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Tom Olsen: Blog

How to keep a steady gig going

Posted on September 1, 2015 with 0 comments
One of the goals of many musicians is to find and keep a 'steady' gig. These are regularly scheduled performances that last for months and hopefully years. Over the past 10 years I have enjoyed three weekly gigs at restaurants or churches and have been able to keep one going now for 6 years.

What is the secret to keeping a gig? I think it involves several things:

1. Be on time: start on time, take breaks that are not too long, and end on time.
2. Keep the volume down: no noise complaints.
3. Be professional: dress for success, act like an employee of the establishment.
4. Tip the wait staff: always, always, always tip the wait staff if they serve you
5. Keep it interesting: add new tunes to the repertoire to keep it fresh
6. Be grateful: tell your client how much you enjoy playing there and mean it
7. Hire good subs: and make sure the client is happy no matter what

This last point is perhaps the most significant. Let me show you how this can sometimes not work out so well.

Let's say you suddenly find a need to hire someone to play for you. You reach out to your known contacts, and may not find anyone available for the time you need. Eventually you hire a person who comes highly recommended. Whether you know the person or not, they will be representing you at the gig, so what happens to them affects you.

Twice in the past year I have hired subs who arrived 30 minutes late to a 2 hour gig. Every time a sub starts late, it reflects badly on you. My response to this is to sincerely apologize to the client and let them know you take it personally. I offer to perform the next gig free to compensate for the missed music, and vow to do a better job making sure the music would be right the next time.

Mistakes are like straws on a camel's back; it only takes one mistake to lose a steady gig. So rock on, stay grateful, and only hire the best.