Five surefire methods for getting more shows:
1. Get a better live show.
Everyone could play a tighter show. Even the most established and professional acts are constantly tinkering with their recipes and trying new things. Odds are you have poor stage presence, way too much dead space in your set when instrumentals or hooks are playing, and you're not engaging the crowd enough. Get video footage of your gigs as much as possible, and ask everyone who's seen you for feedback -- especially the "haters" -- that's your most valuable source of honest, unbiased information.
2. Reach out to larger local and regional acts.
Offer to help out bigger cats locally, with fliers, promotion, even setting up equipment. If you've got a digital camera, you can be a photographer. Make yourself useful and you'll earn more gigs.
3. Do some ticket buy "pay to play" opening gigs.
It's worth it to bite the bullet once in awhile. If there's a major national act coming through who have a similar style and sound to what you're doing, it's a good investment to do a ticket buy for a real promoter and get in front of that audience. Especially if you've got merch to sell.
4. Advertise and Network.
Flyers are a blind spot for a lot of people -- even artists who get them printed will often use them so wrong, they might as well have saved time and just burned the money directly. Hand flyers directly to interested people, and put them up at venues and businesses frequented by your tribe. Quantity is not quality and never will be. As for "networking," you might think you know what I'm talking about, but read this to be sure.
5. Submit to Festivals Like You Mean It
Small barriers to entry are the most effective. What that means is that a $30 submission fee for a festival will keep the fucktards from wasting your time. Every rapper on myspace thinks they're dope, but ask them to put money on that and watch the confidence evaporate. That's the principle behind submission fees for festivals.
The flipside of that is, they get way less submissions than you think, and they can't afford 90% of the "real" acts who do submit. So if you're a cheap newcomer who just shows up on their desk, you've got a strong chance of getting into the festival.
Check out How to Book a World Tour While You're Buck Naked -- a guide to using MySpace and Google Maps to organize a tour that's only limited by your ambition and gas money.
Live Shows 101 sums up my advice on the topic of effective gigs. My advice pales in comparison to the body of business wisdom and life experience that Jeri Goldstein provides.
Check out our series on touring -- especially about the necessity of touring for larger artists and the fact touring isn't necessary for smaller DIY artists...like you. (It is fun, though...just not smart business.)