J.P. Kallio’s Musician Quick Tips Pt. 9
by J.P. Kallio
A new week and I have part 9 of of my musician quick tips. In my nearly two decades as a full time musician I have learned a thing or two about this business. I also have become very fast at assessing what works and what does not when it comes to promoting, recording and performing your music.
These quick tips are simple actions that you can put to use straight away.
That little bit extra
I often get asked by friends who see me work well past what would be considered the “normal hours”, why would I bother? The answer is, because I care. I am passionate about what I do. If I stay up an extra hour and write another blog post that might be interest to some one, and as a result they visit my website and end up listening to one of my songs, well then it was worth it. As I mentioned before, it is not the big steps, it’s a lot of small steps that will build a sustainable career in the music business for an independent artist.
Yes there is a point when your work becomes unproductive, when you pack in the long hours and you need to rest. But this does not mean you should not push your self. If you want results, you need to work hard.
Sometimes it is that little extra bit of effort that separates you from your competition. It is that extra few hours of midnight oil that make you stand out from the crowd. So I ask you this, could you have done more today?
Playing in a new venue
I have a check list I go through every time I play in a new venue. First impressions are very important and especially when you are trying to build a new working relationship. This list is especially relevant to Dublin music scene, but also all around Europe. So here is my list:
1. Check out in advance what equipment the venue have. It is not the venues job to provide you instruments. Unless we are talking about pro venue, the chances are that some of the channels on the house desk are not in the best possible shape, microphones stands (if there are any working ones) will probably not tighten up, or even stay up. And I hope you don’t even think about using those house microphones that every band for the past ten years have used and left on the floor at the end of the show. What ever is missing, bring your own.
2. Find out what time you are expected to start, how long is your set and if there is a break in the set and for how long. Stick to the times! This is a deal breaker.
3. Make friends with the staff, but don’t be too pushy.
4. Don’t leave a mess behind
5. Be respectful to the other bands.
6. If there is a sound engineer, thank them. And if possible, buy them a beer.
7. Promote the gig online, and make sure the venue notices this as well. You can do this by tagging the venues Facebook page or Twitter in any posts and pictures you post. And always thank the venue online after the show.
There you go. The list can go on for much longer, but these are the mistakes I see over and over again. What would you add to the list?
Act like nothing happened
Here’s a one thing to do during a live show that will make you look instantly more professional. During a live show things will go wrong, people will make mistakes, that’s just the nature of it. No matter how prepared you are, nothing will prepare you for the pressure of being under pressure in the live situation.
So when something goes wrong, or some one makes a mistake, act like nothing happened. It’s the first rule of acting, and the same goes for live music. Don’t stop, don’t curse or look angry, don’t point out your band mate and laugh, or even worse, give out to them. You think people don’t notice? They do! Forgot the fact that you are standing in front of a crowd?
Nothing looks more unprofessional than band fighting during live show, or band giving out over the microphone to the sound man. There is plenty of time for it after the show. Suck it up and act like nothing happened.
Today’s Quick tip is all about using Twitter’s Direct Message (Also known as DM) to promote your music. I’m sure some of you will have a critical view of this, but then again if us musicians stayed away from everything criticised by some of you, we’d never get our music out. In all honesty I have contacted a lot of people through Twitter DM and my personal negative feedback has been less than one in 10000.
There is a fine line between spamming and genuinely connecting with people. If you assume that people want to hear your music, you set your self to fail straight away. If you just send a link, and ask them to check out your music, you are not really giving them any reason to do so.
What I recommend is trying to engage them conversation. Let them know there is a real person behind the message, and then politely ask if they would be interested in hearing your music. And if you get a positive reply, then and only then send them a link. Think of it just like being in a party and talking to strangers. You don’t start by pushing your music on them. You get to know them first. Or if you do, you definitely are “that” strange person in the party that every one is trying to avoid. It’s the same thing online.
Today’s quick tip is one of those hard cold facts of music business that every one try to pretend it does not matter, but it is the key to the success of your career. You need to accept the fact that everything comes down to sales.
Whether you record music and sell it directly from your website, or through distribution company, or your main income is in the live show, you need to be able to sell. Now before you bury your head in the sand and start trying to face the fact, let me put it this way. Good sales man is great at telling their story. And this is what you need to do. I talked about the importance of your story HERE in a previous Quick tip.
Of course your art should come first, without it you have nothing to sell. And the better your product is, easier it will be to sell it. But you need to be able to tell people the story of your product in an engaging way. And this task is up to you, no one else. No record company marketing department can tell your own story as well as you can, if you put the hard work in. The tools are out there, the market is volatile and first time ever the independents have a chance to bite of a big chunk of it. So learn how to sell.
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