I don't blame you for being skeptical. Yes, I'm assuming that you are reading this post because you are looking for a truthful review about the Gigmasters service. Let me immediately point out that we have absolutely no affiliation with Gigmasters. We are not paid or compensated in any way for the information we post.
The ONLY reason this article exists is because I am a member of Gigmasters, and wanted to share my thoughts on the service for those who are considering giving it a try. With that said, if you are looking for a complete and honest review, you have found the right place.
Before I say anything about their services, I would like to talk about a stigma that exists with musician services. Nowadays if you search for musician services online, you are going to be bombarded with choices. Every one of which claims to be "the only and the best" of its kind. Unfortunately, this can devalue the credibility of similar services. It certainly damages the authenticity. But aside from the mass competition that may exist, there is a stronger cause that stirs trouble when it comes to gauging how well an online promotional service works; the artists/musicians who use them.
To be blunt, there are too many unqualified musicians out there. I am not trying to offend anyone, but it is important to distinguish between those who "want" to be a musician from those who have actually spent time mastering their craft and become a "musician." Why? Because if you are asking someone to pay for your product, you need to have a product that the client feels is worth paying for.
Like they say, "A team is only as good as it's weakest member." This can be said for the relationship of a music service and the artist who is using it. Gigmasters is no exception. I have viewed many profiles, and thought to myself, "Wow. That is not very good." Not surprisingly, those were the artists who had not booked any or many gigs. On the flip-side, I have seen profiles that have been hired for many gigs, and thought, "Wow. They have their music AND presentation together."
If you are considering paying for a service, please don't take it on half-heartedly, expecting to do little to no work and have the system do everything for you. I'm not saying Gigmasters does not make things easier. Just be prepared to put some time and professionalism into this, and you will have much better results. Gigmasters does not create better musicians, it creates more opportunities for everyone that uses their service.
OK… Since that is out of the way, lets move on.
Gigmasters is divided into three pricing plans; Basic, Professional, and Gold. The differences in each include location radius, categories/genres, storage space, and of course the price you pay for it. Here is a pricing chart as of 2/26/2012.
- Travel Radius – This means that customers are more likely to find you if you are within the travel radius from the event's location. Being within a 3000-mile travel radius (as per the Gold Membership) is absolutely going to get you more views. But, if you aren't prepared to travel 3000 miles, then what is the point?
A good thing to note is that Gigmasters allows you to set a specific travel cost for the client to pay. This distinction between your performance cost and the travel/lodging cost is important, as the client may already have arrangements of their own for you. This allows them to hire you for your performance cost, and provide their own travel/living arrangements.
But again, If you are assuming that this plan will land you gigs where you can travel the world, with travel and lodging expense paid for, you better be sure that your musical performances are that good. And even more importantly, you'll need to be able to prove that in your profile.
Looking at the Basic Membership, I don't feel like a 100-mile travel radius is all that much. I am personally ready to sit in the car for 2 or 3 hours, and still charge a fair rate, without having to ask the client to put up money for travel or loding. This all depends on you.
I signed up for the Professional Membership. The problem I have had with Travel Radius is that many of the gigs that have come my way have been for special occasions that only require an hour of music. Usually (in such cases) the client is not looking to spend that much money for a 1-hour performance. I do not want to drive 3 hours to a venue and 3 hours back for a show that only pays a minimal amount. When I have bid on such events, I charged more than I normally would, and did not get the gig, as they usually end up hiring someone in their area for less money.
- Categories and Genres – These are part of the filtering system that is used by clients to find you. There are many genres/styles associated with a category. The category is the main definition of who you are (ex. Solo Performer, Band, Dancer, etc.) The important thing here is that the categories and genres are not extra redundant for the purpose of getting an artists to upgrade. These categories and genres are pretty clear and to the point. I found that 12 Categories/Genres was plenty for me. Which brings up a good point…
Quite often, I have seen artists list their music in directories, choosing every possible genre that they could. In their minds, they are thinking more genres equals more exposure. This is true only up to the point that you are still correctly identifying yourself. Choose the categories/genres that accurately describe you and not by what you think will gather the most views. What good is a visitor if they are unqualified for what your selling?
Note: You are able to choose one category, and then a multiple amount of genres that fit that category. I am able to play as a solo performer and as a band (I have a duo act.) But, I was not able to choose both. I understand why – Accuracy in matching is extremely important. This is what keeps Gigmasters a credible service to both the performers and the clients. If you are hoping to promote more than one act/band, you owe it to yourself to set up additional accounts, and try to ensure that they do not overlap each other. They should both be distinct to capture the right audience.
The problem with my account, is that my acts are not all that distinct. I can play the same songs as a solo performer or as a duo. This can make quite a difference in the sound, but having two profiles would likely overlap quite a bit in the search results, and I'm not sure it would be worth the money to pay for two accounts.
- Storage – Pretty self-explanatory. You can host your videos and music on the Gigmasters site. In fact, by doing so, you'll attract more views, as an icon shows up in the search results to let clients know which performers have videos, mp3, and other features available. However, I've found that with the great compression that an mp4 file can create, I do not need to host every song I've ever recorded to give the client an idea of what I can do. Pick some of your best material, and upload it.
You've Signed Up. Now What?
Now is not the time to be lazy. After all, you just paid money. Don't let it go to waste. Gigmasters provides a status bar that indicates how complete your profile is, and it advises you on what you should do to have a full profile that will gather more results. I found this process very easy. In fact, you can even import your song list via CSV, and have it parsed and formatted in the Gigmasters display. This can be a great benefit for those who want to list all their material without entering all the information one song at a time.
