Mark Hopkins is a Student Advisor at Berkleemusic.com. He finished his studies at Berklee College of Music, as a Guitarist/Songwriting Major, in 2009. Mark is a regular gigging musician who has toured extensively and released 6 albums in the past 10 years. You can hear some of Mark’s music on myspace.com/markhopkinsmusic
Here’s a question I get all the time as an advisor for the online school and as a working musician: How do I get my own gig?
There is a fine art to becoming a successful working musician. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be Picasso to do it (however, no finger painting, please). Half the battle is as simple as believing in your product. That’s right. I said your “product.” When you are a professional musician, you are in the sales industry. Don’t sweat it, though. You’re selling something you absolutely love: music!
Here’s a proof positive way to get ahead in your town’s music scene:
1) Fine tune your act. Whether it’s acoustic or a 7 piece funk/fusion band, you need to have a professional sounding product to turn some heads.
2) Explore Open Mic Nights. Where and when are they happening? What time do you need to be there to sign up? Grab the local city paper, scout it out online or in person. Be there early, shake a few hands, and get to know the other musicians. Most importantly, always be on time and make sure people know you are a reliable artist. That’s a rare commodity in the industry and you will shine amongst the group. Open Mics are a great resource to get your career started. Not only for the exposure, but also for the networking possibilities. I can’t tell you how many Open Mics I’ve done that have led to amazing opportunities.
3) Start thinking about how to market your product. You first and foremost need a Demo to start the grassroots campaign that will lead you to stardom. Don’t be afraid of rockin’ a Garageband demo. No need to be snobby about production quality—the most important thing is to have a solid song you can put in a future fan’s hand (we don’t notice how many hand claps are in your tune, and how they are mixed in perfectly with the snare drum).
4) Start handing out that Demo (with a flyer of your upcoming gigs) to every music lover you can find. “If you build it, they will come.” Sooner than later you’re gonna see some familiar faces at your shows. Sell your CD’s when you can, but don’t be afraid to hand them out in the beginning; consider it an investment in future merchandise sales.
5) Lastly, don’t forget to start an email list. Social networking is great, but Facebook and MySpace aren’t the alpha and omega. Fans still like getting personal emails from their favorite artists. On that note, give your fans a place to go besides typical social networking sites. Get an official website running where they can chat about how the new version, of that one tune, where you substituted a #9 chord for a regular old dominant seven, was mind blowing.
It’s a simple process, but it by no means takes minimal effort. Music is a business—the quicker you come to grips with that, the quicker you will see significant results. Most of all, as cheesy as it sounds, believe in what you’re doing. It will show through to your audience and the influential booking agents around you. Believe in what you do. It will take your career a long way.
Until next time, happy gigging!
Berkleemusic’s online summer term begins June 28, 2010.
Find out more at berkleemusic.com or contact a Student Advisor:
1-866-BERKLEE (USA) | +1 617 747 2146 (Intl) | email@example.com