How To Make It As A Professional Musician

Making it as a professional musician is as easy as getting out of your comfort zone and start talking to people that can help you.

Madonna - Top Of The Promotional Heap
Madonna - Top Of The Promotional Heap

   Ask any musician that you know if they would like to make a living playing music full time in a live band or even as a studio musician and I’m pretty sure their answer will always be an emphatic “yes”. Every guitarist I know dreams of making their living playing guitar. The thing is, great musicians are a dime a dozen. You can find excellent musicians living on every block. So how come so few of them are doing any professional playing?

   The answer is incredibly simple, it’s because they have failed at self promotion. So how do you self promote? Again, the answer is a simple one. All you have to do is get out of your practice room and go talk to people! Musicians are notorious for staying in their own little world and dreaming about making a living playing music. All it takes to get out there and make it playing music is to get speaking to anyone and everyone that can possibly help you in your quest.

   So where can you find people that will help you with your quest to play professionally? The first place is your local music store. Get down there and start talking to the salespeople. Find out who the top players in your area are. Try to find out where you can meet the best players and highest level musicians in your area. Maybe they come into the local music store regularly. If so, see if you can find a time to talk to them while they’re at the store.   

   Another thing to do is go out and see live bands play. You may be able to talk to some members of the top bands in your area. See if you can get their business card or contact information and ask if it’s okay for you to call or e-mail them with some questions. Try to set up a time to talk with them on the phone or see if they will let you visit with them before a rehearsal.

   When you get a chance to meet and talk to the best bands and musicians in your area make sure you’re ready with some good questions for them. Here are some sample questions for you to ask them:

  • How long have you been playing?
  • Do you play music for a living?
  • How often do you play?
  • How do you find gigs?
  • Do you know anyone that is looking for musicians or would like to start a live band?
  • Ask about their best experience as a musician.
  • Ask about their worst experience as a musician.

   Let them answer your questions and pay attention when they’re talking to you. You can find out more about the music industry from asking intelligent questions of working musicians than you will find out anywhere else. You need to be able to communicate if you’re going to play music professionally and this is how you start doing that. Everyone likes to talk about themselves and if you’re willing to take the time to ask relevant questions and listen, you’re going to create a rapport with the upper level musicians that can help you in your quest.

   Finally, make sure you have your own contact info handy. You’ll want a contact phone number and a website address. Your website can be as simple as a MySpace or Facebook page that lists your skills, experience and a few sound demo’s of your playing. Make sure you give your info out to people that can help you in your quest to play professionally. Over time, as you build your relationship with the other local musicians, you can get contacts for their booking agents as well as personal agents and managers that can help you on your way in your music career.

   So how can you make it as  a professional musician? Get out and talk to people! I’m telling you, the reason Madonna, U2, The Beatles and Coldplay have made it huge isn’t because they’re the most talented musicians. It’s because they got out and they talked to people until they found someone that could help them. You may be the best, fastest, most talented guitarist in the world but unless you get out and find someone that can help get you out of your practice studio you’ll only be the greatest guitarist in your house.

   The next step after meeting some musicians is to get out and start your own live band. Keep reading Live Musician Central for ideas about starting a live band and making your live band better.

Author: Live Musician Central

My name is Matt Rushton. I have been playing in bands for 27 years. I've been playing professionally for 21 years. I have opened for Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Joan Jett, Little River Band, and Quiet Riot.

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