Sunday

The economy is bad....So you want to be a musician?......Good Luck with that.

If you're out of work, or struggling to pay the bills, I would suggest that you NOT try music as a back up plan. There are MANY musician's that are doing this as their sole means of support, and they ain't exactly living like kings.The music industry is full of very talented people, with amazing songs, who are completely unknown. The sad truth is that the odds are against you finding success here.

Oh, you're still reading? OK you've been warned. Since you are the stubborn , "can do anything" kind; I'll use this post to give you some tips on getting started.

You will most likely start off playing small bars, clubs and restaurants. Go to the venue of choice and ask for the person who does the booking. Introduce yourself and ask him what he needs to book you. Give it to him. Be friendly. Not that hard is it? Wait, there's more.
Most smaller clubs don't ask for Electronic Press Kits. Most don't ask for Demo's. I'll discuss these in detail later. They will take you at your word and allow you to get up there and prove or disprove yourself.

Many of the ones that do ask for these things, are probably not interested in booking you anyway, so put something good together, send it in, and move on.

Keep in mind that if a club books you, they are doing it for one reason and one reason only. They believe that you might bring people to buy their products. If your presence at the club does not bring people in, why should they book YOU over their best friends' cousin, or that chick with the big tits?

Most musicians will get support from family and hopefully, a few friends, when they first start out. This is an encouraging start, but many times new performers rely too heavily on it.

Here is how to build your crowd:

Make contacts and MAKE CONTACT.

You have to make friends, and lots of them. Ask questions. Keep your opinions to yourself until you find out what their's is, and then preach their gospel to them. Train yourself to remember names.This business is about relationships, and the more relationships you have, the more people you will draw to your show, and that is how you get more shows. If alot of people like you, you are ahead of the game.

You'll notice that I haven't made any mention regarding the music you play. That is because it DOES NOT MATTER. People are social creatures and they just want to surround themselves with friends. Do what you do, and enjoy yourself. Being an amazing guitar player is a great skill to have. Unfortunately, there are thousands of amazing guitar players in the area where you live.

Do not try to compete head to head!
Music is very subjective, so you will need to set yourself apart with your format, if you can. Put a Hip Hop beat on country songs. Play heavy metal songs as country ballads. This is called 'branding'. You have GOT to stand out.You could try any number of gimmicks; hot girls surrounding the stage, buy drinks for the crowd, give away t shirts, whatever works, but the number one rule is:

Do NOT compete with your fee!
Ask around, to find out what the local scene has decided is the minimum fee; and do NOT go below it. When you cut the fee below your competition to get the gig, you will get the gig almost every time! You will also piss off every musician in the area because you are driving the price down, and soon, you will have someone undercut you, and they will have someone undercut them... until everyone is playing for free. This brings the quality of the entertainment down, increases competition, and forces you to get another job just to buy gas. I thought you wanted to make a living doing this?!?

Become familiar with the music stores and the people working there.
Some music stores seem to treat the musician as a friend more so than others. You'll want to encourage relationship building like that, so if they work for your business give it to them. Some music stores, believe it or not, treat you like the next hustle.They will tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to spend your money. One thing you do not need is a bunch of extra crap lying around. Which leads me to:


Save all the money you can. Don't get duped into buying things you don't need.
The trick to surviving anything is by keeping multiple use items on hand. In a pinch, you have something very portable that can satisfy your immediate need. There is nothing that can take care of problems as well as cold, hard, cash. Cash is the ultimate multipurpose tool. Emergencies happen, of course, but 99 % of the time, you will be just fine if you can pay your way. Money cannot buy happiness, but being broke and hungry will make you sad. It sucks to buy 3 full cases of strings, and then find you have no money for gas or to eat, because your gig was cancelled. Trust me, I ve been there.. On a related note...

Take every freebie you can find.
Fast food joints allow you to get your own napkins. I keep the console of my truck full of 'em. They are useful for so many things. All freebies are good. I used to live on the free condiment packets that came with the hot dog special at a certain truck stop in Madison. "3 hot dogs for a dollar" and they had a rack of packets of ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. They also had little packets of onions and relish! When I bought 3 hotdogs, I also walked out the door with 2 bags full of condiments.



Ok, get to work. Start figuring out your format and set list. Book gigs. Make friends. Save your money. Be aggressive. "It's a long way to the top, if you wanna rock and roll."

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