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The Solo Gigger: Movin’ Out (?)

by Riley Wilson

One of the critical factors for successful solo musicians is to live in an area with sufficient work. Because some areas of the country or world change over time, moving can become a necessity. I have done this many times in my life for personal and professional reasons and the results have been rewarding.

The late session great Tommy Tedesco encouraged players serious about a music career to relocate to a bigger city in his book, “For Guitar Players Only.” When I moved to Los Angeles in 1983, I was inspired to work harder than I ever had as a musician. Just being in a different town can often catapult your work to another level.

Why move at all? If you live in a small to medium sized town, there may be few, if any places to perform. If there isn’t anyone going to restaurants, pubs, taverns and coffeehouse with entertainment, it might be time to look at moving. If your town has moved away from live entertainment to mostly DJ’s and dance clubs, a bigger market may allow you more potential places to gig. If you live up north, you may find a warmer climate has a longer or year round performing season.

Before you call a moving company, make a list about why you’re considering moving. Be sure you have recently spoken to anyone and everyone in your current town for possible gigs. Ask yourself where you might find more work. Will you have enough money to afford the move and then a period of little to no work until you become established? What types of music do you perform and can you adapt to a new style in demand in a new location? Are you married and/or have children? Are they supportive and realize a move is disruptive and that they will have to start over with friends, school, church, etc.? Will the possible rewards make the risk worth it? If possible, contact friends, colleagues and potential agents and venues for information about the new town.

A short visit following considerable internet research can prove fruitful and invaluable. Make a pros and cons list and study it out in your mind before pulling any triggers. If you are of a religious bent–as I am–then I suggest fervent prayer to verify your choice before packing it in and heading down the highway.

Once you’re relocated, be sure to update your contact information and let people know what you’re looking to accomplish. Resolve to put in substantial time looking for work. Make a contact list and use this to help network with other musicians, agents and venues. Get new business cards and give them out liberally. If you’re on national booking sites like Gigmasters, Gig Salad, Thumbtack, etc. you may find you get more or less work in the new community. If this happens, simply keep networking and introducing yourself to potential clubs, restaurants, bars, agents and the like. If you are talented and hard working, you will eventually land work.

Don’t let your foot off the accelerator pedal, however. Like a business associate once said, “the time to start looking for your next job is once you land the current one!” Be patient and realize it may be a year or longer before you start working regularly.

Each move I have done has helped me get ahead musically. I am fortunate to have enjoyed my time and gigs in California, North Carolina and most recently, Texas. If you feel stifled in your current town, do some research and don’t rule out a move. It might be beneficial and profitable for you, too.

Riley Wilson is a Dallas, TX based solo gigger, music teacher and voice talent. His websites are www.guitarmadesimpler.com and www.wrileywilson.com

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