Month: March 2015

Two Benefits of Playing Weddings

In addition to giving you the opportunity to make an impact on a couple’s special day, weddings have two HUGE benefits: Networking with day-of coordinators and venue staff. For the coordinators and planners, this is their livelihood and this won’t be the only wedding they’re doing all year. Do well and you’ll lay the foundation for repeat business. In the same vein, the venue staff likely does more than weddings. If it’s a winery they will host parties, tastings, and possibly a small concert series.

Day-of Coordinators and Planners

Ideally, you should already be proactive and in touch with the wedding planner well before the big day. If you’re primarily communicating with the couple, I’d recommend asking them for the contact info of their event planner and reaching out in advance of the ceremony. Even if it’s just to introduce yourself, it shows responsibility and makes their job easier. In your email you should:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Link your website
  • List songs to be played for Processional and Recessional
  • List estimated song duration
  • Confirm venue address and start time

All of this can be taken care of in a few sentences and makes coordination smooth. Not to mention, if you’ve already struck a favorable impression before the wedding, you’re well on your way to repeat business. Making the music portion of the event planner’s job a breeze is gigging with ease.

Venue Staff

At large venues you’ll come into contact with a variety of staff. Everyone from waiters and waitresses to the venue’s event team and managers. Always, always, always introduce yourself to everyone and offer to help out with set-up (you arrived early, remember?) Even if you eat free or get a bottle of wine on the house – tip the bartender or waitstaff generously. With venue staff you should:

  • Exchange contact info
  • Ask about upcoming events
  • Email a thank you a few days after the event
  • Send them your website/press kit

These are two massive benefits of playing weddings and need to be followed to a T. Experience builds momentum, which in turn puts you in touch with more and more people who are eagerly waiting to hire you for their event.

Happy Gigging

A Wedding Game Changer

As a gigging musician – especially while in or just out of school – a huge chunk of events you play will be wedding ceremonies. This is good news – tons of people get married every day, the events are usually straightforward, and it’s an easy opportunity to wow guests and make connections.

Now here is where a game changer comes into play. I recently stumbled across www.theweddingreport.com and found a wealth of information about weddings in my area. There is an abbreviated free version and you can also pay a fee for a full report. The report is an exhaustive study including breakdowns by age, total wedding cost, and vendor fees.

What to look for:

  • Couple Spending by Location
  • Number of Weddings by Zip Code
  • Amount Spent on Music/DJ/Entertainment
  • Vendor Fees

 As an example, the report shows the average fee of a string duo for weddings in 2014. It gives a clear breakdown of the amount of string duos hired (vendors) organized by price – this gives you an easy way to see if what you charge is in line with what brides expect to spend.

Further detail: In the San Francisco Bay Area there were 27,856 weddings in 2013 alone with an average wedding cost of just under $40,000. Yes, you read that right. With a market value of $1.1 Billion, it’s safe to say business is a-boomin’.

I’m not going to spoil the rest of the details, but with a bit of research this report can change the game in giving perspective on things like how much should you charge relative to location, popular venues, and couple’s spending trends. It’d be extremely foolish to overlook this tool and fail to adapt your booking techniques to the market.

The Importance of Creating Good Habits

After taking a break from the blog while finishing school, I’m back into the swing of things. This post is all about the importance of creating good habits that set the stage for future success. An effective mindset is one that assumes the end result will be the culmination of all the small steps taken towards said end. Granted, life does throw us curveballs and failure is there as a teacher, however, in the end, you are what you repeat.

Here are a few habits I hold myself to every day that pay off whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out.

Practice Scales and Technique

This should be a no-brainer. Even just 10 minutes a day starting slow with the metronome will go a long way to developing ease and comfort on any given instrument. Remember – the purpose of practice is to make things feel as easy and natural as possible.

Send 5 Emails a Day

 If I want to be lazy and watch TV or wander down the YouTube rabbit hole, I ask myself “did you send your 5 emails?” If the answer is “No,” – I get straight to work. It’s easy to get overzealous with this one, but 5 emails everyday adds up to over 30/week and over 100/month. For me, I target local venues and past clients – anything more and you’ll flood the market.

With an investment of a mere 20 minutes, you’ll find it’s an easy way to get leads, keep in touch with past venues, and keep your fans updated on your upcoming projects.

Set Clear and Attainable Goals

Always refine what it is you are working on. Not just wishy-washy “I want to play at XYZ someday” or “I want to learn XYZ song.” Break that end goal into simple, small steps where results can be measured. As an example, I’m working on a new CD – both writing music and recording the songs. I set a specific schedule where I work on one piece every two-three days and set a firm timeline for the project. Therefore, “I want to play XYZ” becomes “I want to record XYZ by next Thursday.”

If you start with these simple steps and keep track of what you practice, who you email, and have a timeframe for any project you are working on, your work will pay off and the snowball effect will generate massive momentum. Remember that we’re often bombarded with “moments of success” on TV and media – someone wins American Idol, a video goes viral, a band gets a big break, a star athlete dominates a sport. What we don’t see is the countless hours of preparation that lead to that point – and this is where proper habits come in.

So are your habits hurting or helping you?