When we started Red Sky a little more than a year ago we were thinking that after practicing and a lot of legwork and schmoozing we might get a paying gig or two around town.
Within a couple of months we played at some open mics at the Black Diamond and then played a free gig at the Orange Inn. That free gig led to a lot more paying gigs because we were considered "legit" at that point.
The next hurdle was getting repeat gigs at venues. That would show that we are at least entertaining, and at most drawing a crowd. We have learned that some places expect bands to bring them customers to justify being there. Others bring in bands to get customers to show up. We find that the second premise works best for us at our infancy stage, since we are very good, but still developing a following.
We decided at that point to stop doing free gigs except the occasional benefit. One exception to that was to play at a women's soccer game this summer. Little did we know...
I will never forget Sunday July 22 2013 when our soundman, Steve, said "Guys - I never expected to be doing this in my life!" referring to setting up for our first stadium show in Rochester NY. Not to mention getting taped for possible TV broadcast and seeing ourselves on Fox Sports the next day.
How did this happen? Well, it didn't just happen. Red Sky has been practicing and playing out consistently for a year now. We have built up the skills, equipment and confidence on top of the talent already there. We know that if we reach out for a grab at an opportunity we can make the most of it. In this case it was being aware that there was an opportunity to be had - this was not an advertised gig. It came from inboxing a sports team on Facebook and having an online package together to represent us.
We also got to give away game tickets to fans and supports and enjoy most of the game with our families. We got mentions on all advertisements and placements - radio, TV, news heard "Red Sky" all day when the game came up.
And we unknowingly auditioned for potential gigs for other teams that play at the stadium, and at least two booking agents that contacted us in person after the game.
So we are careful how we define "free"