The HUB’s favorite blogger and guitarist, who’s played more gigs than he probably cares to remember, offers a seasoned musician’s advice on how you can play out more.
In this edition of Guitar Notes we dive into music business. Now, the sound of those words still makes me a little nervous but, I've found through research and experience that looking at the music business logically can keep it from becoming overwhelming. Here are four ways to get more gigs.
Here I am at the Green Lady Lounge in Kansas City. I play at this great jazz club every Wednesday and Saturday night!
No brainer here, right? This is THE most important thing you can do. Get good on your instrument. In 2014 I hosted a webinar with Steve Vai and at one point he played a single note, held it exquisitely for a long time, and said to me, "everything I have comes from right here." He's absolutely right. Without music there is no musician. If you want to be a guitar player the best thing you can do is play guitar. It's really that simple.
Here I am talking with Steve Vai at BOSS Headquarters in Los Angeles.
This is also a good business strategy: deliver a quality product. Be sure you're prepared, make sure your band is prepared, give your audience quality music and they will come back next time with friends. The trick here is finding a club owner smart enough to realize that quality music will be more profitable in the long run than a mediocre band with a few loyal friends.
Morning practice: Coffee, metronome and guitar.
2. Say Yes!
Now if you've been practicing and have a regular habit of being prepared by practicing this will be easy. Don't make excuses or say "I'm not ready". Find a way to say yes to opportunities. Opportunities lead to more opportunities. On the negative side if you always say “no”, people stop asking. I've learned that when I get an offer to do something even bordering on the impossible, the person asking believes I can do it. Otherwise they would not ask.That's why I say “yes”…whether it's Jamming with Steve Vai or being a College Professor, I said "yes!" Scary? Yes! But not only did I survive, I learned and gained more opportunities by going for it! Watch our jam on YouTube!
Brian Baggett and Steve Vai duel at the Steifel Theater in 2012.
3. Don't Be Afraid of “No”
People are going to say no to you. Sometimes they may not say anything at all. You get ignored. This is normal. Hearing “no” is part of so many "rags to riches" stories it's crazy. Sometimes I wonder if it's because we aren't ready as musicians. When you get a "no" while trying to book gigs, or trying get a string endorsement deal or, get any job, do two things: Keep practicing and remember that every "no" gets you that much closer to a "yes."
Say the odds dictate you get 10 “no” responses to every “yes.” Each time you get a "no" you're one closer to a “yes”. The same goes for promoting your shows and music. Put it out there as much as possible, but realize that only a handful of people are going to bite.
Here is a setlist from a DOJO show. I make one for each member. This one included a picture of our drummer looking a lot like jazz pianist Keith Jarrett!
4. Be a pro
Once you land a gig, in addition to practicing and preparing yourself and your band, you need to be professional. This means starting on time, having a set list to minimize time between songs and taking short breaks. Find out the dress code. Is it a coat and tie gig?
You'll also need a clear head and good motor skills. If you enjoy alcoholic beverages while gigging, make sure you pace yourself and put the music first. Also, carry a business card. If you're professional and you’re providing quality music, people will want you. Have your contact information easily accessible.
I have personalized guitar picks. They are a great way to have your contact information available at gigs.
There you have it! Practice, say “yes!”, count your "no" responses, and be professional. You'll be working in no time. Until next time...Keep Playing!
Read more Guitar Notes from Brian Baggett: Guitar Notes The HUB
Visit www.privatereserveguitars.com or contact Derek White directly at 866-926-1923. He can get you the absolute lowest price on your dream guitar. Connect with Private Reserve Guitars on Facebook and Instagram.
Brian Baggett is Video Presenter for Musician’s Friend Private Reserve Guitars. He curates the Private Reserve guitar collection on video, visits guitar factories and works closely with luthiers and signature artists to gain insight into the greatest guitars being built today. He is also a professional guitarist playing every Wednesday and Saturday night at The Green Lady Lounge in Kansas City. A former jazz guitar professor, Brian continues to teach guitar lessons and has a book and DVD titled Keys To Unlocking the Fretboard. Find Brian on Facebook and twitter.