Thursday, September 18, 2008

Staying Local, Staying Loyal

It's always taken a certain amount of courage to embark on a musical career, and now seems like a particularly daunting time, what with all of the current instability in the music business and the economy in general. One strategy to improve your odds for long-term stability is through cultivating steady relationships with employers in your local music scene.

Too many musicians view local gigs as mere stepping stones on the way to stardom, but I've found that if you really make the effort to cater to the needs of your local benefactors and show loyalty to them, you can gradually build up a rewarding variety of steady work for yourself. With this in mind, here are some suggestions for your consideration:

1) Keep a positive attitude and be open to the gigs available to you locally
2) Consistently be there for your steady gigs when they need you
3) Stay in regular touch with all of your local contacts
4) Be prepared, considerate, and punctual on EVERY gig (even the cheap ones)
5) Get to know your clients and be responsive to their needs
6) Do favors for people and express your gratitude for favors received

1) Don't sub out your gig every time you get a better paying offer
2) Don't leave town for extended periods (people will stop calling)
3) Don't cop the attitude that a gig is beneath you
4) Don't be stubborn; if a club owner or bandleader wants something different from you, try to accommodate him
5) Don't sacrifice a long-term, decent paying gig for a short-term, great paying gig

If you can maintain this kind of attitude, you won't lose many gigs. And as you hold on to your existing gigs, you will fill up the holes in your schedule with more steady work. This should all eventually add up to a decent and relatively stable income. I'm not suggesting that you should be a pushover or that you should never aspire to anything bigger, but if you can't maintain a great attitude on local gigs, don't expect to get offered any bigger opportunities. Use the challenges and frustrations of smaller gigs to develop your constructive, pro attitude.

By the way, I was recently interviewed for the very informative music business podcast Musicians Cooler. Please check it out for many great tips:

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