A STORY FROM JOSH…
“Recently, a good friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook. My friend is an established musician. She has travelled the world playing Top 40s music and she has also just released some of her own original music. Her message to me outlined her utter disbelief at the lack of professionalism displayed by a lot of musicians out there. She asked me if I could write an article about her experience. So here it is.“
The Case of the Misbegotten Schmo:
To give you some background on the subject matter. Her complaint was centered upon musicians’ general lack of organization, laziness, and apparent inability to put all of their promotional material into one easy-to-access place. She gave me some examples of some replies she had received from various musicians.
Below are two replies she received from two applications for an ad she placed looking for ‘Pro’ musicians to work with her.
“The agent already has my passport copy”
“I think my last band put up some video on YouTube”
You may be thinking to yourself ‘hmmm that seems ok’ and you would be wrong!
Let’s get something straight: A Pro musician would not send in an application with that content. Period.
THE SCHMOS APPROACH…
Let’s discuss the two comments that my friend received:
– “The agent already has my passport copy”
That is not going to win you any friends and worse, any contracts. If a potential employer asks you for that information you need to give it. This reminds of school when someone who hadn’t done their homework would exclaim “my dog ate it”. This answer means that you can’t really be bothered providing your potential employer with the necessary info and you are just giving them another job to do, or you don’t have it, or some other equally horrible and lame excuse. A candidate that has provided them with all of the info that they ask for without sending them off to find it from someone else is going to look a lot more attractive to them.
N.B.: Be wary of scammers who are trying to steal your identity. It does happen all of the time, so make sure you trust the person that is asking for sensitive and private information such as a copy of your passport.
– “I think my last band put up some video on YouTube“
Hmm, this reeks of poor organizational skills and a lack of care and consideration towards the profession which you purportedly take so seriously. To make matters worse this person didn’t even supply a link. Mind you I suppose you can’t supply a link to something that you’re not sure exists or not! This is really shocking. A patient agent or employer may reply to you and ask for a link, but in reality they probably wouldn’t bother unless they were really desperate. As a real life example, I recently contacted several suppliers in Indonesia to supply me with some products for an import/export business. To cut a long story short the supplier that I hired wasn’t the cheapest, it was the supplier that replied to me in a timely manner, was able to supply me with the necessary information I required, and was willing to help me get whatever I needed to get the job done.
THE PROS APPROACH…
Before we continue let’s just have a look at my definition of a ‘Pro’ musician.
A Pro musician is defined by two things:
1. Decent technique and performance ability
2. An ability for conscientious, advanced planning that is well-organized, focused, and executed in accordance with deadlines.
Musicians that have all of this sorted out (especially the second bullet point) are constantly in work and are usually always being offered work and contracts because employers, agents, and venues know that they are on top of their game in most or all aspects of their profession. In short- they take care of business.
A Pros’ answer to my friends’ advertisement would resemble this:
“I have uploaded a copy of my passport to my Skydrive account. It is up-to-date, has one year validity remaining, and plenty of spare pages. You will receive an email notification allowing you to view the shared file.”
“I have several links to my promotional videos. Here is the link to my website, where you will also find my repertoire, promotional photos etc etc. Here are some links to the same videos on Youtube. The video is recent and was filmed at etc etc”
TRANSFORM FROM SCHMO TO PRO…
1. Decent technique and performance ability
2. Capability for conscientious, advanced planning that is well-organized, focused, and executed in accordance with deadlines.
If you are lacking in one these areas then you need to take stock of where your weakness lies and turn it into a strength or at least raise it so that is on a par with your strongest trait.
Many musicians have incredible technique and ability. Unfortunately, a lot of incredible musicians are terribly disorganized and have no idea where to find any photos and/or videos of themselves, a written-down repertoire, references or anything of that nature. Great people, but they are often scrambling around doing a million and one things, instead of just taking care of the basics.
There is really no problem with that if you are working steadily. However, if you are trying to break into this scene or land a job with a touring band or a solo contract or whatever, you will need to ensure that your promotional material is in order.
Some tips to aid your transformation:
1. Assemble all of your promo material in one online place
2. Do not expect agents or managers or employers to run around searching for your stuff
3. Try to be helpful and considerate of other people’s time
4. Keep your promotional material up-to-date
5. Do not assume anything
All your relevant promotional material should be in two online places. The first could be a dedicated website and the second in a cloud storage system. A website is great as it is a one-stop-shop that contains almost all of the information that someone may need. Skydrive is great as you can upload one-off documents that are of a more private nature and unsuitable for your website (such as contracts and passport copies) and share them with the necessary people when you need to.
An application is not just words online, or pictures and video links. It is an indication of how ‘together’ you are and it relates your abilities on and off stage to employers. Think about brilliant sales assistants that have helped you in a store. They knew exactly where the product you wanted was, they could tell you the price, the day it came to the shop, the available colors, discounts, they were pleasant, and bending over backwards to help you out. That is what you should emulate- after all we are all selling something…