In late October I had the pleasure of being featured on an episode of Gig Gab, The Working Musician’s Podcast. In that episode, co-host Paul Kent asked me what the number one limiting factor is that keeps musicians from getting more gigs.
My response could have been a single word.
Many musicians (and non-musicians) fail to recognize the value of their existing relationships. Others underestimate the power of their relationship-building skills. I included the word “leverage” in my response to Paul’s question, which made me squirm a tiny bit. The reason for the squirm was because I suspect the idea of “leveraging” relationships can sound akin to using people. In this case, nothing could be farther from the truth. In order for this type of leverage to work, you have to have relationships with people that you admire and trust. You can think of it like you would a great friendship. Our best relationships with our best friends are built on mutual admiration, trust and a little love. There’s no reason to strive for anything less in any relationship we have, be it with a venue, a band mate, or a significant other. Of course we’re talking about varying degrees of love and admiration here, but the point is to recognize and build upon relationships that are based on admiration and trust. If you’re a gigging musician and I’m a venue owner, you wouldn’t feel shy about asking me for a favor, assuming we have a good relationship, right? If we have a good relationship, I’m going to do my best to help you out.
Wanna endear yourself to a venue owner? Here are a few simple things you can do to help them out.
- Visit their establishment and bring friends
- Pay them a genuine compliment
- Tell others about their venue
- Connect them with another musician or band that fits their venue needs
I’ve done all of these things, and on occasion it has turned into bookings. Don’t forget about the venue staff. Mutual friendship with venue staff can payoff where getting booked is concerned. Some of the seemingly pee-on staff are key influencers with venue owners and management, so be kind to everyone at the venue! If a venue really likes you, they could refer you to another venue. The same is true of staff.
In my book The Unstarving Musician’s Guide to Getting Paid Gigs, I mention subbing and how your relationships with other musicians can factor into how much you gig and the quality of your gigs. Networking with other musicians is huge for getting referrals for subbing gigs and also to venues. I’ve found that musicians are generous and want to by and large help one another. If you don’t find this to be true in your circle, try leading by example. Help out other musicians by referring them to subbing gigs or sharing venue contact info with them. Believe me, there is generally plenty of gigs to go around. Also remember that what goes around comes around. Demonstrate that you value a giving attitude of abundance and word will travel. Be kind to your fellow musicians and support them in any way that you can. Word will travel. Let’s face it. People like hanging out with people who are kind, considerate, and supportive. You don’t necessarily have to be the absolute kindest and most considerate among your peers, but it doesn’t hurt.
The trick is to always be building friendships within your music community.
Reflecting on my podcast interview with Gig Gab, I recall also using the term “long game.” That’s what we’re playing when we’re building relationships, such as those that relate to getting paid gigs. It’s worth noting that some relationships will actually develop very quickly, which is usually about timing. The trick is to always be building friendships within your music community. As for the relationships that develop quickly, you may get a great gig within a short window of time after having just met someone. Conversely, you might have an opportunity to help someone out after knowing them only a short time. That’s a good thing, because the type of relationships we’re really talking about here are all about helping one another.
In case you missed it, here’s what keeps most musicians from getting more paid gigs?
- Failure to recognize the value of existing relationships
- Under estimating the power of ones relationship building skills