Gigs For You

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Book Excerpts

EXCERPTS FROM
Washington's Entertainment Connection Career Guidebook
“The Entertainment Connection Guide Volume 1
– The Business of Entertainment”

FINDING WORK

How do I find gigs in my neighborhood (or anywhere else)?

There are a few things to keep in mind. (This is yet another area where many professionals make mistakes.)

Initially, there are three things you need to do:

  1. Decide what is more important to you: playing good gigs as a freelancer, or playing with a steady band. Your responsibilities are different with each choice.
  2. Get as much exposure as possible. Find ways to play quality gigs that allow you to shine.
  3. Create your own network of people with whom you can do business as you do both of the above.

Exposure is the key to success. No matter who you are, you need to be seen. Let me clarify. You need to be seen at your best and make sure you meet the important people around you who can work with you in the future.

But before we go further, you need to decide what type of musician you want to be. Musicians fall under two categories:

  • Freelancers
  • Band performers

If you want to freelance, you will be expected to show up at the gig without rehearsal and play cold. There can be good money in this, but all you are doing is taking orders, playing existing charts. For many musicians this is just fine.

THE POWER OF BEING ORIGINAL

Are you interested in writing (composing) music and performing it live?

If so, there are certain issues about the music you play that will affect how you do business, who will accept your sound and how well you will be received.

If you play for private parties, weddings or Bar Mitzvahs, your clients will usually request standards—music already familiar to them—rather than original music. Club owners often choose cover bands over bands with original sounds because the music is familiar to the audience. Their sole purpose for booking a “club” band is to fill the place and sell food and drink—not to feature your music— unless they have a reason to believe that by featuring you they can bring in a decent crowd. For this reason, most successful bands start out playing covers (tunes written by others).

Originality is harder to sell, but once accepted is easier to book, because it puts you in demand for something only you do. I suggest that you find ways of distinguishing your band from others, and the best way to accomplish this is by creating an original sound—writing your own music. Most artists who are successful at creating this distinction don’t do it by playing covers, because no matter how good you are, other bands do the same thing. So, the following applies to all artists.

If you want to make a name for yourself—you need to create a demand for what you do. You need to create an original sound. In doing this, people will love your act and respect you for what you do that they cannot experience elsewhere. You will create a following— one that will be there to see you perform—a very good thing for attendance.

A CD IN THE MAKING

This section deals with the actual creation of a CD. When I started writing this first edition, I decided not to express my opinion about musical styles or preferences, or to discuss my views on what sells in the industry. Music and entertainment are trendy.

What works today may not work tomorrow. I would never suggest what you should write, play or sing as you develop your career. This is your decision. My goal in this first edition is to explain how the business works, so you can understand how to work within it to reach your goals. I also want to make you aware of the mistakes I have seen and explain how you can avoid making these mistakes in your career.

If you have only limited experience with studio recording, there are things you should know, regardless of what you are recording, that will affect the quality of the end product and save you an awful lot of money. You need to understand why you are creating the CD, so it is critical that you thoroughly plan this project before you go into the studio so that your recording will really showcase your talent to your prospective audience. I am concerned about technical issues (rather than artistic). And, I have seen inexperienced musicians and band leaders make the same mistakes over and over. The quality of your CD will determine your success as an entertainer because, in the end, this product will affect your ability to show what you do. The following information will hopefully prevent you from making costly mistakes.

  • Look for knowledge of specific music, rather than “recording experience”
  • Know your mics
  • Determine the number of recording areas (isolation rooms) available
  • Know your material

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