Month: May 2014

Protip: Anniversary Follow-up

Early on I used to compartmentalize performances and events into separate categories. They were divided by the companies that hired me for corporate events, small recitals, and couples who hired me for their wedding. I viewed myself as a guitarist who just so happens to play weddings, and thought of the different events as a separate life in comparison to my “serious” performances.

What I realized was that one great way to keep in contact with past clients and get them to come to your next concert is to follow up via email. I don’t recommend blindly adding everyone to your email list, as most of the time it will feel spammy and end up in the trash folder. However, always follow up immediately after a gig with a short “thank you” email.

For weddings you can take this one step further. I’ve found that the thoughtful gesture of emailing the bride/groom on their first anniversary to be a HUGE success. Simply wish them a happy first anniversary and remind them how much fun you had playing for their big day. Ask them what their plans are for the future and in a sentence or two, let them know about your upcoming CD or concert. This is a great way to stay in touch and I’m sure they’d love to hear you play again – after all, you did play for their Big Day!

This demonstrates professionalism, friendliness, and thoughtfulness all in one short email. I’ve even mailed a free CD to a bride’s mother completely out of the blue. The result was she mailed me a surprise bottle of wine and referred me to another couple who is getting married. In order to use this successfully, it will require you to be a bit more established and be at least a year into the game. It’s crucial to have this level of commitment because eventually, you will soon have just as many anniversary emails to send as you will for new bookings.

Hope this helps – how do you keep in touch with past clients?

Multiple Income Streams

In order to achieve some level of financial stability, every musician will leverage a variety of income sources to make ends meet and eventually break through to higher earning potential. The degree to which each category will be leveraged will largely depend on factors such as individual personality, career goals, style of music, and networking. The three biggest income streams for a musician can be broken down as follows: Teaching, Performing, Sales.

Teaching

Being a music teacher is by far the most stable hat a musician can wear, and this is serves as the foundation for world-class performers teaching masterclasses at Conservatories or Universities and serves as a steady start for the young teacher at the local music store. As you gain experience performing and word of mouth spreads about the success of your students, your studio will fill and your rate will gradually increase.

In major cities, by far the best place to teach is after school programs. You simply set up an interview with the principal or music teacher and then find out if there are any students interested in afterschool music lessons. You won’t get more than a couple kids per day, but the benefits are great: you can command a higher rate, cherry pick interested students, no charge for renting a studio, and parents will jump at the opportunity to keep their kids occupied instead of sitting around waiting for the bus or in study hall. If you’re worried about getting started and have no experience, the most effective way to get your foot in the door is to substitute teach for a friend (again – network!)

Performing

Who are we kidding? Getting on stage and playing is the reason most people pick up an instrument. Unless you’re already booked at the Met or solo regularly with orchestras around the world, performing will serve as a high but often unpredictable source of income. Concerts, background music, weddings, corporate events, and church services all count as a way to boost your income and get you playing for people. In order to get started you will need a website and a couple mp3s at the bare minimum and can expect to take about a year to get yourself up and running and no longer “paying your dues.”

 Some people like to look at their income as primarily teaching-based with performance as a bonus. This will gradually shift as you gain experience performing and once you find yourself turning down more events due to your teaching schedule, it will be time to evaluate your approach, crunch the numbers, and re-focus your streams.

Sales

This includes T shirts sold at concerts, CDs, mp3s, sheet music, iTunes, and downloads. Personally, this is the weakest of my income streams with performing shifting into the strongest stream over the past two years. I always bring CDs to sell to any event and all musicians should utilize sales as an income source. If you have a huge Facebook following or your band is a local favorite, you need to have something fans can purchase. Additionally, having a CD or mp3s you send concert promoters or include in your press kit is a must.