You'll be able to set your pay-range (how much you are willing to work for) to help ensure that the leads you receive are accurate, qualified leads. With the dashboard, you can provide a full description, testimonials, past and future shows, group members and more. It will build a complete profile and create a nice display page with the information. The URLs are configurable. This means you can change the words in the URL that point to your profile page.
With my own profile, it is marked as about 90% complete by Gigmasters. But it is not done as well as it should be. When I have the opportunity to provide more professional material (pictures, videos, etc.) I will update the profile accordingly. It makes a BIG difference. I know this by viewing other profiles and the amount of gigs that they have booked.
Much of the information you provide is used to ensure that the leads you receive are qualified. Not only is this a convenience for you, but also to the clients looking for performers. By creating a great profile, you'll be sure to get more qualified leads and less waiting time.
Matching Clients With Performers
Gigmasters does a pretty good job with matching. Most of the leads I receive, are suitable matches. I do wish that there were a way to better match the amount you are willing to play for based on criteria such as travel and performance time. As I said earlier, I wouldn't travel 3 hours for a 1-hour show. In most cases a low performance time is going to mean less money. However, I would be happy to travel 3 hours for a 4-hour show (in most cases) because the client is then usually prepared to pay more money due to the length of the performance. Most of the leads I have rejected have been for this reason.
The other problem I have had with leads is due to one of the genres I selected for myself (wedding band.) This seems to be a bit vague, as many people have different expectations when it comes to a wedding band. The term "wedding band" does not clearly identify if the client is looking for music for a wedding ceremony or reception. A ceremony is likely to require classical music (usually on an organ,) whereas reception parties often require something more hip, like Top 40 music.
I'm Ready! How Long Must I Wait For A Lead?
There is no single answer to that. It depends on several factors. But here's the good thing. The way I have come to understand the system is that you'll receive an alert, before the client actually views your profile. This is good for a few reasons – you are going to get more alerts, and you can use your response time as a factor to getting the gig. It's not always "first come, first served," but by showing immediate interest, you'll have a better chance of getting the gig. Remember, the client may be anxious to make arrangements. A performer who waits a week to submit their bid is less likely to win.
Other things to consider are the time of season. Depending on what kind of performer you are, there may be busy and slow seasons. As an example, there are many weddings in June or in the summer time, compare to winters. In general, I've found winter seasons to be slower for booking (not just at Gigmasters.) Many of the venues I play at don't attract the same kind of business in the winter time. People don't like to go out in the cold, or drive on dangerous snowy roads. Also, many of the venues I play at offer outdoor eating/drinking locations where they like to have their music. These are usually closed in the winter, unless you live in an area that stays warm throughout the winter months.
I live in a very rural area. There are not many clubs and events in this immediate area. Although I have expanded my travel radius to cover the Chicago-land area, I have received approx. 30 leads within a 3-month time frame.
You will most likely receive feedback, based on your performance. It is to your best advantage to keep it all positive. Higher feedback will help you attract more leads. The feedback received affects the 5 star rating, but not how high a performer shows up in search results. The default search pulls a best match, which is based on location, category, and total booking dollars earned in the past 6 months through GigMasters. However, clients are able to sort the results by a variety of criteria, so that they can find what is most important to them. This includes the option to sort by rating (based on feedback) so be polite and professional with your clients! As a new musician, who has no feedback yet, you will have a "New Member" badge. This remains for 90 days, but you can remove it at any time. I think it is helpful, as it draws attention and clarifies why you might not have feedback yet.
For me, I feel the time at Gigmasters has been a good start during the slow season in my area. With spring time approaching, I am beginning to see more leads come in. I am very pleased that I can recuperate my 3-month subscription fee and earn an income with just one booking. But I want and expect more than that. And to make that happen, I will leave it to myself to tweak my settings and put together a more attractive profile.
If you have some time, look at profiles of bands like your own. Look at the performers who have booked several shows through Gigmasters. Try to create a similar presentation in regards to professionalism. The videos I have supplied are of horrible quality from a camcorder in my living room. Whereas a professional video makes a HUGE difference. I plan to pay some money and have someone create better promotional material.
You might be wondering what happens if a serious problem arises. I am glad that I don't have a good answer to that. What I can tell you is that Gigmasters gives you the option of requiring a non-refundable deposit. This is good for the client and the performer. In fact, I had a client once that demanded that I accept a deposit. She wanted to be sure that we would not back out. Providing the ability to pay a deposit gave her the assurance she wanted. In addition, Gigmasters also provides an optional contract that can be generated from your control panel.
I do not know what happens if a gig falls apart due to the client or performer. It's not something I really want to find out about. I do know that Gigmasters has an "Experience Team." I suspect that they are the people to contact if some sort of intervention is required.
Gigmasters takes 5% of the money you charge the client. You have the option of requesting that the client pay that 5%, or if you will cover it. Both have their advantages. Depending on the amount, the 5% could be significant enough that the client is more willing to hire you if you cover the Gigmasters fee. Also, it can make you stand out in your bid, even if it is a low amount. Of course, asking the client to pay it does not seem to be a big deal in my mind. They are the ones coming to the Gigmasters site in hopes of finding you, and I feel that in general, they are already prepared to pay a small fee for the Gigmasters service. Remember, Gigmasters is not just helping them find the right act, but it is providing a level of trust that they might not have otherwise.
I have been as pleased as I possibly could with the help Gigmasters provides. They are efficient and fast. You will not find yourself waiting for a reply, and they are accessible by phone and email. If you have any questions, you can be sure that prompt attention will be given to you.
Do You Already Use Gigmasters?
If you have already used the Gigmasters service, it would be great to know how your experience has been. Tell us about your music and how the service has worked for you. And if you haven't used Gigmasters yet, and have a question, feel free to post it here. Of course, Gigmasters has their own FAQ area. But if you are looking for more of a personal opinion, this may be a better place to get an answer for that.