Are you an independent musician trying to book a show in New York City but don’t know where to begin? Here is a list of the top 10 music venues where up-and-coming bands and unsigned artists can perform in NYC.
As an independent artist, it can be a lot of work to book your own gigs. Contacting the right people takes time, and many New York City venues do not take unsolicited requests. Most of the venues only work with specific bookers, or promoters, that seek out the bands they want to see play. If you want to work with someone who will find you gigs, you can send your music to different booking agents through Groover: a music promotion platform that connects artists directly to professionals in the industry. If you prefer to book your own gigs, we’ve got you covered. Here are the 10 best venues in NYC that book independent artists.
1. Pete’s Candy Store
Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a cozy venue that has been supporting independent artists since 1999. Some notable musicians got their start playing at Pete’s, including artists like Norah Jones and Sufjan Stevens. The venue prides itself on booking unsigned bands and most importantly, offering free admission to the public. At the end of each show, a hat is passed around in the audience with a suggested donation of $10. All of the profits go to the artists after paying a small percentage to the sound engineer. You can try to perform in NYC at Pete’s Candy Store by filling out the booking submission form on their website. Furthermore, they are one of the rare venues that listens to all of the submissions they receive!
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Located in an old piano store on the Lower East Side, Pianos is a hotspot for up-and-coming artists. With a primary stage downstairs and a more intimate stage in the upstairs lounge, Pianos hosts an eclectic variety of live acts and DJ sets all week long. The venue has a rich history of great artists passing through; Lady Gaga performed there early in her career! The line-up usually consists of three different bands a night and tickets are around $10-$15 for the evening. To book a show, send them an email at email@example.com.
| Read also: 7 Tips on How to Book a Show outside of your City?
3. The Bowery Electric
The Bowery Electric is an iconic venue in the East Village for music lovers and emerging artists. Similar to Pianos, this two floor venue has two stages to choose from: a downstairs space for bigger acts and the cozy “Map Room” on the ground floor for more intimate shows. Two or three bands usually share the bill and tickets cost between $8 and $20 depending on the line-up. A percentage of the profits go to the sound engineer after the show and the bands split the rest. The Bowery Electric has streamlined their booking process by partnering with the platform GigFinesse, so you can try to book a gig by signing up through the link on their website.
4. Arlene’s Grocery
Opened in 1995 in a former bodega is Arlene’s Grocery, now one of the oldest live music clubs on the Lower East Side. Local indie rock bands take the stage in this legendary venue that loves to promote emerging talent. In fact, rare footage shows an early performance of The Strokes playing a gig at Arlene’s in 2000. If you play garage rock or punk music, this venue could be a great place to perform in NYC. You can request to book a show by filling out the form on their website.
5. Berlin – Under A
Berlin – Under A is a small gritty venue that embodies an East Village of another time. The underground vibe complete with vaulted brick ceilings and dim lighting makes for intimate concerts in an authentic ambience. With eclectic performances from 3 live bands a night, the bar transforms into a small nightclub hosting DJ sets that last until the wee hours of the morning. If you’re looking to perform in NYC for a local crowd in an edgy venue, send a booking request directly to the staff through the form on their website.
6. Baby’s All Right
Located in Brooklyn just off the Williamsburg bridge is Baby’s All Right, an independently run venue and hotspot for indie bands. They usually book more established groups who are on tour, both national and international acts, but they also support emerging artists as well. Their 250-capacity show room is spacious yet intimate, with a backdrop of twinkling rainbow lights. Send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could potentially book a show at one of New York’s coolest venues!
7. Trans Pecos
Trans Pecos is an indie venue in Ridgewood, Queens that really represents the DIY scene in New York. They book bands across all genres that push conventional boundaries by blending styles, with a preference for experimental music. In a single night, you can see eclectic performances by a feminist skate punk band followed by a goth rock show. In addition to their live shows, they host a variety of events that focus on building community, including yoga classes and a computer club. If your musical project is genre-bending and experimental, try to book a show at Trans Pecos by filling out the form on their website.
| Read also: How to Find Concert Dates? 5 tips for Playing Live!
8. TV EYE
Just next-door to Trans Pecos on the Ridgewood-Bushwick border is TV EYE, a new venue that describes itself as a “funhaus, party palace, venue, dance club, bar, cafe, art gallery, courtyard, & social club.” What more could you ask for? This cultural hub was opened in 2020 by a group of seven professionals on the New York music scene, combining the expertise of iconic venue owners and renowned architects to bring a new concept to life. The space was conceived to build community and bring diverse people together in a unique setting. The venue room, otherwise known as “The Ballroom”, can fit a crowd of 250 people and has state of the art equipment. Concert tickets are usually between $10 and $15 and their events calendar features local acts and more established indie bands on tour. Send them a message through their contact form to try and book a show!
9. C’mon Everybody
Located in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, C’mon Everybody is a queer owned and operated music venue and bar founded in 2015. They celebrate the LGBTQ/QTPOC community and provide a safe space for artists that have been excluded from the mainstream scene. In addition to concerts from emerging bands, C’mon Everybody also hosts eccentric comedy nights and drag theater shows. If your musical project fits with this vibe, try to book a show by sending your music to email@example.com.
10. Rockwood Music Hall
Lastly, Rockwood Music Hall is a renowned venue on the Lower East Side that has supported emerging artists since 2005. They have three different stages where bands perform every night of the week, with a focus on singer-songwriters and acoustic acts. Notable artists have kickstarted their careers playing at Rockwood Music Hall, including Sara Bareilles and Mumford & Sons. If you are an up-and-coming singer-songwriter, get out your acoustic guitar and send them a message through their contact form to book a show.