Gig swapping is one of the easiest ways for a band to not only gain more fans in their home market, but to expand beyond their local music scene. The hard part is taking the time to build the necessary reputation and relationships that make it work for everyone involved, the networking. It takes musicians working together for gig swapping to be an effective tool.
Several Orlando musicians were asked recently in a short email interview about gig swapping and whether it was beneficial to bands. The response was a resounding yes from all those asked, many of them have had great success with it. “We actively seek out gig swapping opportunities. No one knows the scene and venues in the towns you want to play like the locals on the frontline,” said Clifton Garner, drummer in the Orlando band Blaine the Mono.
Gig swapping in town can be an effective tool as well as swapping out of town. “[I’ve] never swapped with an out of town, it’s always been cover gigs in town and it’s helped me make more money,” said Bob Green, an Orlando based singer songwriter and member of Orlando bands Ivory Crown and Whiskey Conspiracy.
“I think gig swapping is inevitable given our strong music community,” said Paul Schiebold, singer/songwriter for Orlando based band Vova Zen. “We don’t share a gig so much as we share fans. Gig-swapping may be seen as cliquish and insular, but it’s actually a good scene builder. We have played with The Actomatics and Eight Stories High enough to know their music and spread the word to our fans when promoting gigs with them. It’s important for more established bands to swap gigs with new bands.”
Gig swapping can help newer bands get established. “Control This! has only been around for about a year and already we have swapped gigs with bands in Gainesville, Tampa, Sarasota, and South Florida,” said Jeff Richey Orlando band Control This! and co-founder of Florida SKA Events. Then he added, “Many of our out of town gigs are a result of swapping, and since we work closely with a local promoter and have good contacts here we can offer strong gigs in return, making our out of town experiences better.”
In order for gig swapping to be successful, certain factors do need to fall into place. “Gig swapping only works if both bands have their own followings in their home market,” said Kevin Maines of Orlando band The Violent 5. “The point is to expose your audience to the incoming band and pick up their fans when you go there. So if you gig swap, make sure you can pull a crowd in your home turf or they won’t want to swap again with you and vice versa.”
“Show swaps can be hit or miss,” said Zachary Teman, bassist for Orlando band A Brilliant Lie. “You don’t always know what you’re walking into or setting yourself up for. Have faith and good things will follow. I think that every band that we have swapped out with has been pretty happy on our end as far as crowd delivery and expenses met. We try for the best venues available but working with touring bands, you can’t always get what you want. That’s when you have to rise to the occasion and make due with what you’ve got, what’s available. It does sting me a little bit when we have provided a good draw and proper expenses at a reputable venue and the favor isn’t returned. But shit happens and that’s life, get over it.”