Are you a percussionist, drummer or musician and are ready to go out there into the “real world” and make a go at it as a pro? If so I have some solid suggestions I have learned along the way I can share with you here. If you follow these tips you will be well on your way.
One thing I have noticed over the years and a very important life lesson for me has been that it is not usually the most talented or best player that get’s the great gigs, it is the person with the most outgoing personality, the person who networks and get’s out there. It’s an undeniable fact, and one that needs to be acknowledged if you are going to try and be in the music business.
I have seen so many talented people not succeed over the years do to a lack of confidence and self promotion. Let’s heal that right away. If you are good enough then be willing to tell the world about it as well!
Don’t be lazy about it. Get off the couch. Laziness is a form of not believing in ones self. So if you believe in yourself then the next step is to take action on your own behalf.
Remember this. If you have the talent and personality to be a performer then it is all about self promotion. You now have to sell yourself. You can still be yourself, but you will need to market yourself. No one is going to come knocking on your door looking for you. So you have to be “out there” and be seen playing if for example, you want to play in a band. One of the best things you can do it to find a band playing locally at a club and ask to sit in on a song or two on percussion (or whatever instrument it is that you play). Don’t ask or expect to get paid. You just want to be seen, heard and to start getting experience playing with bands. Do this as often as possible with a few different groups.
Whenever you have the opportunity, get out and play. Don’t concern yourself with money at first. Be seen and be heard. If you have the talent and personality, people will see you and interact with you. And if you don’t then it’s good to find that out early in the game as well. Playing percussion for a living is not easy and it takes a lot of persistence and you have to stick with it consistently over a long period of time. There is no other way other then just getting lucky. So remember to network.
I highly recommend you invite a friend to take a few photos of you whenever you play out or sit in with any bands and also a simple short video of you playing as well. Then you will have shots for a simple blog page and also video for Youtube. When you look for gigs, people are going to ask to see you, so the more you have the better.
You do not want to over expose yourself either. Eventually if you have the talent and friendly personality you will make contacts and maybe even be invited to join a group.
Stage presence is another important factor in attaining gigs. You need to look and be happy when you are playing. I am not saying to jump around like a monkey or act up on stage. Have fun and be fun. Make sure you are smiling as much as possible. I often see groups of people playing drums or in a band and they look miserable. This does not make an audience happy and it will not make someone want to be around you.
Remember whenever you go out to play wherever it is be sure to be groomed well, clean and always look and act your best. Have clothing ready that say’s who you are and make sure that it is on par with other players in your particular genre as well. Have fun when you are on stage and keep your eyes open for contact with other players, especially if you are sitting in with a new group. Watch for cues, breaks, sudden stops or calls in or out. If you are not certain play quieter when you think a break or stop may be coming.
My experience is you can almost always sense or tell when a break is coming if you pay attention especially to the leader of the group. This will impress people if you do not miss breaks and it makes you more desirable as someone who understands their music right off the bat.
Be sure to have a business card made to hand someone when you are done playing or if someone see’s you playing and wants information about you. This shows you are organized and professional and not just some thunder drummer. We live in an age and in societies where advertising is essential. Don’t be shy about making and posting flyers about whatever it is you are promoting as well.
You can also post “percussionist available” on various musicians sites on line, or answer someone else’s advertisement on one of the numerous websites on line. There are too many to list here and you can simply do a google search and find them for yourself. Postering is another method for advertising yourself as is taking out a classified ad in a local newspaper. Ads work over a period of time, sometimes months so you have to be prepared to wait it out.
Another way to meet people is at your local drum shop or music store(s). Make friends with the percussion department there and let them know you are available if anyone comes to town and needs a percussionist. If you are proficient and have a knack for teaching and want to start teaching you can also start at your local shop. Let them know you are available.
If you are new to this game you may not have enough data on yourself to fill out a good resume but start working on a creative positive resume, a sum up of who you are and what you have done.
A blog can be helpful as well. If you have the means or know how, or even have a friend to help you then a personal blog can be aplace where you promote yourself, tie in your Youtube, photos, videos, philosophy and resume or personal data as well. I like to call the linking of my Facebook, Youtube and blog, the “triad”, as the three feed each other in a positive way.
As I mentioned above, if you can have a few Youtube videos of yourself playing it is very helpful in self promotion. If you are not already on Youtube, then get on it. It is free and a great place to post your home made videos as well. Whenever anyone asks to see you playing you can direct them to your Youtube site. It is also a great place to connect with other percussionists and drummers of all types from around the world.
So I hope all these ideas help you and inspire you to get it together by getting organized and promoting yourself in a way that makes sense to you and based on who you are as a creative individual.