It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Seth Hanes today as a guest blogger!
Seth Hanes is a horn player, digital marketing consultant, and the author of the new book, Break into the Scene: A Musician's Guide to Making Connections, Creating Opportunities, and Launching a Career, which is available now on Amazon.
I highly recommend that you purchase Seth's new book. But don't take my word for it - because Seth's book has already received high praise from distinguished professionals at Curtis, Juilliard, The MET Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and more, so this truly is a must buy!! You can purchase the book on Amazon here.
Below is Seth's guest post, "Five kinds of gigs that any young musician can do to get started freelancing." Enjoy!
When I was just starting my music career, I used to come up with all kinds of excuses as to why I wasn’t “ready” to get started freelancing.
Negative thoughts and excuses were constantly running through my head.
“...i’m not good enough.”
“...why would anyone hire me?”
“...i don’t know know the right people.”
“...i don’t have any experience yet.”
The truth is that a lot of these might be realistic concerns and that’s OK.
If you’re a young musician just starting your career and you don’t know where to begin, you’re in the right place.
By the time you finish reading this, you’ll have everything you need to start taking steps to land your first gig.
Before we get there, it’s important to understand that when you’re getting started, it’s not all about making money.
Instead, your goal should be to start gaining the experience and connections with your future colleagues, forming the foundation that you will build your career on.
These five gig ideas are a starting point to help you look at the world around you and spot the opportunities that you can start taking advantage of.
Because most people doing the hiring might not even think to hire younger students, the most important thing you can do is be proactive about pursuing opportunities.
You will be amazed at the types of opportunities that you can create for yourself by being proactive. Remember, it’s impossible for anyone to hire you if they don’t know you exist.
Also, before we begin, I want address the idea of free work very quickly, because I think it’s a massively misunderstood topic that many people never give a chance.
Free work can be a great tool in your toolkit when you’re getting started.
It can be especially useful for building up your resume if you don’t have a lot of experience yet, meeting new people that could introduce you to more opportunities, and sometimes it just leads to cool experiences.
Ready to get started?
No matter where you are reading this, I can essentially guarantee that there are plenty of churches in your area, and most of them have a few occasions each year where they will hire musicians.
Christmas Eve and Easter are the most common opportunities, but this can definitely vary depending on the type of church.
If you actively reach out to all of the churches around your area, you will likely get a few leads.
When you’re first getting started, you might have to do a few gigs for free, and that’s totally fine.
Once you start building up some experience and comfort playing services, you can start charging a fee to play.
Start out by aiming for holidays and then inquire about other opportunities once you get a few responses.
2. Teach lessons
Some of the most valuable experiences you will have in your development as a musician will come from teaching others.
You don’t have to be the most amazing performer to get started teaching lessons.
When you are first starting out, you just have to know more about your instrument than the person you are teaching.
Don’t be shy about reaching out to the music teachers in your area and asking about teaching lessons.
I can say with absolute confidence that very few young musicians around you are taking the proactive approach.
You will stand out by doing so and you might even pick up a couple of students in the process.
3. Theater Productions
Most communities have some kind of theater that presents live shows.
This will look different depending on where you live, but these are great places to get some experience playing in pit orchestras.
These productions usually have small budgets, so they will likely jump at the chance to have additional musicians performing in the pit.
You might even get a little bit of money in the process, but more importantly these kinds of shows will be a great place to meet people.
Whether it is the music director, your fellow musicians, or audience members, the types of people that are involved in these productions are often very involved in the community as well.
In addition to gaining some performance experience, you will start meeting people that could help introduce you to new opportunities in the future.
Weddings are the one type of gig that almost every musician will do at some point in their career.
Like every other type of gig we have talked about, this type of work definitely requires a little bit of experience to do well.
The sooner you start to develop that experience, the sooner you can start getting in position to get paid work.
When you are trying to get started playing weddings, start by asking the people you already know if they have any ideas about where to start.
Whether it’s your family, family friends, teachers, church members, or neighbors, the more people you talk to about it, the more likely you are to get a lead for a gig.
Just like the other gigs, if you start out doing free work, that’s OK.
Once you start getting a few opportunities, they will naturally lead to more if you stay persistent and try to make things happen for yourself.
5. Intern with local ensembles
This might sound like an odd place to end this list of gig opportunities, but I think it’s an important point that often gets overlooked.
You can learn a lot about the music business in a short amount of time by being inside of it.
Research some of the local performing arts organizations in your area and start reaching out to them about interning with them.
Don’t worry if there is no job posting for an internship on their website.
In fact, that’s even better.
You will stand out as a go-getter in their eyes if you approach them with some valuable ideas about how you can help them out.
Here are just a few to get your creative juices flowing:
Offer to help with administrative tasks in their office
Volunteer to help set up at performances
Volunteer to work their information table at performances
These are just the tip of the iceberg of ways that you could help, but they should be enough to get your foot in the door.
“OK, so how do I actually reach out?”
First, go to the “Contact” area on the websites of the places you are interested in reaching out to.
In order to make this as simple as possible for you to get going, use this script below as an outline when you are reaching out to people.
All you have to do is fill in the blanks.
My name is your name, and I’m a local instrument you play.
I just wanted to reach out and let you know that should you ever need your service offering, I’m available and would love to work together.
I am a student at your school and have performed with group, group, and group around the area.
I am just getting started as a musician and would to love the opportunity to work together sometime.
Thanks for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon!
Now, of course you need to make some minor adjustments so that it makes the most sense for the person you are reaching out to, but this will give you a great start.
I have used a similar script hundreds of times over the years and have generated countless opportunities for myself by just copying and pasting that script into emails.
You can get yourself started today by deciding what kinds of work you want to try for and taking action.
Remember, if you are proactive, you can start creating these opportunities for yourself, no matter where you are in your career.
Now stop reading this blog and you get yourself some gigs!