The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  1. #1

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    As a solo performer. I've started going a couple hours early to my solo gig to make sure everything is working. But lately I've also used as a sounding board on a small (between lunch and dinner crowd) to try out new tune arrangements. Especially more pop oriented tunes. (Stevie Wonder, Nora Jones, Sting etc.) Not just for the audience but for me to try out, i.e. does this key work, can I play this without a crash and burn, is the melody working etc. Nobody's complained so far and I've even been able to talk to audience members in a more casual setting to feel them out. Anybody else do this with success?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    DON'T play prior to, or after, set gig times without compensation whether it's more tips from a crowd that wants more, or additional income the venue management agrees to up front, or both. To be blunt, never play additional time for free even if the gig pays you otherwise. If the gig is from 9-12 you start at 9 on the money and end and 12 on the money unless the 20 and 50 spots are flying into your tip bucket AND management is ok with music after or prior to set times. If you previously played for free and you've got an appreciative crowd you just threw a potential for greater base pay out the door. A working musician can't afford such mistakes.

    IF you play extra, or for free, you may next time be expected to play extra, or for free. Or another venue will hear about your extras and freebies and hire you and pay you based on that. Now you've got a reputation out there. I know it's art, but it's business first on the performing end and artists who play for free or cheap are generally treated like people treat anything gotten for free. The lowest paying venues always treat you the worst, I speak from experience, hundreds, thousands of gigs. Venues that pay well generally have a level of respect and care given something that is costly and valued.

    Work up new material and introduce it to an audience you are getting paid to play for. Judge the reaction you get from what you rehearsed and work-up outside the stage on your own time. You could butcher a song and someone important could be watching in the audience that might otherwise lead to another good paying gig. Now you've made a poor impression and blown that chance and your name and reputation with that individual. Word of mouth is almost the sum-total of your future business. Stage is for well rehearsed, best foot forward material unless live performance is just a hobby for you.

    ALWAYS show up an hour early to have time in case of a difficult load-in and to have some extra time to troubleshoot any technical difficulties that might arise when you soundcheck your gear. Showing up earlier than that essentially just reduces your hourly wages.

    Hopefully I didn't come off too brash, just sharing some business lessons no one seems to teach in a classroom so hopefully you can avoid some of the pitfalls. Best of fortunes on all your musical endeavors.