‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
‘I want to be a singer in a band!’
An older, very experienced musician said to me recently that in ‘his day’ you had to have ‘a‘ band in order to work 5 nights a week, but that now you have to have 5 bands in order to work 1 night a week. I think he’s right. I look at my calendar for this year – and it’s only May – and I have already worked in 14 different musical projects, including bands, production shows and recording gigs.
So if you want to make an actual living from this singing lark and avoid being just a weekend warrior, you have to be ‘a singer in bands‘. But it’s more than that. Of course you have to learn 14 different repertoires but that’s a singer’s job. The voice is absolutely an instrument but you’ll be working with people who play other varieties of instruments and it’s a good idea to be able to communicate in the same musical language as they can, so you might want to study music theory. Some of the shows you do might be costumed and gone are the days when that is all supplied for you, so you’d better get some costume designing chops.
You want to do a gig at this particular venue, you have to bring your own sound system – so you’ll also be a roadie and a sound engineer. Oh did I mention you have to bring the audience too? Social media whizz, publicist. Don’t forget the posters and fliers and maybe some advertising: graphic designer. You want to do your own show? Booking agent, producer, promoter, payroll. If you want to get involved in songwriting you better have some recording and production skills under your belt and you may have to negotiate your own royalty deals. Producer, manager, lawyer.
Of course, sometimes singers get to work with real professionals in these aforementioned areas, and that is a joy, but as an independent artist, there are many times when the budgets and circumstances just don’t allow for that and you will have to be all things to all people. Now don’t think I’m trying to turn you off your chosen career here – I absolutely adore what I do and while there are growing pains involved in constantly learning new skills, I have learnt that no laurels are good enough to rest on for too long. Also, being so involved in all aspects of the career I’m passionate about, is ultimately very satsifying. It’s just those times when you’re talking chatting to someone about what you do for a living and they say something like: ‘Oh so you do about 4 gigs a week – that’s great, you are very lucky having all of that free time!’…
Anyway, I need a cup of tea and a lie down after all of that – I need to keep my energy up in order to scramble up the next big learning curve that is no doubt coming my way,
See you next time,
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