An Artist in Business, Bands, Gems from the Past, Musicians, Singers

Getting Gigs

Gems from the Past

This article is from the earlier days of Help 2 Succeed.  It’s entered here because there’s great tips not only for musicians and singers but it also has great tips for artists and performing artists.

Getting Gigs

an article on help 2 succeed about how to get gigs with advice for all in the arts and performing arts.

The more people you know the better your chances are of staying busy. Meet new people, but make sure and keep in touch with people you have worked with. Word-of-mouth is a main source of work, and when a new gig or client comes my way they were usually referred by someone I’ve played with or know, not because I looked for it. That’s the way it works when you freelance and are professional about what you do.

Making a lot of calls can also set up a flow of potential gigs. As you keep in touch with people notice how many gigs or referrals come your way after you’ve spoken with certain folks.

Some keys to playing sessions are to play great, play out so a lot of people hear you, and be so good that people have to use you. The better you are, the more in demand you’ll be.

But when the phone doesn’t ring you can make a lot of calls and let people know you are available. Having to call around doesn’t automatically mean that no one is calling you because you’re not good. It just means what it does—you need or want more gigs for whatever reason. The longer you’ve been in the business the more people you’ll know, so the larger your resources are to get and keep the ball rolling.

Here are some additional gig resources:

1) Local jams at restaurants and clubs are frequented by musicians and music biz people. Find out where these places are by looking in the local papers and calling around, then go sit in and have a business card at hand. If no one asks you for your card; ask for theirs, then hand them one of yours. Don’t feel bad if you’re not asked, maybe they just weren’t looking for anyone and had all the players they needed— you never know. Become involved with the local scene.

2) Bulletin boards at music stores, rehearsal studios and recording studios are generally filled with people advertising something. Take a look for someone needing what you do and leave one of your business cards on the board.

3) Magazines always have ads from people looking for musicians. Music mags, Drama mags and Theater mags have various people looking for various things and you can often get new contacts here.

4) Instrument stores have musicians in them. Go to different ones, check out instruments and strike up conversations with people. Be yourself, be real—but promote; find those gigs—they’re there, you just have to find them.

5) Repair shops are frequented by musicians getting equipment fixed. Call them up and let yourself be known. Get the owner on the phone, get in communication with him and leave your number. If he doesn’t want it and says he doesn’t know anyone, fine—just call another place.

6) Rehearsal bands are great places to meet other musicians. Colleges have them, some music stores have them, and the musicians’ union has rehearsal bands that generally meet a few times a week. Call around and find out what’s happening in your area.

7) Musicians’ referral agencies have a large amount of musicians and bands flowing through them. If there’s one in your town register with them.

8) Internet Networking has blown wide open over the past few years. Go on-line and look around for booking agencies and musicians contact services.

9) Anyplace you can think of where musicians, bands, agents, writers, singers, etc. can be found is a place where you can promote.

Running ads and doing mailings is mainly workable for groups. For individuals, personal contact is the way to go. Sitting in at jams is probably the most effective. (Especially when you want more work and feel good about yourself as a musician.)

The more you are known the easier it is. But when you’re starting out, or if times are slow, you hustle. And the better you are, the more gigs come your way and the less you have to promote.

As a musician becomes established, he or she will fall into certain circles of work contacts. Piano players have a routine of solo gig contacts to call, horn players and drummers will call other horn players and drummers to see what’s going on about town, bass players will call other bass players, drummers and piano players; and singing guitarists will call casual agencies as well as other guitarists. Any player doing sessions will let contractors know he’s available and any player doing casuals will call bandleaders and casual contractors. The idea is that there are different circles and communities of players, gigs and contacts that flow together in different ways. Wherever you are “on the flow,” or want to be on the flow is where you put your attention. Once you’ve networked a lot you’ll find yourself getting a phone call from someone you met at a party a while back. It’s mainly a word-of-mouth game to play.

When calling around for gigs, the first place to call is people you’ve worked with before. These people already know what you do, and chances are if they have work they’ll give it to you.

The best way to stay working is to be really good, have fun when you play, play out a lot and contribute to the gig. Then the word gets around and there you go. This is how freelance players make it into the world tour scene as well. You make yourself known in the player community and create a buzz. You find out when auditions are from players, management agencies, big rehearsal studios and wherever—then it’s just a matter of time, persistence and playing the game.

Your Next Step

• Get an idea of what you want to do.
• Decide to do it.
• Learn how to do it.
• Do it.
• Continue doing it.
• Get real good at what you do.
• Keep a high profile so others know what you do.
• Enjoy what you’re doing and make a name for yourself.

I hope these articles have been helpful!


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