Before I met my husband, I would randomly wonder how, exactly, you get a job as a touring musician. It’s not like the jobs open are listed on Careerbuilder.com or Monster.com. Do you have a resume? Do you fill out an application? How does this work!?
I’ve discovered being a touring musician straddles two phenomenons: having a job and being self-employed. I find that fact alone to be the hardest thing to convey to anyone outside of the industry. (However, I’ve also found it to be a common phenomenon in the blogging world.)
You are self-employed, in that you have to own your own gear, and you can be “playing for” as many as three or four artists at a time. Sometimes you do session work (recording albums). Other times you just pick up gigs where you can find them around town.
You “have a job” when you work for an artist full-time, and your pay is based on how many shows are booked for your boss. Occasionally, “the boss” will put the band on a salary, and you make a flat rate no matter how many shows you play.
Ultimately, the income of a touring musician can come from many different avenues and ways. But, still, the question remains: how do you GET these jobs? And beyond that, what can other industries learn from those musicians who get the work?
I’ve broken it down into five factors that decide who does and doesn’t get the job.
1. Talent. No matter what job you go for, you’re not going to get it if you can’t do it. For musicians, its musical talent, of course. For writers/bloggers, its an ability to write. For accountants, its knowing accounting rules. For doctors, its knowing how to diagnose illnesses, etc. At the end of the day, you can’t get a job that you can’t do. Period.
2. Resume. Even for a musician, having a solid resume can mean the difference between getting the gig or not getting it. Do you have any experience in performance? No? Then there’s going to be hesitation in hiring. This can be applied in all fields, of course. The more experience you have, the more valuable of a hire you could be to the company.
In blogging, your resume is your “about me” page. Tell me what makes you someone I should read. Tell me what makes you “an expert” in your field. Tell me why I should potentially contact you to write for me and my business (if you are looking for jobs such as this.)
3. Network. This is bigger for a musician than the resume, actually. Remember when I mentioned that its not like jobs are listed on a job site? Jobs are instead listed among the “good ol’ boys” of the industry. The last several jobs my husband has had he has gotten via networking. The last two he got by being recommended by fellow musicians. The more people you know (and impress!), the more job opportunities that come your way. Also, the more you are seen, the more likely it is that your name will be the first one thrown in the hat for a job.
This phenomenon can be found in multiple other industries. The more visible you are, the more likely you are to be thought of for a job. It’s why I don’t understand people not using Facebook, Twitter, etc. These are FREE ways to network to hundreds thousands of people at one time. You want to keep your name and face out there for others to see, know, and trust. Sometimes, you have to spend money and go out and be seen in person. It’s often necessary to spend money to ultimately make money, and sometimes that means having a few drinks or buying a dinner or two. It’s about making a connection. Its networking.
4. Audition. The audition can be seen as an interview. It’s your chance to show someone in person what your abilities are. Its in this moment that your talents come to light and your resume is really poured over. Sometimes, your resume is so strong, you can skip the audition/interview. “So-n-so hired you? They give you a glowing recommendation? Good enough for me! Hired!” However, if you’re new to the industry — any industry — your audition/interview will determine if you get the gig/job. Go in and give it your best. Dress the part and go in with confidence. Be the best you can be in that moment.
In blogging, your audition is every post you make. Your appearance is the look of your blog. Know that every person who visits your blog is interviewing you. Deciding if you are someone they want to keep reading. In some cases, they are also deciding if you’re the type of writer they may want to have do guest posts for them, or perhaps to write for their publication.
5. Hang factor. You got the job. Awesome. Now, you need to KEEP the job. It’s called “the hang factor.” This is a key factor for a road musician, where you spend DAYS at a time on a bus with your band mates. If you can’t fit in with the group, you’ll find yourself outside of the group. Not even your talent can help you avoid being booted out when you don’t have “the hang factor” going for you.
This is true in other industries as well. A harmonious work environment is often key to getting work done. Learn how to adapt. Especially if you find yourself in a position of representing your company. You want to convey a positive appearance. You want to fit in no matter where you go.
I’ve found, personally, this also applies in blogging. I don’t like blogs that are so straightforward that you don’t have any idea of personality. I want a “hang factor” in my blog reading. I want to feel comfortable with the person whose words I am reading. I want people to feel comfortable with me… lest they stop reading me all together.
I know that every job and industry have other factors that can affect if you get a job or not. If anyone has any more suggestions, please add them in as a comment! However, these five factors are ones that I’ve found to not only be key to the touring musician, but to also be key in other industries as well.