Keeping a gig journal is something that really helped get my feet in the ground after moving to San Francisco. No, this isn’t a journal in the literal sense of the word. I don’t curl into bed after a performance and pen my thoughts and feelings into leather bound, tear-soaked loose-leaf. Instead, I simply log all pertinent information regarding a performance. I do this beforehand so when I arrive at an event I have who to look for, important phone numbers, how much I am getting paid, and how long the event lasts all in my pocket. If you’re serious about getting results, it serves as a physical reminder of past success and is a tool to track your improvement.
For my first dozen performances it served as a sort professional training wheels – instead of scrambling through emails for event details, I assign each client/event one page and write everything pertinent there. I’m a huge fan of writing things out by hand and having hard copies – I just don’t trust myself to keep track of a bunch of details crammed into an iPhone note. To me this seems pretty common sense, but you’d be surprised by the number of musicians who can’t keep track of their performance schedule. Pulling a Spinal Tap and getting lost on the way to an event is a surefire way to not get hired again. Remember: Take charge of everything under your control.
What to include:
Directions (including 1 alternate route – NEVER be late)
If you don’t already have some method of keeping track of your events, a gig diary is a great way to start. Again, it’s something you don’t need to do religiously; however, if you’re somebody who prioritizes professionalism and organization, it will go a long way to taking pre-performance stress out of the equation. I remember a time when I got ridiculously lost on the way to a wedding. I left 3 hours early because the event was in an old farm field that was only accessible from dirt back roads. I got so lost, and the weather was so bad I had to pull my car over for 45 minutes because I couldn’t drive due to the torrential downpour. It was the type of storm where it was near-apocalyptic in one area, yet a few miles away you can see the sun is out making its way through the clouds. I still managed to arrive on time, but after that I decided to never let that happen again and plan for everything. You may have done tons of weddings, but for the couples you’re playing for, hopefully they only have to do it once.
How do you keep track of events and your progress?