The music industry is a ridiculously competitive field. With many musicians willing to work for free or very close to free, it makes it hard for professionals to compete. So what’s a young pro musician to do? Here are 5 ways to be more successful at getting work:
1. Become the industry expert at something small.
Having a single defining skill that you are amazing at can help tip the scales in your favor when it comes to landing a big gig. I specialize in synth heavy keyboards, and I’ve been hired for gigs because I have a reputation for knowing how to program difficult synth parts and pull them off live.
Ironically, many of those gigs that I’ve been hired for where the client specifically chose me for my synth skills only had a couple of synth heavy tracks. My programming synths were what got me in the door, but my other skills where what kept me in the room.
2. Diversify your skillset.
As long as you’re amazing at one thing, having a variety of skills that you’re “pretty good” at are vital to keeping you working. Many time band leaders and artists will have to make some hard choices about what they can afford for a gig, and if you can cover a few job types at a time you’ll get hired more often.
3. Keep your business really, really lean.
Stop buying overly expensive gear and pricing yourself out of the market. Don’t rent studio space where you have to pay a couple thousand dollars a month or get evicted. Don’t have a standard of living that demands you charge huge amounts of money for your work.
You’re a business. Keeping your costs low will allow you to competitively price yourself.
4. Be fast, low drama, and high quality.
Once you’ve landed the gig, delivering on your work is what will keep you working in the future. Have quick turn around times and give accurate estimates of when the work will be done. Communicate with the client regularly about what’s going on with the project, and deliver a consistently high level of work.
Consistent quality in your work is the single biggest thing that will keep clients coming back and new clients coming through the door.
5. Stay connected.
Don’t bug people, but it’s vital to have regular contact with your past clients. I’ve been surprised how receptive people I’ve worked with in the past are to texts- I’ll send a quick text every other month to check up or share something fun/helpful with most of my clients, and they seem to appreciate it. When people are looking to book a gig, mind share is everything.