Ten Important Tips For Aspiring Professional Musicians! by Gregg Wright
I’ve had the blessing of a 30 year career making a living doing what I love most . . . creating and playing music. It’s carried me to every corner of the earth. I’ve worked with some of the most fascinating and amazingly talented people on this planet, too numerous to name. This is not by chance. I work very hard at being the very best “professional” musician I can be. If you want a career playing music, here are ten “must know” tips to help you achieve and maintain that goal:
1. Practice Makes Perfect: There is no substitute for hard work and getting to know your instrument inside out. Hit the “woodshed.” You want to be able to play easily and smoothly, whatever an artist or producer asks of you.
2. Always Be On Time: This is one of the most important marks of a true professional. Music is a business and runs like any other business or profession. Time is money! Too many musicians think because they’re talented, they can show up whenever they want. Big mistake!!! I remember when I worked with Michael Jackson. He was a real stickler for being on time. If you showed up late, you simply disappeared and your services were no longer required. What a shame if you lost a great gig like that because you couldn’t be on time!
3. Be Well Prepared: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen excellent players show up to a session or rehearsal completely unprepared for the day’s work. If someone gives me a tape or CD of material to learn, by God when you see me again, I will know that material better than you, inside out!
4. Have Good Gear: Invest in yourself! Have the very best gear, whether its guitars, amps, effects, etc. Be sure it’s always in reliable working order. A good musician can make crap gear sound great. Imagine what that same musician can do with “great” gear. Good gear can be an expensive, but worthwhile investment. Nothing can replace a great sound!
5. Be Nice: Why do so many people have the misguided notion that being difficult or unpleasant makes you a better artist? Being a jerk doesn’t make you “edgy” . . . it just makes you a jerk! Trust me; nobody wants to work with a jerk!
6. Communications: There was a time when musicians waited for gigs by the phone. This is clearly no longer the case. I’m talking especially to you older players! Today’s working musician needs to have his or her communications universe in complete working order. A laptop, business cards, cell phone, web presence, social media, etc. If you don’t have these tools at your disposal, many of which are free you are completely out of the loop. You literally don’t exist!
7. Have Reliable Wheels: Very hard to be successful if you cannot get from point A to point B on time, with all your gear, ready to rock.
8. Get A Passport: Kind of hard to do those international festivals without a passport. Proper documentation for everything is paramount. Get it done!
9. Show up Sober: Save the party favors for after the gig or session. Nobody wants to pay their hard earned money to watch you stagger around the stage and miss notes because you have double vision and can’t see your instrument clearly!
10. Be Realistic: In many ways, this is the hardest, because there are so many falsehoods and false notions in show business. My personal philosophy for keeping it real is simple; the world was perfectly fine before I was here and will be perfectly fine after I’m here. It doesn’t need me, you or anyone else. It’s up to each of us to contribute something positive and uplifting while we are here. The world owes us nothing! The true mission of the musician is to uplift, heal and bring people together. Humble yourself! Serve the music and your audience faithfully, and wonderful things will happen.
*This article originally appeared in American Blues Blog www.americanbluesblog.com
Written and updated by Gregg Wright
©2011 Left Hook Music
Photo by Salva 1745
To learn more about me visit www.greggwright.com