How to Get any Gig: 5 Essential Habits for Working Musicians
With all of the extremely talented musicians out there it can often be hard to find work and build a reputation that sets you apart from the crowd. A large part of being a working musician is being proactive and entrepreneurial; don't wait for opportunities to come to you, create them. Scour the Internet for people who are looking for band members, a player for a session, a teacher, a composer etc. and contact them!
But the truth is, it's easier said than done. Even when you contact someone there is no guarantee that you'll get the gig and if you do get the gig who knows how long it will last or if you'll be called again?
Here are 5 things to keep in mind to help you get and keep any gig. These are traits found in many successful, working, professional musicians. These habits will help you get any gig and present yourself (and your talents) in the best possible light!
#1: Respond Quickly
If someone is offering you work make sure to respond to their call, text, email, carrier pigeon, Raven etc.
It is pretty crazy how often people will wait a while to respond or not respond at all when a gig is offered to them! Keep in mind, when you get a call, the caller is most likely sending out a bunch of messages to a ton of different players so you want to be sure to act on it quickly and make your interest known.
After you get the gig, be sure to keep this communicative habit up. When rehearsal dates/times, gig logistics etc are being discussed, be sure to respond quickly and with the requested information. This little habit will show the person who called you that you can manage your time, have efficient communication skills and that you care about the success of the gig!
#2: Be on time
This one is common sense. Simply don't be late to the gig. Always try to be (at least!) a half an hour early. If you know there is going to be a ton of traffic then leave more time. Don't leave anything to chance, it is better to be 30 minutes early and hang out in a coffee shop for a bit than sitting in traffic and knowing you are going to be 30 minutes late!
Being late only upsets the band members, the person that hired you and the venue. It can throw off the whole flow of setting up and in some cases set times. If you gain a reputation as someone who is always on time than people will be more likely to call you for their gigs!
#3: Don't Talk Too Much
This one seems pretty odd at first but it is definitely something to keep in mind. This does not mean just to sit there in the corner and play what you're asked to play like a robot. Be personable, be yourself and mingle with the other musicians but when it comes time to rehearse or record don't keep talking or incite more conversation. Believe it or not, this is a very common issue. The key is to try to strike a balance between being friendly and conversing while being professional.
Also, when rehearsing and recording don't ask too many questions about the material. In most cases you should already have a firm grasp on the material before you even set foot at the gig so asking too many questions may make you look unprepared. This absolutely doesn't mean that you shouldn't ask any questions because you should ask questions but not questions that could make someone think that you have no idea what you're doing. The best questions to ask are questions that are necessary to perform your best or if you have a creative idea you would like to share "Can I try this?" "What kind of feel do you want here?" are great questions while "How do you play the verse?" or "How do you play this again?" doesn't make you look prepared. If you find yourself lost of unsure about the material, quietly practice in your head or quietly on your instrument.
#4: Listen and Pay Attention
This one ties in with the previous one. While you are on the gig make sure you are alert and your head is in the game. Don't be constantly checking your phone, watching YouTube videos or making phone calls while on a session or rehearsal. The best thing to do is to just put your phone on "do not disturb" and only check it when you are on a break.
Make sure to pay attention to the person in charge of the project. Listen to what they say and take their feedback in to account, they are after all paying you for your services. Don't noodle around on your instrument or practice the material at a loud volume. No matter how killin' your playing is, this will most likely only annoy the other people on the session and practicing material at a loud volume could make people think that you didn't do your homework!
#5: Good Hygiene
This one is probably the most obvious and doesn't need any explanation but it is a big deal! People don't want to be locked in a sweaty rehearsal room with people who haven't showered in a week. People just aren't built that way! Also, if there is a dress code for the gig make sure to adhere to it!
Although some of these habits may seem blatantly obvious, they are effective. If you exhibit professional communication skills, effective, and clean behavior on the gig then you will be called again. Period.
People want to work with people they enjoy working with. This is especially true in the creative realm and with the large amount of musicians people can call on nowadays you need to be able to stand out from the crowd as someone who takes what they do very seriously and provides professional services and is enjoyable to work with! Making these 5 habits part of your life will get you to that point!
Thanks for reading!