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  1. #1

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    What helps get you through hustling sessions? The endless writing of emails that probably won’t be read in the knowledge that if you don’t do it you definitely won’t get the gig...

    Necessary, important work for a performing musician, but hard to get motivated about sometimes.

    What are your favourite psychological tricks or ideas for getting through it?

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  3. #2

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    a) Only do it when you feel like it.
    b) Don't use email.

    The Professor’s Guide to Hustling Gigs – The Syncopated Times

  4. #3

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    I always reminded myself that if I didn't hustle, I didn't gig; and if I didn't gig, how would I fund my GAS?
    Also, eating is good. So is sleeping indoors.
    Best regards, k

  5. #4

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    But after a while they found you, no? I mean I don't spend much time if any trying to solicit a gig by email, I hate it! Most of my hustling is figuring out the logistics or negotiating for a gig that already almost set.

    Maybe that's why I never have enough haha? I should do more hustling, but man I hate to do things that I hate to do.

    Once though it paid off. I emailed one place where they have live music on rotation, and with a good reference! Heard nothing back. I got pissed off and start sending exactly the same email twice week, thinking if I can't get the gig at least I'll annoy the f..k outta them. After 6 months they responded! They loved us ever since and we play there regularly haha.

  6. #5

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    O man , networking ...
    It's been 20 years since I've had any proper professional musical work but I still remember the feeling of abject shame I got from having to be ' amenable ' to some bellend that in normal circumstances I wouldn't give the time of day to , just because they organised some shitty festival . Not that I'm bitter or anything ...

    I don't really have any terribly practical advice except try to identify people that are ' nodes of influence ' in the arts/music world . Make sure they know who you are , even if it means wearing the same silly hat and hanging out at their club every night . In every scene , culture , loosely organised activity there are people , not neccessarily obviously powerful , but they know everyone and everything that's happening , they are the ones to cultivate .

    Of course everything's changed these days , maybe it's all about web presence .

    A lot of people I knew back in the day , myself included would busk and get a lot of work ( and sometimes good money ) through simple street exposure .

    If that doesn't work try taking all your clothes off and running around Parliament Square , screaming .

  7. #6

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    It’s not really practical advice on how to do it that I seek - more just wondering how others motivate themselves to do it.

    @Hep - I’ve always found swing gigs relatively straightforward to get... hustling other types of music, well it’s starting a little at square one ....

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    a) Only do it when you feel like it.
    b) Don't use email.

    The Professor’s Guide to Hustling Gigs – The Syncopated Times
    Actually everything’s done through email now.

    Except for the older generation who run a lot of the smaller/provincial jazz clubs they like phone calls. They like to chat actually.

    Although face to face networking is undeniably important. That said I’ve chatted up plenty of seemingly enthusiastic club bookers in the flesh only to get nothing. And I’ve got gigs at jazz clubs through unsolicited emails. It’s crazy that people do that, innit?

    The big thing with promoters is social media. That’s a real chore lol.

    Also if I only did it when I felt like I would never do it haha.

  9. #8

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    I use the phone for first contact, and email for followup, with links to video or audio tracks that will be relevant to the gig. However, if it's a club or festival thing, they're much more interested in your following than your music. For senior or school work, the music is paramount, along with your ability to entertain while you're playing and/or singing.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    It’s not really practical advice on how to do it that I seek - more just wondering how others motivate themselves to do it.

    @Hep - I’ve always found swing gigs relatively straightforward to get... hustling other types of music, well it’s starting a little at square one ....
    Actually I dont do swing gigs if by that you mean playing for dancers. Im out of the loop, and not by my own free will. Well screw them.

    I play mostly original music with my project, and market it as swing/blues/bugaloo. We also incorporate some surf tunes and rocknroll. It goes down well in bars, so we have steady days.

    Also more NOLA with another project. I just call it party music, it could be mix of anything that fun. So people call us if they need that vibe.

    But naturally im pretty lazy and spaced out to do much emailing and promotion. It shows in my slow career haha. I do it if it comes my way of course... What can I say, Im slackening, but my mental health is better off for that!

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    Actually I dont do swing gigs if by that you mean playing for dancers. Im out of the loop, and not by my own free will. Well screw them.

    I play mostly original music with my project, and market it as swing/blues/bugaloo. We also incorporate some surf tunes and rocknroll. It goes down well in bars, so we have steady days.

