be cranky or not helpful, but you have to butter them up. They are the ones who are in charge of what you’re going to sound like when you’re performing. They can make or break your set. Be courteous and make sure you thank them and don’t overburden them with crazy requests.

The bartender or waitress is bringing you drinks and food. Make sure you tip them. Chat it up and interact with them. These people see tons of artists and influencers come through. Some of their regulars might be people you are trying to impress. They may also recommend you to play again or fill empty slots at a show.

Ex: One time a bartender and a cook liked my band so much, they came out to talk to us. We gave the bar guy a shirt and he told us he wears it behind the bar frequently. They play our music at the restaurant sometimes too. That was a connection we made that now gets us free promo.

Backline Equipment

Sometimes at smaller shows, to save time, bands will backline their equipment. That means for example, everyone will play one set of drums, while someone else may provide guitar amps, and so on. If you are using someone else's stuff, you BETTER be there to watch their set no matter what time they go on. They are providing something for you, so the least you can do is support and encourage them. Also, be careful with how you handle their equipment. Don’t be reckless and don’t break it. This is also a way to create friends within a scene and you can trade shows or contacts.

Canceling Performances

It happens, everyone understands this that due to unforeseen circumstances, a show has to be canceled. If possible, you have to let the venue or promoter as soon as possible. The further away from the show the better. One of the best things you can do in canceling a show is to find a replacement. “Don’t worry ___, we aren’t leaving you hanging. Our friends in ___ can fill in for us and you don’t have to scramble for a replacement.” There was a problem and you immediately solved it.

NEVER under any circumstances no show a promoter. That is an automatic black list and people within those circles talk, so you’d be killing your reputation among a large network of people. If you are in a band, and some of your members can’t make it, don’t cancel, do an acoustic show. Maybe the singer can’t come, rock out with some instrumentals or have someone else in the band sing. It won’t be the same experience, but don’t screw people over!

These are just a few ways to have some good show etiquette. There are many other things to do. What are some that you’ve followed over the years? Drop them in the comments.

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