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INTRODUCTION : How To Become a Full Time Musician. Part 1 of Our 6 Part Blog Series

Are you are a person that has musical talent? Can you play one or more musical instruments? Do you feel comfortable sing in public? If you answered yes than you might consider becoming a full time musician or working in a related field like being a DJ.
In this 6 part blog series we will give you an insight into how you can achieve these goals and start to earn a comfortable living doing what you love. One of the most important factors to consider when entering into any new field is to determine if there is a need for the service that you are providing. Whatever you attempt has to be marketable in order to make a profit. You perform by providing entertainment, and in exchange receive money for your services. If you can do this on a regular basis, you can become successful. If you are unable for one reason or another, you will fail.

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Photo by Chad Kirchoff on

Your market will include, but not be limited to a person, group of people, or organization that requires a specific service, for example music. Marketing that product means simply preparing your product (music) and making it available to the consumer. A rock and roll club needs rock bands, Texas always needs country music, and Las Vegas needs production numbers with style.

The person going to a concert wants to be entertained, the bar owner wants a big crowd as his cover charge helps to pay you, and the bride wants her wedding to be a hit and also memorable.

If you can follow these simple principles when you are out trying to book appearances for your musical enterprises, you will find work. The seriousness of your ambitions is what will help you accomplish these goals and determine whether you can make a lot of money or not. Just make sure that you are willing to do what it takes to be a success. Regardless of your personal style, competition, musical ability, tenacity, or your overall business sense, you can make it – or not. The only way to fail is to quit or to never try at all.


What do we do now?

You are looking to play music, have fun doing it, and maybe even make some money at the same time. There are a lot of different types of bookings available and we will explore the options. Information will be a key factor in helping you to make the choices between the options that present themselves.

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Photo by Kenny T. from Broke Leg Music

Some of the thouthts you might have that could affect a decision are:

Am I good enough to do this for a living?

Can I read music?

What is the going rate for my performance?

Where can I find work?

Is singing important to making money?

Should I hook up with an established group?

Do I start my own band?

How do I make a steady living with my skill set?

How do I locate others to play with?

How do we rehearse our musical performances to benefit us financially?

After careful consideration of these questions, you should have a clear understanding of where you would like to go and how to begin to achieve it.

Most people like to listen to music that they already are familiar with and supplying them with their preferences is the key to making a living playing music. Stick with the cover tunes for now, as they may be familiar to your audience. Use them to warm up, expand your list of tunes, increase your versatility, and become familiar with the other musicians that you either work with or come in contact with.

If you decide to work in some original tunes later on there are a few things to remember. You can make a living as a musician playing cover tunes. Just work in some of your original materials into your performance. Keep a job during the day to support yourself so that you can try out your original works. If you are lucky you have someone that will support you until you make it with your original songs. In any case, do your best to have fun in whatever you do.

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Independent Musician

In general, an independent musician is one who is not working for any one particular place of employment and is usually not restricted by contract to an individual gig. Work when you can, where and as often as you can. Generally, you’ll be responsible for your own taxes, like any other self-employed person. To freelance, you should have a higher skill level and that may be developed by playing with groups, school bands, and other musical ensembles. During this time, the talents necessary to make it in the business can be developed, songs can be learned, and getting used to working with others will give you a lift up along the ladder to success. This is the period of time necessary to learn the tunes that other successful groups are playing.

Where are the jobs and who is going to be there?
Word of mouth is still king in this kind of business. If you are a big hit with 100 people than they will tell 100 people and so on.

You can find a place to work anywhere that people get together. It could be a social event, a party, or someone’s home. If there is a floor there, musicians can set up to play. The possible places for engagements is limited only by your imagination. You can get a booking at your local bar, on a ship, in a shopping mall, at a club, church, shopping center, parking lots, on a bus, department stores, offices, at the beach, sports stadiums, trade shows, virtually anywhere people congregate or listen to music.

One very important aspect of making money in this business is to try to book gigs yourself, or have one member of your group appointed to get the word out and handle all aspects of the bookings.

Types of bookings and the right music

Restaurants, clubs, hotels – Generally, you should see what type of atmosphere that particular establishment is trying to specialize in and play accordingly. If you are with a country band it would not make sense to book in a rock and roll club, and vice versa.

County fairs, fund-raisers, and amusement oriented gatherings – There are many opportunities for a varied source of musical expression. The larger amusement parks hire full time musicians to entertain the day to day crowds, and those groups may specialize in classical, country, rhythm and blues, or big band era music. All you have to do is call them, see who hires the various groups, and arrange for an audition.

Rehearsals and showcases – There are many people in the business that put on a number of productions during the course of the year. These may include dance recitals, musical extravaganzas, plays, or any of hundreds of other possibilities. Each of these may be an opportunity to find work. Weddings – Several types of music may be used at a wedding. Among them are background music before the wedding reception, processional and recessional music, dinner music, dance music, and ethnic specialties.

Schools – Music schools, colleges, recording schools, private music schools, and audio and video schools may need some background melody to help to convey a certain idea, image, or effect. These jobs will normally require that you can read music on sight.

Private parties – These types of bookings can be very broad based, from a cruise on a private yacht to a six year olds birthday party, a store’s grand opening, or a trade or fashion show.

Ethnic oriented – Party music for a specific segment of the population may require some extra diversification into other areas of music that you may not be called on to perform often. If you are at a Hispanic wedding, you may need to play some Latin American songs as well as the traditional ones in your repertoire. If your group can be versatile, it can only help you to book more jobs in the future.

Churches and Temples – In general, each will employ a director of music whose responsibility will include acquiring an organist, soloist or other type of musician such as a keyboard artist in order to facilitate the proper completion of services or social gatherings. These bookings usually result in long term employment.

Freelancing – Many opportunities are available to the group or individual that can be versatile and has a higher level of expertise in playing his instrument. Not everyone can play at the same level so they cannot possibly do the same kind of work. In addition to the bookings mentioned earlier, there are a myriad of other opportunities including; Sporting Events, Rodeos, Ballet, Beauty Pageants, Theater, Political Rallies, Comedies, and even TV and Radio. Lately, the Internet has come into play with musical opportunities to showcase your talents and test market new arrangements and material.

In order to keep yourself working and earning as much as possible, it will be necessary to become as versatile as possible and know many differing types of music.

That is the end of Part 1

Keep on the lookout for part 2 coming soon

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