    Also more NOLA with another project. I just call it party music, it could be mix of anything that fun. So people call us if they need that vibe.

    But naturally im pretty lazy and spaced out to do much emailing and promotion. It shows in my slow career haha. I do it if it comes my way of course... What can I say, Im slackening, but my mental health is better off for that!
    Sure, yeah for dancers, bars, clubs, whatever. I too write and play originals like that... No, I don't play swing dance festivals any more. I'm not a dancer and I don't have those connections anyway even if I particularly wanted to.

    But there's a lot of gigs in music that is fun and entertaining. Who'd have thunk it, eh? Obviously the more you gig the more you get booked...

    But I can't just do that stuff... I have to have some more modern jazz projects on the go. There's always going to be a smaller audience for that - and an oversupply of bloody good jazz guitarists ...

  12. #11

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    The key thing for me was deciding to stop looking for jazz gigs that didn't exist and start looking for gigs playing music that people really liked to hear enough to leave their home. Playing in a Monday night only gig/rehearsal big band was good for networking. Reaching out via 16 other active musicians was helpful. Lots of introductions.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Sure, yeah for dancers, bars, clubs, whatever. I too write and play originals like that... No, I don't play swing dance festivals any more. I'm not a dancer and I don't have those connections anyway even if I particularly wanted to.

    But there's a lot of gigs in music that is fun and entertaining. Who'd have thunk it, eh? Obviously the more you gig the more you get booked...

    But I can't just do that stuff... I have to have some more modern jazz projects on the go. There's always going to be a smaller audience for that - and an oversupply of bloody good jazz guitarists ...
    Well yea in that case there is probably more hustling required. I dunno, I never had ambitions to play modern jazz, I dont think I can really compete on NYC scene for that tbh.

    Even the music I write for my own pleasure more blues and pop bound than serious jazz composition. So no stress on missing out on those gigs. But in general I think, again, they supposed to call you or your band, it should just happen naturally IMO. Or am I delusional?

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Actually everything’s done through email now.
    I'm sure, but this is music. In my day we went around with a short demo tape. And got the gigs as well as some fresh air :-)

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I'm sure, but this is music. In my day we went around with a short demo tape. And got the gigs as well as some fresh air :-)
    This is not too effective anymore.

    We go around with instruments and play a coupla tunes at any bar that let us and get gigs, drinks, tips, fresh air and good times. Thats so old school that its new school again.

  16. #15

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    That's called busking!

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    That's called busking!
    To a point, yes. But it's been far more effective to get gigs this way than just walk in and hand over a tape or CD. I always had a feeling they go straight to the garbage bin most of the time anyway.

    Of course, these days a strong social media presence goes a long way. But I really really hope that amount of 'likes' you're have on your pages should and would not be a deciding factor anymore. It's got so fake! People can buy the subscribers and comments and likes literally without backing it up with any music product.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    Well yea in that case there is probably more hustling required. I dunno, I never had ambitions to play modern jazz, I dont think I can really compete on NYC scene for that tbh.

    Even the music I write for my own pleasure more blues and pop bound than serious jazz composition. So no stress on missing out on those gigs. But in general I think, again, they supposed to call you or your band, it should just happen naturally IMO. Or am I delusional?
    I think you are lucky to find something that you enjoy so much that is also connecting with audiences.

    I don’t think anyone will call you if they’ve not heard your band. That’s kind of the situation I’m in at the moment with my project.... at some point it reaches more of a critical mass. But that’s a ways down the road.

    I think there’s also probably more room for doing different stuff in London than in NYC.

    But my music is pretty conventional atm. I think it will go its own way.... that said I kind of don’t like being limited by a style, and we all know contemporary jazz can be just as tropy and stylised as early jazz.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I'm sure, but this is music. In my day we went around with a short demo tape. And got the gigs as well as some fresh air :-)
    Nowadays you have to have a professionally produced video.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    To a point, yes. But it's been far more effective to get gigs this way than just walk in and hand over a tape or CD. I always had a feeling they go straight to the garbage bin most of the time anyway. .
    I never said 'just' go and hand it in. Usually we knew them or they wanted live acts, etc. There was chat, maybe a drink, what kind of stuff they wanted, etc etc. And, seeing as the gigs arrived, the demos weren't treated as junk mail. Maybe after they saw us live :-)

    I jest

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Nowadays you have to have a professionally produced video.
    Sure. I'm talking years ago. I've no doubt it's all quite different now. They probably wouldn't even have a tape player these days!

