MAKING A LIVING AS A GUITARIST
by Bruce Lamb
In order to make a living on a regular basis, you will need to play your guitar well. The better you are at your respective instrument, the more demand there will be for your services, and the more opportunities will present themselves. The better that you can read music, the more bookings will be available to you. This is virtually a mandatory requirement for the higher paying professional gigs.
You should have an extensive song list in the style that you play. If you can sing and the more tunes that you can accompany vocally, the better. If two equal musicians audition for the same gig, the one that can sing the lead in more of them will usually get the booking .If you have this ability to play by ear it will also increase the amount of work you can get.
Make sure that your equipment is set for the appropriate volume levels and is properly tuned. Get to the gig early and get your equipment set up. Go to the gig before you actually have a date to get started and listen to the room. Get a feel for the audience and maybe ask who ever is playing at the gig about there amp settings while they are on a break.
You must always make certain that you are on time and dressed for the gig. Always be polite and remember the more people that like you at the booking, the more chances you will get another by referral. Always try to understand and know what will be expected of you and provide it.
The more that you enjoy what you are doing the more others will enjoy you. This leads to more work. Always be a team player, you are there for the enjoyment of the audience, not yourself, well not totally. It is always better if you’re in it for your own enjoyment. Sometimes you just have to find a happy medium. Always work together to make the magic work, and convey that to the audience.
With the diversification of instruments and musical styles, it stands to reason that there are an equally diverse amount of possible gigs. Some of the more basic ones will be covered here but do not limit your horizons by not trying out other avenues that may present themselves. Solo gigs or small parties, cocktail lounges, waiting areas, restaurants, receptions, and churches, on busy street corners in busy cities are always great places to find work. Put out a sign if you play for free saying you are for hire and give out your contact info. Have some business cards made up. FedEx , formally Kinkos you can get cards made in less than five minutes for under twenty bucks, so there is no excuse for not having them and taking responsibility for your way of making a living.
If you enjoy playing a certain type of guitar music try and find a venue that likes that type of music being played. Unless you have a huge list of the songs you have written and have played them in public for others to enjoy and have received critiques on them or people have commented on them don’t play your own stuff until the gig and audience knows your stuff and likes it. In other words don’t assume that everyone will like your own compositions.
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