Getting ready for shows can be stressful – especially when their big or important events.

There are a lot of different things that go into preparing for a gig. There’s practicing your parts. Making sure you have all the equipment you need. Having the right clothes and shoes to change into. Making sure that you have the directions to the venue and that you know where to go once you arrive.

Sometimes, depending on the gig, you also need to do things like create a setlist, make sure you have your playlists loaded onto your MP3 player or laptop and that they’re charged, that you have sounds setup on your keyboard, or presets ready on your effects pedal or board.

In a way, it’s a lot like packing for a trip each time you go to a gig. But it’s a lot more stressful.

So how do you make the process of getting ready to go out and perform less stressful?

You automate as many of the tasks required of you in advance.

Automating is “converting (a process or faculty) to a largely automatic operation.”

This means, the more you standardize the things you need to do prior to a gig, the more automatic they’ll become and the less you have to worry about forgetting something.

So what are some of the things you can do to automate your gigs?

1. You can create a set list that you only need to make minor changes to depending on the venue, the length of your sets and so on. This does several things to help make gig prep stress-free. It not only allows you to keep books with essential charts, notes, and lyrics for other musicians, but it also ensures that you perform your best stuff. As you perform, pay attention to the songs your audience likes to hear and begin tailoring your setlist to fit their preferences. You can always make small changes or add new songs, but why change something that works?

2. Pack your music equipment in ready-to-go bags and place them in locations that enable you to load in and out more quickly. I have a bag with the cables and equipment I need for track gigs ready and accessible. I know that if I have a gig, I can just grab that bag and that I don’t have to worry about searching around for cables each time an opportunity comes up. I also keep a mic cable in a bag with my wireless so that I have it if needed.

3. Create a standard rider and contract so that you have it available to you when gig opportunities present themselves. Why spend the time creating a new one each and every time you are contacted for a show? Of course, like all else, these need to be tailored, but if you have the bulk of it ready, the time you need to spend on it is greatly reduced.

The above three suggestions are just some of the ways you can “automate” your gigs and make the process less stressful.

If you have any methods for automating your performances, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.