Imagine seeing this as part of a review: “It was obvious the crowd wanted to dance and do some partying. Yet the artist continued to play ballad after ballad to the point where the audience either fell asleep or left.”


I can’t imagine that artist coming back for a return engagement anytime in the near future.


Making music just for yourself can be one of life’s true pleasures, but when it comes to gigging and playing music for money, some performers get confused about what the objective is in being a paid professional entertainer.


And that’s true whether the artist is playing at the local watering hole or a mega-star at a stadium.


Give ‘em everything


In show business there is really only one objective. 


Do you need to be the best musician in town?  Not really. 


Do you need to be the most impressive singer?  No, just listen to a lot of what’s on radio today.


Must you have the very best equipment?  Nope, ever see the guitar Willie Nelson plays?


Is the objective to know what your audience wants and give it to them?  Yes!


Is it about using your original music or cover songs to communicate emotions, feelings, and to tell a story to the audience while helping them have a really good and memorable time?  You bet.


Each artist, be they guitar player, singer/songwriter or keyboard player, brings their own skills to the table.  What are yours?


What strengths and skills do you have in your toolbox?


More importantly, what areas need work so you can balance out your skill set?


Are you as good of a musician as you could be?  If not, consider lessons. 


How much do you rehearse? Do you have the best voice possible?


In addition to lessons, you may need to find a better microphone for your voice and might consider using a harmonizer or effects processor.


Do you know a wide variety of songs?  If not learn some, even if you don’t like them. It’s not for you—it’s for your audiences.


I’ve always felt that the best thing is to play music that folks can dance to.  Above all, be an entertainer—that’s what the audiences are paying for.


TPkeys2s a 082513


What’s Your IT Factor?


Work at being a nice person and looking good if you need to. You may not be the best in any one category but the artist who is competent in more than one or two areas (or hires someone who is), will win the lion’s share of the gigs.


A performer who has a little talent and uses all of it will always be farther ahead.  


If you are strong in all of it, then be ready to make some good money.


Understanding the objective of being in show business can sometimes take a lifetime to learn.  For others it comes pretty naturally.


As a performer and as an artist, knowing which areas you are strong in and which you are weak in can be enough to have you OD’ing on introspection.  I found it essential to have a trusted and knowledgeable source of feedback, but finding one is harder than it sounds.


– Tom Patrick McAuliffe


Tom Patrick McAuliffe makes music and videos in Hawaii.  His CD “Love Is In The Air” is available now at with a new CD “Oahu Nights” due soon. Visit him at