The "Shared" Gig


TDPRI Member
Apr 28, 2019
Abingdon, VA
Sorry for bumping this thread.. found it in a search result for something else entirely.

Shared gigs with another solo artist is commonplace. Typically we see it as opener and main attraction, but sometimes it’s like when Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt did it and they’d flip a coin to see who played first.

In East TN, SWVA, NC, etc, there are a couple different types of shows and artists. If you want to do exclusively original music you should open for someone more popular with a common audience while you build your audience through metrics on social media and streaming platforms. These gigs are few and far between and the pay is low to start and then you can start charging as your popularity builds. These gigs will go from 30 min to 1hr.

What’s FAR more common are 2-3 hour shows where you provide the entertainment at a restaurant or bar. People may or may not be there for live music and you are doing the entertaining. You mix in some originals with a bunch of covers. These usually pay more right out the gate and are pretty consistent.

If you don’t have 3 hours of music you can perform, you’ll probably need to team up with someone to get you there. You can split the money however you see fit. These aren’t usually opener/main act style.. it’s been alternating sets to give each other breaks.

From a performance standpoint being able to do the 3 hour gigs solo is great practice for audience command. You can figure out how to interact with an audience and play songs based on their mood.. hone your stage banter, etc. they have the added benefit of being soundboards for your well written and properly executed original songs. If folks can’t tell it’s an original and they like it? Solid work.

Good luck, and keep gigging!

Junkyard Dog

Friend of Leo's
Mar 7, 2016
It can be OK. The performers need to have some sort of entertaining repartee, accompany each other, harmonize...something. If it comes naturally between them, that's fine, or if they prepare/rehearse that's fine too. But I really don't need to see one person play a song while the other sits there.


Friend of Leo's
Oct 14, 2015
I love doing this and actively try to find bands we can split bills with. I don’t care for playing 3-4 hour gigs.

We are a trio and have played with duos and other trios. With smaller groups like that, the pay isn’t much different.

Fiesta Red

Poster Extraordinaire
Nov 15, 2010
It depends on how it’s arranged.

I don’t want to play a song or two and then have a different artist do the same, unless we are backing each other up on the other’s songs.

Differences in style, vibe and talent often makes for an uneven show, unless (as I said above) it’s something that has been worked out in advance where everyone backs the other artists up during their songs.

…and whether I’m the better or lesser performer doesn’t matter to me…if someone else is better, I’ll gladly be the opener/warmup act; but trying to bounce up and down/back and forth between acts will always make one performer look bad in comparison, unless they’re very evenly matched, talent- and style-wise.

Since [that which cannot be named] hit, my daughter and I have been taking part in a (VERY) amateur online Jam; the original group were all friends of varying talent, and it has grown to friends of friends, acquaintances, etc. It’s become international—a few folks from Argentina, one from Chile, a couple from Mexico, as well as folks from all over the US.

There’s sometimes a vague theme assigned (favorite cover song, song you wish you’d written, TV/Movie theme songs, first song you ever learned, etc). Some people only do covers, some are songwriters (my daughter and I do a lot of originals, separately and together)…one guy only does covers of Arctic Monkey songs—on an out-of-tune piano and vocals (that’s just his thing). One guy is a classically trained cellist, and only plays classical songs. I was originally the only blues/outlaw country player, besides my daughter who has those same inflections and influences; it has inspired one younger (19yo) guitarist/singer (who’s super-talented) to start listening to and playing blues—he’s really developed a cool style. The group also skews young—late teens to early 30’s—so I and one other guy my age are “elder statesmen” and we bring up songs and artists they’ve never heard of. The international folks and younger kids have fallen in love with Waylon and Willie and Billy Joe Shaver as well as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf because of me.

Some of the performers are spectacular. Some are terrible…but it’s all for fun and camaraderie. The thing that’s tough for me is the fact that we round-robin it, and just after getting warmed up on you first song, you’re sitting through the other seven to twelve performers (depending on who shows up) before you play another song.

In this “just for fun” context, it’s ok. If it were a real paying gig, Hades No!
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Dec 16, 2020
Atlanta, GA
Surely part of the strategy is to bring in multiple fanbases and hopefully each artist picks up new fans that were really only there to see the other guy.


Silver Supporter
Jun 2, 2003
I've been reading a book on the subject of succeeding as a solo musician, and in one chapter the author mentions the concept of the "shared" gig, in which two independent solo performers split the stage time on a single gig (each doing her or his own solo material), in approximately equal portions. The idea strikes me as interesting. Just off hand, I can see how this approach would offer a little more variety for the audience, while reducing "performance fatigue" (especially on vocals) for each of the two solo performers. Have any of you ever done an outing this way?
I've done this as a "acoustic singer songwriter" night. 3 of us shared the night, one would do a song, then the next, then the next. It was fun. Toward the end we were joining each other on songs that could be pulled off that way.

P Thought

Doctor of Teleocity
Ad Free Member
Mar 31, 2009
Plundertown (Gasville) OR
I saw a show years ago where John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett, and two other singer/songwriters toured together. I don’t remember who the other two were, but they were all similar in style
Mrs.Thought just played that the other day off YouTube. The other two were Guy Clark and Joe Ely. That was a good show.