This will be a short post with some pointers designed to help you quickly assess a gig opportunity and decide if it is right for you. I was told this information by someone much smarter than me and then I added to it with information from someone else equally as intelligent and talented. This is the Ms and Ps of the gig.
The Ms are simple:
Music, Money and Mates. You should have at least two of the three to accept the gig otherwise it could be a sour experience for you (and possibly everyone around you). Pretty self explanatory.
The Music should be either really fun to play or extremely fulfilling to your soul. It could also be written by a musical hero or a piece you have always wanted to try and perform.
The Money should be worth the playing of the music, traveling to and from the venue, (and if necessary) unloading and loading of your gear.
The Mates are the people you have to surround yourself with. It is not only the other band members/conductors, but also the administrative types, commonly referred to as “suits”. This can be (but not limited to) managers, agents, lawyers, event planners, instructors, and anyone else who can make money off of the artist’s performance.
Now there is a wild card. The Milieu. The definition of this word is: A person’s social environment, backdrop or setting. Let’s say you only have one of the three of the aforementioned “M” words, but the location of the gig is all expenses paid to the Virgin Islands, well maybe you can suck it up and take the gig and make the best of the situation at hand.
The Ps come into play once you have accepted the gig. They are the Patience, Precision, and Persistence.
The Patience is not only for logistical situations, but also in the music being played. I always tell my students, a great drummer is a patient drummer. Having the patience to place the beat in the right spot, as well as knowing when and what to play (more specifically with fills and “licks”). Off the stage, the patience can be with dealing with other band members, “suits” or when the logistics are less than optimal.
The Precision is not just for beat placement, but also how the music is played. This can be volumes, quality of sound produced, tempo, and playing zones (this one is mostly for percussionists). Off the stage, this can be whether or not you show up on time, how you dress/groom yourself, how well you learn the material or deal with changes (this is not only in regard to adjustments in the music), and much more.
The Persistence can be making it through the gig being one song, one set or the whole show. No show will ever be perfect, but you can sure keep trying to accomplish that goal. Most issues on the bandstand will be out of your control, but you have to have the persistence to recognize them, adjust and deal with them, and then make it to the end of the performance relatively unscathed. Off the stage that is just dealing with outside factors to be able to get through the gig musically. That can be as simple as needing a glass of water, getting to the gig, or as complicated as dealing with many different personalities or worse, dealing with injuries or even possible deaths.
Last month I gave a list of books to get you in a better place with your music career. This month, I have a bonus book that is related to the post I just wrote above. The Book is called “Why I FAILED in the Music Business: and How NOT to Follow in my Footsteps” by Steve Grossman
Happy Gigging and see you down the road!