Be Real, Be Honest, and Make Music Your Life
by Holden Young, creator of the a funk-rock power trio of lunatics on pogo-sticks.
In my first four years touring, booking, and performing my original music I have learned that there is more to making it in the music world than being the best musician. Although I received my education from a respected music college, I was still green coming into the music world. After college, I knew I wanted to perform the original music I was creating at home but, I still had no real playing experience in a live-setting or any idea about how to begin. I hadn’t been a part of any of the bands in college that got a name for themselves. So, I had to create a way to do music my own way with a limited set of tools.
That being said, I have earned my living solely from performing and teaching music for the past two years without having to get a day-job! I have found that a lot of the players in college who were considered the best are having a harder time making rent than some of the more determined underdogs. Because I was not the best musician, I had to be REAL and HONEST about what I could offer a venue when booking a gig. For me, honesty has worked better than any trick out there! Hopefully, my experience will help you on your own path.
When I call a venue, I try to tell the booking person exactly what I have to offer in a very short amount of time. A bartender or bar owner can see through any bullshit you might think to say. It really is best to tell them as succinctly as possible your situation: I am just starting out as a performer but would provide posters, contact the newspaper, perform certain *style of music that fits their venue and would perform 3-4 hours of music. This honest professionalism is enough to get you a gig in a smaller You do not need to tout your ability, pretend like everyone knows who you are, or lie about how many people you can bring through the door. Industry secret: If you can perform a halfway decent 3-4 hour show, show up on time, not get drunk at your show and be mildly-polite, a club will book you again and again.
Here are a few examples:
I am just starting to perform but I have positive, funky, rock roll songs that people like to dance to.
I am booking shows for my own band. We are just getting started but have good songwriting, vocals and a really great drummer (or guitarist or bassist, whoever shines among the group as a player).
We have performed only a few shows but can provide 3-4 hours of *________ music.
For me, this honest and real marketing has turned into:
I have been performing all over Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Utah & Arizona for the past 4 years. We draw amount of people and perform a professional, funky and danceable show.
This is a great place to be! We perform both small and large venues and draw more and more people in all of the markets that we regularly perform. After four years, we are starting to receive calls from venues and that feels pretty good. Your musical ability is an amazing and powerful gift. Don’t short-change yourself with tricky booking tactics. Remember, if you are putting yourself out into the world as a musician, own it! This is your life! Be honest, be real, and I believe you can find success. Good luck out there!
* The style of music you perform probably crosses a few genres. To book a venue that has never heard of you, do a little research and see what they advertise their bands as sounding-like. Some venues would rather have Hard Rock over Rock or World music but not Reggae All it takes is finding out how they describe their bands on their website or in local newspapers and then being able to perform a good show of whatever you do! Most people have pretty open ears even if the terms they use to describe their music is limited.