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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Music Career Killers

Playing a gig image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
The ever entertaining DIY Musician blog has a post called "Music Career Killers! Sure Ways To Ruin Your Chances For Success" that's worth a read, but I thought I'd zero in one particular item.
"Music Career Killer #13: Playing every crap gig you get offered.
When you first start out you might as well play every show that comes along because this is valuable experience, and can even save you some money on the practice room. This becomes a career killer, though, when you continue to play every bad show that comes along in the hopes that it might just convert one new fan. 
Playing to empty rooms with no pay not only sucks, but it’s also like a cancer to your career because it will destroy your enthusiasm. Next time you get offered a bad show, turn it down and spend the evening connecting working toward getting a killer show. One really good gig is worth a hundred empty venues."
Anyone that's ever gigged a lot knows that there's nothing more disheartening than playing to empty rooms gig after gig. It might not be your fault at first, since maybe the only slot you can get is midnight on a Tuesday, but sooner or later this turns into a downward spiral that's tough to break out of.

The problem is that playing to empty houses allows you to slip into to bad habits both as a band and as a player that can be hard to snap out of later. You can easily start to run through the motions and slip out of a professional show just to keep things interesting, and then it's usually down-hill from there.

What's true is that even if there's only one person in the audience, you should play it as if there are 10,000, but that gets harder and harder the more empty gigs you play.

A story that I like to tell is about going to a club to listen to a band and there were only 7 people in the audience. Unbeknownst to the band, one was a major manager, another was a big agent, and the third was a major PR person; the other 3 people were friends of the band. The band sleepwalked through the set, leaving absolutely no impression on some people that might have been able to change their career had they played up to their capabilities.

So take Music Career Killer #13 to heart and resist playing any crappy gig just to play (unless your starting out). One gig truly can be worth a hundred empty venues.

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