Join the movement

Join the movement!

Join the movement!

How To Be A Great Opening Act

Join the movement!

Must Read

How I Reclaimed Myself After a Decade Long Relationship Ended

For the first couple months of living on my own, I was very unstable. I was living amongst boxes. I couldn’t unpack my former life into my new one until a friend came over and forced me to. I hadn’t quite learned how to stand on my two feet and hold myself up - on my own. I buried myself in work, in community, in live music and occasional sexual explorations which were fun, but confusing. 

Are Spotify Pre-Save Campaigns Worth It? vs. DistroKid vs. vs. Smarturl

You can create a way for fans to save your song to their library or playlist in advance of the release. Why do this? If Spotify notices that your song gets a ton of saves or playlists on day 1, it will trigger their algorithms and potentially pop your song into various algorithmic playlists like Discover Weekly, Radio, Your Daily Mix, Releaser Radar, Radio, etc. And the more saves a song gets, the more likely a Spotify playlist editor will add it to a playlist.

Musicians Aren’t Getting CARES Act Benefits Because of Mixed Income

Last month musicians and other independent contractors got a HUGE win by getting included in the CARES Act benefits...
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

Being the opener for a more established act can be one of the best ways to make new fans. I can pinpoint specific opening gigs where I gained a large amount of fans who are still incredibly supportive to this day. I love opening slots for more established acts because I get to win new audiences over – my specialty. I sometimes prefer playing in front of a room of people who’ve never seen me before over a room full of fans. Sometimes.

In the early stages very few shows will be “opening” or “headlining.” Technically you may be the first band of the night or the last, but unless the headliner is bringing in the serious numbers and the opener isn’t, there isn’t much separation here. One show you may play first, the next 3rd, the next last. The worst thing you can do is act like the headliner – especially in the early stages, when you’re not really headlining but are playing with other local bands who will never forget your douchebaggery. Maybe you’re on top this month but won’t be for long if you keep the attitude up.


+Don’t be a Dick

+Be a Supportive Member of Your Music Community

But when you do get an opening slot for a touring or established act make sure you approach it right. The number one rule about opening is to play a set one minute less than your allocated time slot. Meaning, if you get a 45 minute set, play 44 minutes, pack up your gear quickly and get off stage. I don’t care how good you think you are or how much the audience is loving you, never play long. Even if this is a local show with 4 bands on the bill, it’s just disrespectful to play longer than your time slot. This signals to the other bands that you think you’re better than them and the audience prefers to hear you more than them. This may not actually be the case in your mind, but that’s what this signals.

You have to understand the purpose of being selected to open an established act’s show. The main reason you are on the bill is to bring people out. Even established acts that can get a few hundred out still would like an additional 50 that you could bring as the opener. You’re expected to pull your weight somewhat when asked to open. It also looks good to the headliner’s fans if your fans are in the crowd singing along and enjoying themselves.
+50 Is The Magic Number

Sure the promoter or venue chose you to open the show because you have a similar sound or vibe or something like that, but the reason touring acts ask for a local opener and don’t bring one themselves is because they need the audience buffer with the local’s draw and promo help. Promoters have their ear to the ground; they are living in your city and they feel the pulse of the scene. If you go all out and promote the show that they asked you to open they’ll see this and appreciate it tremendously (because it’s unexpected) and they’ll ask you to open more shows and give you more opportunities. They’ll also be much more willing to help you if you need a venue in the future or a festival spot or something.

I was once asked to open a show for UK star, Sandi Thom, right when she blew up in the UK (but was virtually unknown here). The promoter told me straight up that I needed to bring people because tickets weren’t really selling. This promoter was the biggest promoter in Minneapolis and this was the first opportunity he gave me. I went all out. I printed up 200 posters (on my dime) and plastered downtown Minneapolis and campus (and near where the promoter’s office was of course). I made it sound like the biggest show of my career on my website and Facebook and I talked it up to everyone. I got about 60 people in there – this was very early on in my music career. The promoter was very happy and you know what the next show I was asked to open? The sold out 800 person Joshua Radin show.

+The Hang (coming soon)

About the Author

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

Join the movement!



Red Light Manager on When and How to Get Management with Andrew Leib

Welcome to the New Music Business podcast. Today's guest is my good friend, Andrew Leib. He's an artist manager...

Oprah’s Drummer Madame Gandhi on Feminism, Activism, Music Video Budgets as an Indie Artist

Today's guest is with Madame Gandhi (birth name Kiran Gandhi). She's an incredibly inspiring person, an activist, and feminist. She started her career drumming...

Sexual Harassment, Sexism and Life as a Female DJ in a Male Dominated Field with Dani Deahl

Today's guest is Dani Deahl. She's the music and technology writer for The Verge. In addition to being a journalist, she's a DJ and...

Welcome to The New Music Business with Ari Herstand

Welcome to the New Music Business Podcast! This is my first podcast I've ever hosted and I'm excited...

Zaytoven, ‘Godfather of Trap’ on Production in the Age of Coronavirus

This episode is with superstar Grammy-winning producer and "Godfather of Trap," Zaytoven. He is one of the most influential producers in hip-hop right now....

Related Posts