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“People Always Say”
When I decided to leave the traditional work force and pursue music as a full time career I heard a lot of people say that it’s nearly impossible to earn a living playing music locally, or that you have to be in the right clique to get the good gigs. Actually, I’ve heard the same kind of statements said about many things in life, not just music. What I’ve found is that these statements carry some, albeit little, truth.
It is a lot of work and you’re probably not going to get rich playing the local circuit. It’s not just a matter of playing music and getting paid either. There’s a lot of ground work involved to develop your show, market yourself, and get booked. This is all assuming that you’re at least a decent performer. Hard but not impossible. Even though I’m pretty new to the music scene, I’ve managed to perform 210 shows so far in 2017, not counting open mic appearances and sitting in on friends’ shows. These are all paying gigs that have provided me a decent, not great, but decent income. Without the help of others none of it would have ever happened.
“The In Crowd”
I’ll admit that there have been times over the last three years that I’ve gotten very frustrated and thought that the “good old’ boy network” was against me. Circles of colleagues and friends, sometimes cliquish, exist in music just as they do in any other field of interest in our lives. It’s really easy to feel like an outsider when you are new to a community or environment, but it doesn’t need to be a road block to your success. Networking and developing a support structure is necessary to get along in most anything that we do. This doesn’t mean you have to be one of the “cool kids” or know the secret hand shake to succeed. It simply means that we need to be friendly, open to developing relationships, and just be nice to others (or for some of us at least as nice as we can be.) Remember that opportunities can come from the most unexpected places.
“It’s Not Always about Who You Know….”
Never make unwarranted assumptions about people! Sometimes it’s not the people we know, but the people that they know, that help us succeed. I met my duo partner several years ago when we were both playing open mics trying to develop our skills. He worked on the beach and had developed relationships with a lot of folks at places that book music, but not as a musician. Through a series of events we ended up playing a few shows together last year and it quickly snowballed into a summer of daily, sometimes twice and three times daily, gigs on Pensacola Beach. He also now books for several venues on the beach and has people calling him all the time looking for work.
A few months ago I was having a drink at a place that is a popular stop for service industry folks on their way home from work. A guy recognizes me from a now extinct spot that used to be everyone’s last stop before heading home. He is now a chef at a new restaurant that has music. We have a friendly chat and he asks for a card. Last week I get a call from the owner of said restaurant and now I’m booked to play there at the end of this month.
“Shout It Out Loud!”
Whether it’s music, art, home repairs, or Tupperware, people aren’t going to come to you for service or products if they don’t know that you provide them. You have to “sell” yourself all the time. By this I don’t mean to brag or pitch for gigs everywhere you go, just let people know what you do. I’ve found that most people become really curious when they find out that I play music for a living. Don’t be afraid to tell a little of .your story when people are engaged. It’s our story and uniqueness that really get people interested in what we do. I’ve even had eavesdroppers come up and ask for a card after having conversations with people in public places.
Don’t forget to let friends and family know what’s going on with your career. Don’t assume that everyone’s aware of your specific situation just because they know you’re a musician or because you post on social media. If you need followers to show up for a new gig, tell your friends and family directly that you need their support. When you’re looking for new venues or need collaborators for a new project let your people know. Remember that your people have people. Your cousin’s girlfriend’s brother may be the right person to create the artwork for your next album; but only if your cousin knows you need artwork for your next album.
“We’re In This Together”
No one makes a real go at this life alone. Even the homesteaders in Alaska depend on their neighbors for survival from time to time. If we can’t share our music with others what’s the point? Without venue owners to hire us there are no gigs. Without bandmates there is no band. Even if you know the “in crowd” you won’t be in the crowd if you’re a jerk to them. While knowing the “right” people helps sometimes, but it’s really more about how you treat everyone that you already know. Don’t treat and judge people based on what you think they can do for you. Everyone you meet has potential impact on your success. What those impacts are depends on how you develop those relationships.
"Until We Meet Again..."
Thanks for stopping by and reading this post! I hope everyone can find something informative, thought provoking, or entertaining here at my blog. Please feel free to leave thoughts and comments in the comment section below, or you can email me at Jim@HippyJimMusic.com . Please subscribe to this blog by Clicking here, entering your email below, or on the main blog page. That way you can get updates for the blog as well as follow my music. Also check out the Archive and Featured post to catch up if this is your first visit.
Until next time - Keep on Livin' the Dream