  22. #21

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    Yeah it really depends what type of a gig you are hustling. That's part of the job, knowing how to go about it...

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Sure. I'm talking years ago. I've no doubt it's all quite different now. They probably wouldn't even have a tape player these days!
    Tape? They won't have CD. Or even downloads. Everything is streaming playlists, unless you go to some hipster place where they play vinyl or some such.

    One way out of it is take your band and play for them. Do a 15m audition... Not really an option for me these days, but kids get gigs doing that.

    EDIT: Oh look I just called Hep a 'kid' hehe

  24. #23

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    I wouldn't know where to start now, personally. Thank god your music's a bit more eclectic than straight pop, it must limit the venues to much more upmarket and selective places.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    What are your favourite psychological tricks or ideas for getting through it?
    I make a physical list of small, actionable things that I can do and cross off. when I find that I'm not getting an item done, or procrastinating on something, it's often because the item is scoped incorrectly.

    example: "book a gig for 24th in between NYC and NC": this was a task I had written for myself, but I put it off for far too long because it's actually a lot of small tasks. it's only after I broke it down that I started to make progress, I did things like:
    - find 3 clubs that have live music in charlottesville.
    - email 3 clubs in charlottesville
    etc...

    as long as I make a task small enough, even I cannot rationalize not doing it. so I basically just make tasks increasingly smaller until I do them. sounds a bit crazy, but it works for me when I'm stuck.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    I make a physical list of small, actionable things that I can do and cross off. when I find that I'm not getting an item done, or procrastinating on something, it's often because the item is scoped incorrectly.

    example: "book a gig for 24th in between NYC and NC": this was a task I had written for myself, but I put it off for far too long because it's actually a lot of small tasks. it's only after I broke it down that I started to make progress, I did things like:
    - find 3 clubs that have live music in charlottesville.
    - email 3 clubs in charlottesville
    etc...

    as long as I make a task small enough, even I cannot rationalize not doing it. so I basically just make tasks increasingly smaller until I do them. sounds a bit crazy, but it works for me when I'm stuck.
    Yes this is so true. You break it up into small achievable things to stop yourself from getting overwhelmed. Great point.

    Actually breaking it down is sometimes itself quite an involved task.

  27. #26

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    Cathouses would have been easier :-)

  28. #27

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    As some point you have to consider yourself a salesperson, selling your business.

    Then you have to look at yourself as being in business with the person hiring you. And you 'sell yourself first' - -then your product or service.

    And maybe the next ' Rule Number One is: " Ask for the business. " ( cause half the other folks never do )....ask for the gig, seminar etc etc.....they can't hire you ( 'buy' ), if you don't ask. And then shut up - -'cause then the next one who speaks is the buyer !!


    And you'll have to take my word for it, after 35 years of being a salesman w/decent training throughout . All the newest how to books on selling are re-hashing concepts that have been around since day one. 'Selling is selling' and the same principles apply whether you're selling a guitarist or cars or etc etc., and whether it's 1935 or 2019..

    Good luck !!

  29. #28

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    Actually the thing that I find extraordinary is that there are people you can contact who don’t know you who love music so much they are willing to hire you on trust to turn up and play good music. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Actually the thing that I find extraordinary is that there are people you can contact who don’t know you who love music so much they are willing to hire you on trust to turn up and play good music. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it.
    I'm pretty positive that at least half of the places I've booked never even bothered to listen to my music.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    I'm pretty positive that at least half of the places I've booked never even bothered to listen to my music.
    That's a good ratio I would say lol

  32. #31

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    I've done it, never enjoyed it, and don't do it any more.

    The only music I'd be interested in performing, as leader, is Brazilian jazz. There's a market for the great players, but I'm not at that level.

    I've had opportunities for club gigs, but I've been reluctant. The money is difficult. I'd only want to do it with great players and I don't want to offer them insulting money. And, then, I'd be responsible for filling the house and I don't know that I could do it. I play with several bassists, drummers and kb players and I can't hire all of them. Feels like a lot of work with a substantial risk of being unhappy at the end.

    So, nowadays my gigs are sideman gigs. Fortunately, I don't need to support myself with music.