Building Relationships and Bands of Brothers
Having a network of quality relationships will without a doubt help you get paid musician gigs as a musician. Whether yours is a band of bros or a band of brothers and sisters, there are benefits to letting your band be your extended family. The benefits will include, but not be limited to, getting you paid musician gigs. Play with people you respect and actually enjoy hanging out with, and you’ll work well together. If nothing else, be a pal to as much of the band as possible. Take it a step further by striving to be a compassionate friend to everyone in your band(s). Do this like you really mean it, and then really mean it. You’ll find that your bandmates will do just about anything for you. When it comes to getting gigs, getting referred for gigs, getting invited into side projects, being a good person and fellow musician to your will really work in your favor. It has for me. If you’re thinking that perhaps it’s just my personality, you’re partly right; but I’m also very human. I can be an ass. I can be a smart ass. I can be inconsiderate, inappropriate, and sometimes clueless; but you know what? I’m always working on it. All of it. Saying I’m sorry or doing small things to make up for being an ass can be hard, but it sure is worth it. I’m a people person, no doubt. I’m also a people pleaser by nature. You certainly don’t have to be like me to be a likable person. Be yourself, but be mindful and considerate. If any of this is making you cringe, talk to someone, pick up a self-help book, or find a podcast on building relationships that matter. Don’t just listen to the music around you. Listen to the voices and people around you. Learn to listen, or learn to pretend and then learn to do it right (i.e. really listen). That’s all you’ve gotta do. Well almost. But listening to bandmates, venue owners, and booking contacts will make you new friends faster than you can blink an eye. Building quality relationships will get you paid gigs. It’ll get you as many gigs as you want. Let me share a few simple suggestions that don’t require much thinking.
Help a bandmate carry their gear in or out of a venue. If you’re a drummer or the guy that hauls a PA system, how awesome is it for one of your band members to help out, even if it’s only sometimes? Try hanging out with your bandmates after the gig, especially the band members that are the llast to finish loading out. Ask your bandmates if they wanna have a beer or grab a bite after a gig. Schmooze at the venue for a few after the gig. This is what’s known as quality time. Am I stating the obvious? Do you ever do this? Have you done it lately?
I met a Russian guy about six months before I started to write this book, and he had a phrase for relationship building. Schmoozing and boozing. It’s tongue in cheek of course, but this phrase resonated with me. I enjoy wine tasting and microbrews. Many venues serve beer, wine, and or spirits. One need not be a drinker to schmooze, however. Got a wife, girlfriend, or buddy who drinks? I’m giving you and excuse to get together for a good time and a perfect opportunity to schmooze. Allow me to share my personal experience with wineries.
I play gigs at several wineries on regular recurring basis. My aforementioned love of wine has driven me and my wife to join wine clubs at a couple of area wineries. Microbreweries and establishments that specialize in micro brewed beers often have membership clubs also. These membership clubs are a fantastic way to meet venue owners and booking contacts. In fact, I can credit my beginnings in the Northern California winery scene to a couple of wine club memberships. It didn’t hurt that my wife also poured wine in the tasting rooms of a couple of local wineries. My wife’s fun job of working tasting rooms not only got us nice discounts on wine, but connected us with many other area wineries. She was in an exclusive circle that is “the wine industry.” This was my foot in the door. After the first gig, word got around. Plus I was able to add this to my musical resume and the resume of the first band I booked at a winery venue.
After my band gigged at one winery, I set my sites on another one. When I contacted them by email, I mentioned our recent performances at their neighboring winery. By the time I had a second venue on the past gigs resume, I pursued a third one, and so on and so on. Today, it’s easy to show the venues that you’ve played on your band website and/or Facebook Page.
It’s also a great idea to ask for references ahead of time. If you’re confident that a venue was happy with your past performances, ask if they can give you a reference. Even better, ask for a testimonial that you can post on your band website or Facebook Page.
Schmoozing isn’t just for gig prospects. It’s also a great thing to do with the venues you currently play. If you haven’t yet noticed, the landscape of live music is always changing. A venue could close it’s doors, but your key contact could land at another desirable venue. If you have a good relationship with the booking contact of a recently closed venue, you’re likely to get booked at the new venue. In another scenario, a venue contact could leave your best venue, but if you have good relationship, you could again end up with a new venue booking. All of this has happened to me. Every relationship matters, and relationships are built on schmoozing and actual friendships. And for those of you who are actually touring and selling your music the same apparently applies. As stated in this great article on dealing with relationships in the music business, timing is everything. Hess also wisely suggests that learning to keep rejection in perspective is a must. This is true every musician.
Are you engaging venues in person? How about spending some occasional quality time with fellow band members and/or those who may want to hire you? Here are some more ideas.
- Organize a happy hour, lunch, or dinner with friends. Try to do it on at a time when your booking contact and influencers are at the venue. Spending a little money at the venue is like showing a little love.
- Ask for a meeting with the venue contact, or just ask them if you can pop by to show them your latest promotional stuff or press kit.
Fellow Band Members
- Organize a happy hour, lunch, or dinner. You’ll know what to do when you get there.
- Go see another band together.
- Host a BBQ or some other type of casual get-together.
The idea is to get some face time, and nurture the relationship. All with sincere intention, of course. We all have a working BS meter, so be genuine and forthcoming about your motives. With venues, just tell them you’re interested in working together, or express appreciation for the existing working relationship, whichever the case may be. With fellow band members, you shouldn’t have to explain. You just want to reinforce the friendship and foster the creative spirit that you share.
I hope that I’ve impressed upon you that it’s worth the time to make go out and make some new friends and to be a great friend. While it seems so obvious, it’s amazing how much impact quality relationships has on getting paid musician gigs. Need more ideas, or wanna share some with me? Leave a comment below, or shoot me a private message via my Contact page.