5 Tips I’ve Heard From Top Nashville Sidemen

The knowledge of music that is Nashville continues to wash over me, deconstructing everything I think I know about how the music business works, tinkering with it, and then putting it back together in ways I never could have dreamed. And I’m the one stuck scratching my head, holding a bunch of pieces left over that I thought should have gone on somewhere. 


Of all the mind-mixing tips I’ve received so far, here are what I think might be the most helpful (note: as I learn more these are likely to change.): 


1. Talk to everyone. Networking with as many other musicians as possible will always help your career, especially if you make it less about career and more about friendship. Don’t look for work- look for friends that are in the same field with you. 


2. Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Take gigs outside of what style you’d prefer to play, and you’ll work a lot more than you would if you pick a specific style. As your reputation grows, you can focus more on your specific genre. 


3. You probably won’t work a lot at first, and that’s fine. Building a reputation takes time, and you’ll have to earn people’s trust before you get a call to play a gig.


4. Prep like your career depended on it. You get a few seconds onstage to prove who you are, and how well you’ve prepared before the audience and other musicians make a judgement. Make sure you maximize those first few minutes.


5. Don’t take gigs you don’t think you can be good at. It’s okay to say no to work if you know you can’t do it well enough to get by.