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Notes_Norton

How to make a living playing music

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How to make a living playing music:

1.    Play what the people want to hear

2.    Pace the audience. Play the right songs at the right time so the audience has the best possible time

3.    Play at the volume that is appropriate for the gig

4.    Never-ever, cancel, call in sick, show up late, or take long breaks - the show must go on

5.    If the place is jumping play a little extra, skip a break, and even play a little late if it's OK with the owner

6.    Play for the house or the entertainment purchaser. Put yourself in his/her shoes and do what you would want the band to do if you hired the band

7.    Dress appropriately and be friendly and easy to work with

8.    Do your best whether there is 1 customer or 10,000, and always strive to be better than your competition

This has worked s for me since 1964. I've never been out of work unless I was between bands or turning down gigs for my annual vacation.

Insights and incites by Notes

Edited by Notes_Norton
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Just make sure you have real job so you can eat and pay bills. At 53 I would have no desire to go on the road to try to make it.

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If you are good enough, and follow the rules, you won't need a day job. I've had two real jobs in my life to see what normal was all about and found normal to be soooooo overrated. Phone man for a while (back when phones had wires) and Cable TV Field Engineer. During these gigs, I still played music on the weekend.

I could have made more money if I stayed in the electronics industry, but I'm living a very happy life, and that's worth more than the money. I have enough to live on, the mortgage is paid, I take mostly foreign vacations every year, and other than car payments I'm debt free.

I am not a corporate wage slave doing the weekly grind. I get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and in between, do what I want to do. In other words, I'm successful and I'm free. There is more than one definition of success.

Notes

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13 minutes ago, mihcmac said:

Play what you love and your audience will find you.

I feel this is playing to be an artist vs what I feel Notes is referring to which is playing to be a performer, IMO (neither better, but different paths).  Good points Notes on how to be a successful performer.  I feel nirvana though is when you get an audience that come wanting to hear what you want to play (own originals etc... )

Edited by billroy fineman

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27 minutes ago, billroy fineman said:

I feel this is playing to be an artist vs what I feel Notes is referring to which is playing to be a performer (neither better, but different paths)

I agree with Notes, I was just adding another condition. If you play Mustang Sally the for the millionth time, the audience will respond to how enthusiastic you are.

Edited by mihcmac

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44 minutes ago, mihcmac said:

 If you play Mustang Sally the for the millionth time, the audience will respond to how enthusiastic you are.

Gotta agree with that.  Then finding new songs that will get the same response seems to be the trick...

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3 minutes ago, billroy fineman said:

Gotta agree with that.  Then finding new songs that will get the same response seems to be the trick...

Santana has quite a few that are fun to play and will make people dance..

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1 hour ago, Notes_Norton said:

If you are good enough, and follow the rules, you won't need a day job. I've had two real jobs in my life to see what normal was all about and found normal to be soooooo overrated. Phone man for a while (back when phones had wires) and Cable TV Field Engineer. During these gigs, I still played music on the weekend.

I could have made more money if I stayed in the electronics industry, but I'm living a very happy life, and that's worth more than the money. I have enough to live on, the mortgage is paid, I take mostly foreign vacations every year, and other than car payments I'm debt free.

I am not a corporate wage slave doing the weekly grind. I get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and in between, do what I want to do. In other words, I'm successful and I'm free. There is more than one definition of success.

Notes

If you can do what you want and live how and where you want that is all that matters. I know I could never make it in the music game, so I guess I'm tied to being a corporate wage slave.

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1 hour ago, Notes_Norton said:

How to make a living playing music:

1.    Play what the people want to hear

2.    Pace the audience. Play the right songs at the right time so the audience has the best possible time

3.    Play at the volume that is appropriate for the gig

4.    Never-ever, cancel, call in sick, show up late, or take long breaks - the show must go on

5.    If the place is jumping play a little extra, skip a break, and even play a little late if it's OK with the owner

6.    Play for the house or the entertainment purchaser. Put yourself in his/her shoes and do what you would want the band to do if you hired the band

7.    Dress appropriately and be friendly and easy to work with

8.    Do your best whether there is 1 customer or 10,000, and always strive to be better than your competition

This has worked s for me since 1964. I've never been out of work unless I was between bands or turning down gigs for my annual vacation.

