Formatting Your Circumstances
Updated: Jun 22, 2022
There’s an old saying - if you want to be a millionaire, surround yourself with millionaires. The same can be said for musicians, especially musicians who are working in parts of the industry that you’d like to be working in.
Now, while this isn’t always the easiest of tasks (and if you’ve been doing this gigging thing for a while, you’ll probably have noticed that like minded groups of musicians usually seem to stick together), believe it or not - it is doable, so here are a few tips on how you can ‘break on through to the other side’.
Be Realistic -
Be realistic about where it is that you are hoping to go within the industry and set your goals accordingly. Once you have this figured out, it’s much easier to create a road map to how you’re going to get there, the different roads you could potentially take along the way and even find out who some of the players who may have already traveled to this destination are. Be honest about your ability before you decide that you just want to ‘hang out’ with these players and most importantly, do not put yourself in situations that just waste someone else's time. Waste someone's time once, and they’re likely not going to give it to you as easily a second time, should such an opportunity ever arise again.
Be Sociable -
Once you’ve figured out a few things and done your research on the players who are already doing the task it is you’re wishing to do, make an effort to go out to their gigs and be sociable. If you get the chance to introduce yourself (or even have a conversation) with one of these players, be polite and remember to be intelligent enough to read the social cues as to when it might be time for you to go. Also, remember, that just because a person you don't really know is kind enough to give you some of their time, it does not automatically mean that you’re suddenly best friends. Be courteous, gracious and considerate that the person you’re with might only have a few minutes while on a break, or in between sets etc. You can always get to another one of their gigs, plus - after you’ve introduced yourself once, it’s much easier to hopefully have another conversation somewhere down the line.
Stay Humble -
Let’s assume that you get the opportunity to meet or possibly once again talk with the previously mentioned player. Without being too forceful (or needy), see if they could maybe give you some guidance regarding your career. If you’re so inclined, be complementary of their skill set and if you’re bold enough, see if perhaps they’d be open to maybe chat with you about the more industry away from their gig sometime (afterall - it is their workplace).
If he/she agrees to meet you then please, please, please be smart enough to not make the whole conversation about you. This is a real opportunity that they have been kind enough to give you, so they don’t need to know how great you are, why you feel like you're over deserving, or how fast you can play your paradiddles. The goal here is not to USE people, but rather to try and actually build a real relationship, which may eventually become a real friendship which in turn just may lead you to what a lot of sidemen call the bro hookup. Keep in mind though, that there is no guarantee that you will ever get ‘hooked up’ as no one owes you anything. Also, obviously keep in mind that the more ‘bro’s you have’, the better you may increase your chances.
Be Ready -
Let’s say you’ve networked your butt off, made a few really good relationships and are finally getting to the point that the aforementioned ‘bros’ are passing your number on and recommending you for some of the work that they maybe don’t want to do. Make sure that you are prepared and don’t let them (or yourself down) skill wise. Like time-wasting, these ‘hookups’ do not come by very easily so you have to be ready. Remember, if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Again, be gracious and show appreciation to whoever may have ‘hooked you up’. They believed in you and trusted that you would not tarnish their name by fluffing up on their recommendation
In Conclusion - If you find yourself moving in the circles you initially had hoped you would be moving in, remember to pass it forward. Help the next guy as much as you were helped, the music industry is a beautiful thing and as mentioned before, there is space for everyone. Don’t be greedy, share the wealth.