My impatience as a musician
As a gigging musician, I’ve often been challenged by my own sense of impatience. My impatience as a musician has stemmed from frustration with band mates, venue owners and/or myself. Impatience combined with emotion-based decision making can, and most often will, lead to problems. Before I get into the realm of self-help writing here, the point that I’m trying to make is that getting gigs that pay, being booked consistently, and having the opportunity to work with the right musicians, takes patience and persistence. It also means keeping your frustration and emotions in-check.
Everything I know as about getting paid gigs has taught me that patience and persistence are a musician’s friend; and so is time. A wise woman named Lupe once told me that it takes time to be good at anything. I heard these words as a young man and at a time when I wasn’t very patient where my career was concerned. At this time in my life, I was in fact fairly aggressive in my professional pursuits. The aggressiveness paid off in the early years, but I eventually let impatience get the best of me. Later in life, I came to realize that Lupe’s words about time were true. In fact, her words would come to seem somewhat profound. By “time,” Lupe was also referring to patience and persistence. Lupe was my mom, by the way. Turns out that lots of other stuff she told me was also very true and somewhat profound. At first, the realization that she was right about so many things was a little maddening. The maddening aspect of it all had a lot to do with the fact that the things she told me should have seemed obvious to me.
Today I’m reminded of Lupe’s words, having seen the efforts of my work culminate after months and even years of planting seeds. Some of my relationships turned into bookings one, two and even three years after they began. From the time those relationships began, to the time that they produced bookings, there was constant nurturing. Relationship nurturing can be an occasional email, a deliberate conversation at a chance meeting, or attending the shows of fellow musicians. I love stating the obvious, but only because it seems that people (especially musicians) are so good at overlooking the obvious. Here goes… It’s important to note that one must be genuine and authentic when nurturing relationships. This is very true in the world of marketing, and it’s no different in the world of music. Almost everyone has a good B.S. meter these days, so do yourself a favor. Be real, be genuine and be authentic. You’ll find it much easier to get quality bookings from the right people this way. More importantly, this approach will help you get repeat bookings, referrals and recommendations for even more bookings. If you have any doubt in your ability to connect with people on a personal level, practice on a band mate, hire a presentation and speaking coach, or find a podcast or book on the subject.
If you’re young and hungry, it may strike you as unacceptable to work for months or years for a gig. That’s fine. Bust your ass getting gigs now to pay the bills, but know that your efforts to nurture every relationship that you have will pay dividends toward your future. And I’m not just talking about your music future. Just as Lupe said, it takes time to be good at anything. It also takes time to develop long lasting relationships. These would be some of the same relationships that will help you achieve your music aspirations.
My Life Outside of Music
There have been times in my life when I’d wished that I’d chosen the path of being a musician first. Alas, it was not to be my journey. Fortunately, I’ve still had the joy of performing in some great music venues with a number of great musicians. This joy is still a big part of my life. There are fewer views more pleasing than the Northern California sky, whilst perched on my drum kit or standing in front of a band with microphone in hand. Even on small stages where the view is less expansive, performing is always a joy. Most of my professional time has been spent in technology and marketing, and these days I support myself as a marketing professional. When I set out to write a book on the topic of getting paid gigs, I was sure that my readers would be people who were more or less like me, playing music part-time, and doing it at a very local level. I assumed they’d be at a professional, or semi-pro level, whereby they not only sought out good gigs, but also decent pay for their time. Sometime between the first chapter draft and this blog post, I came to realize that there’s a much bigger audience at large. There are full-time musicians, songwriters, recording professionals, and even parents who promote and support the musical endeavors of their children. There are touring musicians, session musicians, and musicians in many genres, all of whom deal with a unique set of challenges. Thus the book idea has become one that’s given birth to ideas that will likely become a series of books that dive into the details relevant to different types of musicians and music professionals. One thing that I’m certain will hold true is that patience, persistence (and time) will be a common and recurring theme. This theme holds true for getting paid gigs, as I know it will hold true for my writing projects.
If you’d like to know more about a specific area of the music entertainment space, I’d love to hear from you. Hope over to my About page to send me an email or hit me up on the Twitter (@robertorrh). Hope to hear from you soon!