Insights and incites by Notes

 

 

Good points, I have a nephew who tried to make it down in Nashville but he was stubborn and only wanted to play his original music and nothing else..then wonders why he does not draw well...I tried to tell him you need to do some covers so they can hear something they know and like then throw in a few originals..needless to say it did not work and now does zero gigs.

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2 hours ago, Notes_Norton said:

If you are good enough, and follow the rules, you won't need a day job. I've had two real jobs in my life to see what normal was all about and found normal to be soooooo overrated. Phone man for a while (back when phones had wires) and Cable TV Field Engineer. During these gigs, I still played music on the weekend.

I could have made more money if I stayed in the electronics industry, but I'm living a very happy life, and that's worth more than the money. I have enough to live on, the mortgage is paid, I take mostly foreign vacations every year, and other than car payments I'm debt free.

I am not a corporate wage slave doing the weekly grind. I get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and in between, do what I want to do. In other words, I'm successful and I'm free. There is more than one definition of success.

Notes

9. Recognise many of your audience are probably what you call 'wage slaves' and may not care to hear how successful you think you are.

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3 hours ago, 'Scales said:

9. Recognise many of your audience are probably what you call 'wage slaves' and may not care to hear how successful you think you are.

They won't know either way because he won't be talking about it on stage. He'll be entertaining everyone with music. 

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20 hours ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

If you can do what you want and live how and where you want that is all that matters. I know I could never make it in the music game, so I guess I'm tied to being a corporate wage slave.

my lament as well.. 

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I like all kinds of music. If I wanted to be an "artist" I would probably go to jazz. I did that for a couple of years. The leader of the band taught jazz guitar at the University of Miami and also played for Ira Sullivan for a couple of years. Big stars came to sit in with us, people with chops so great they alternately either inspired me or made me want to give up ;) But we worked on Sunday afternoons while I had that 'day gig' as a CATV field engineer.

You can't live on Sunday afternoons.

You can live playing what the people want. Is it more of a sell-out to work a day job and play art music once a week, or to not have a day job and gig all week?

I could play Mustang Sally another million times. It gets the dance floor full and ton of love from the audience rushing over me. I consider the simplest pop tunes to be like junk food. A lot of fun but without a lot of nutritional content. It's like donuts for the soul ;)

We mix in some material for us in the sets, originals, jazz, whatever seems appropriate at the time.

I have fun at what I do. I get up in the morning, I go to bed at night, and in between I do what I want to do. I'm free. And that's also a definition of successful.

1. Play what the audience wants to hear

That depends on where you are. My current market is predominantly retirement communities, yacht clubs, country clubs, and so on. Florida is a big retirement state and I've played that market since the 1980s. At that time Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra songs ruled. Now it's Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton era. Every year we learn a dozen new songs and find another dozen that don't work anymore.

But we are chameleons and can do Caribbean music (Afro and Latin), The American Songbook jazz tunes, and quite a few other genres. It's fun putting different musical hats on. It depends on our audience. We play what we think they want to hear.

It could be original material if you are in the right place. It could be the Country market which is also big in our area. It could be Musica Latina if there is a Hispanic community where you are. It could be ballroom dance music. If there is an audience, you can work it.

But you must choose something that there is a demand for, and then play what the people in your audience respond to. It's not a monologue, but a dialog. Give and take. Pay attention to what works and what doesn't work.

As an artist and/or entertainer you have to fill a demand. Supply and demand. Give them what they want. If you want them to listen, you need to give them what they want to listen to.

It all boils down to this, and it's the best advice I got a long, long time ago:

You can play for yourself, you can play for other musicians, or you can play for the general public -- if you are good enough at it you will get the audience you asked for.

(1. Play what the audience wants to hear)

Insights and incites by Notes

 

 

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20 hours ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

If you can do what you want and live how and where you want that is all that matters. I know I could never make it in the music game, so I guess I'm tied to being a corporate wage slave.


They say the gig economy is growing, no time like the present to break away from the corporate chains.

Other tips for making a living as a musician:
1) Always go over your set time, especially if you're opening.

