The music industry is an incredibly competitive business, and small mistakes can add up to not getting hired much, or even black balled. Here are 7 mistakes I’ve seen musicians make that cost them gigs:
1. Being too needy.
Most musicians that are desperate to get a gig, don’t. Just like when you go to get a loan, it’s best not to seem too eager or the person who’s hiring you may wonder if there’s a chance the reason you’re not busy is because you’re not able to do the job.
2. Being a poor hang.
If you’re really inconsiderate to others socially, the odds that you’re going to get a really awesome gig goes way down (no matter how talented/hard working you are). Musicians regularly spend 16 hours together at a time, and even small social irritants can become grating.
If you struggle socially, spend a lot of time practicing hanging out with people you socially admire, and mimic them. Stay true to your personality, but it’s a wise move to sand off some of the socially rough edges.
3. Not looking fashionable.
If you’re playing a live gig, a huge part of the job description is how you look. I’ve heard of sidemen spending their entire pay on a wardrobe for a gig, and it being worth it because the band hired them on for future dates. Looking and dressing the part counts big dividends toward communicating that you’re right for the gig.
4. Having a bad/negative attitude.
Bad/negative attitude people are really hard to be around, and I’ve never met a successful musician who didn’t have an amazing attitude. If you lean toward the dark side of things (I do on occasion), develop your sense of humor and channel the positive side as much as you can.
5. Being obsessed with making sure they don’t get “screwed”.
Musicians hear so many horror stories about getting screwed (especially when they’re getting started) that I’ve seen musicians build a career habit of paranoia when it comes to employers. Here’s the news: you’re going to get screwed, but it’s usually not because people are trying to rip you off.
Most people that I’ve worked with in the music industry are overworked, occasionally sloppy, good-hearted people who make mistakes just like you do. Constantly living in fear of getting ripped off will cripple your career, keep you from taking risks, and make you a pain to work around.
I honestly can’t think of a quicker way to ruin your career than to speak badly to other musicians about someone you work with in a group. Not only does this show a lack of class on the part of the gossiper, but it also inadvertently gives permission to other members to talk bad about the gossiper behind their back.
If you value relationships in the music industry, I beg you to never say anything negative about anyone music industry pro to anyone else in the music industry. It’s a really, really small work force, and it’ll get around fast.
7. Being self-centered.
If you struggle with narcissism (and what musician doesn’t at some level), it’s really important that you pay careful attention to the others around you. By shifting your focus away from yourself, you’ll be able to understand the musicians around you better both on and off the stage. And the big bonus? Everybody likes someone that is genuinely interested in them.
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