How to Book Your First Show as a Rapper


written by: Dwayne N.

For any, and every aspiring musical prodigy, the road to success is a daunting one. Everybody wants to make it big and see their names in the spotlight, but not everybody has what it takes to make that dream of fame a reality. 

The musical industry, in four words, is survival of the fittest. You can have the ambitions and mindset, but if your tactics are lacking, so will your attempts to stardom.

Luckily, we know some game plans that will keep you afoot ahead of the competition as well as in the minds of music producers.

Road Map To Booking A Gig

So, how exactly does one book shows as a rapper?

Being an independent rap artist, you need to be fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead of booking your own shows. The journey is hardly ever easy — especially with the reality of being all that you got when it comes to scheduling a gig. So, it is your job to spread the word regarding your upcoming event(s). 

It is indeed a lot of pressure dancing with a high risk of failure. Keep in mind, however, that one successful show can lead to an abundance of offers from BIG NAME producers.

Local Scene

Starting locally will prevent you from spending on major expenses as well as get you noticed. Scanning the scenery of restaurants and bars within your town is highly recommended, because it grants you an opportunity to figure out

A.) Where you fit in.

B.) Understand the type of demographics which shares your interest which you rap about.

Collect contact information of the owner and a few staff members, and share a link of some of your work, precisely the most recent of your collections. Allow a day or two to pass before reaching out to them once again. You don’t want to come off as desperate.

A key note to remember: A little confidence goes a long way! When approaching venue managements, do not wonder what you should expect from them. Rather, release your alter ego and acknowledge the fact that it is not what you should be expecting from them, but instead what they should expect from you as an artist. 

It does wonders if you already have some potential venues in mind, and if you so happen to be a regular at some of these locations—well that is just the cherry on the sundae.

Creating a Brand

It doesn’t require the brain of Einstein to know that technology is overtaking the world as it is. This is why it is necessary for you, an up and coming rap artist, to already have an EPK (electronic press kit) that is professionally developed. The kit should consist of the following;

  1. A high-quality audio sample to grasp the attention of venue owners and other artists alike. Having a demo handy will do you justice.

  2. A visual introduction of yourself, artwork, or a music video.

  3. Reviews or press whether local or larger. Show people that the buzz has started and they’re better off to jump on board of your brand sooner than later.

Furthermore, doing gigs will improve your promotional materials, because it will leave you at the center of locals’ conversations. This will allow locals to anticipate your next show or perhaps better review your work online.

The reviews, however, take time. Provide brief summaries of your projects. You can also create appealing flyers and post around for more local advertising.

PRO-TIP: Although making t-shirts and other physical merchandise seems like an appealing business move, focus your energy and time on the digital products (EPK) and performances until the money or business partner is there to help facilitate that aspect.

Putting Social Media To Good Use

Properly marketing yourself through social media is another way of staying one step ahead of the game. Social media is indeed the largest online tool for aspiring artists. Consider two big name artists, Cardi B and DJ Khaled, and how they stay relevant via social media

DJ Khaled, although, already a well-known artist, is constantly marketing himself as well as promoting something. With his motto being “positivity,” he is regularly sharing with us how great his life is and encouraging us to stay optimistic about it.

Cardi B, on the other hand, took up social media far before her fame. Posting about her everyday struggles as much as on other relatable topics. She always found new ways to vocalize her thoughts, all while remaining true to herself.

The higher your follower base increases, the more humbly ambitious you can become with your bookings. Be sure to schedule gigs in venues with high capacity rate for people to turn up, go live, and of course, produce more profit for the owner.


Determining your financial goals will have you asking questions such as;

  • “How will you promote your gig and music?”

  • “How will you go about distributing that music?”

  • “Is a website the way to go, or should you ride it out with the flyers instead?”

Once you have jotted down a list of your goals, consider all the possible expenses you will need to keep track of.

This includes full recordings as well as digital distributions of your music on Soundcloud and iTunes.

Keep in mind that these digital audio files of your work can come in handy when negotiating with venue managements regarding show bookings.

Projecting Income

This is everybody’s favorite part of budgeting, simply because it is all about adding money to your pocket instead of subtracting. To estimate your projected income from a show, take into consideration how often you want to be a regular at this venue. Also remember, the more customers you appeal to, the higher the owner’s profit will increase, and so will your overall pay. It will also determine whether they hire you to be a regular at their venue.

Relying on your potential income, you should attempt to invest a minimum of at least forty to fifty percent of it to your music career. It’s those minor sacrifices you will have to make if you plan on pursuing a rap career for the remainder of your golden years.


Self-managing your own music career is indeed stressful as it seems. However, with the proper managing skills, you can beat the odds. Best of luck!


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