2) During set up, make sure to get in some practice playing your favorite riffs like smoke on the water or some progressive track no one's ever heard of while your other guitar player is playing sweet child o mine

3) Never use a tuner. Just stand by your amp, crank it up and tune by ear after every song.

4) Never interact with the audience. Why should they know your name, keep them guessing.

5) Always bring your own lights, fog machine and sound guy to run the board, clubs love it.

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20 hours ago, kelly campbell said:

 

 

Good points, I have a nephew who tried to make it down in Nashville but he was stubborn and only wanted to play his original music and nothing else..then wonders why he does not draw well...I tried to tell him you need to do some covers so they can hear something they know and like then throw in a few originals..needless to say it did not work and now does zero gigs.

exactly Ray,  gotta mix it up.  give them a ratio of known tunes versus originals. and bit by bit ...

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2 minutes ago, deeman said:


They say the gig economy is growing, no time like the present to break away from the corporate chains.

Other tips for making a living as a musician:
1) Always go over your set time, especially if you're opening.

2) During set up, make sure to get in some practice playing your favorite riffs like smoke on the water or some progressive track no one's ever heard of while your other guitar player is playing sweet child o mine

3) Never use a tuner. Just stand by your amp, crank it up and tune by ear after every song.

4) Never interact with the audience. Why should they know your name, keep them guessing.

5) Always bring your own lights, fog machine and sound guy to run the board, clubs love it.

lol,  absolutely ...

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I got to be in an all original music band from "81 to '84. it was artistically satisfying but in order to play any gigs we had to throw some covers in. we did a 60/40 mix of covers / originals.  we didnt gig a lot but it was fun. 

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Best I can do is busk for a sandwich and some change. If not, I have to work the dumpster at night.

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It's cool that you can make enough dough to do this full time Notes.  But that's just not the reality most of us live in.

There's hardly enough venues that cater to live music in these parts to even keep a fraction of the bands and performers busy.

And the pay is generally insulting.  $500 on average, to split 4 or 5 ways in many cases..  we all know how much work goes into getting to and doing a gig.  Hardly worth the effort.

However I fully agree with "play the music that pleases the audience"  and "always be a pro"  Those two things alone are key.

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13 minutes ago, kidblast said:

we all know how much work goes into getting to and doing a gig.  Hardly worth the effort.

The worse part is breaking down at the end of the night. I agree, it's not worth the extra $100 I would get. I will never play in another working band.

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1 minute ago, Big Bill said:

The worse part is breaking down at the end of the night. I agree, it's not worth the extra $100 I would get. I will never play in another working band.

These days it really is more likely that the hassles just out weigh the benefits.   at my age, It just doesn't compute.

 

 

 

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58 minutes ago, Big Bill said:

The worse part is breaking down at the end of the night. I agree, it's not worth the extra $100 I would get. I will never play in another working band.

yea, for years as we breakdown & load up we say "this is what they really pay us for. the music part is free".  whats that meme floating around ?

LOCAL MUSICIAN : SOMEONE THAT PUTS $5000 WORTH OF GEAR IN A CAR WORTH $500, DRIVES  100 MILES FOR $50.  

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1 hour ago, Big Bill said:

The worse part is breaking down at the end of the night. I agree, it's not worth the extra $100 I would get. I will never play in another working band.

 

42 minutes ago, kidblast said:

These days it really is more likely that the hassles just out weigh the benefits.   at my age, It just doesn't compute.

 

 

 

theres been times I've taken a year or two off from playing out cuz I just got burnt out on it all, or fed up with unprofessional bandmates. but I'm closing in on 60 and I've only got so many days left on this earth. I kinda want to play as long as I'm physically able. my back is getting kinda bad.  by the last set it's so stiff I struggle to lean over to breakdown some of my gear. 

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I have learned in my life that there is no absolute formula to anything regarding humanity.  We are all different and we all have different journeys through life.  I find myself very content living the family life, playing in my basement on my expensive Gibson guitars while paying for nearly everything I own on credit with the money my corporation gives me in my periodic paychecks.  Nothing prevents me from smiling in the mirror every morning while I prepare to grind it out for the benefit of my family.  God, am I triggered, haha!  Peace be with you Notes. 

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