So, ‘tis that time of year again. The Christmas installment, if you will, of the Solo Gigger blog here on L2Pnet. Jake and Bill said I could write about holidays with gigs in mind. Let’s talk about solo work during the holiday season.
Since the economy has been doing somersaults for about 14 years now, being a solo performer gives you an opportunity to get additional work. Many booking agents have told me that, prior to the late 90’s, they would book years’ end shows during the summer and early fall.
This was especially true for larger, more expensive groups. Nowadays, small and even mid sized companies will examine their books and consider throwing a holiday party weeks or even days before the event itself. Many have to consult their CPA’s to see if having live entertainment is even affordable.
That’s where we solo giggers come in.
We can take last minute gigs and occasionally make great money doing it.
At the same time, don’t quote a ridiculously high price to folks unless they indicate they have a large budget. We’ll devote an entire blog to negotiating price in 2014, so stay tuned. Be flexible and you’ll get more work.
Here is a list of nobrainers you should be doing in order to get more solo gigs. I’d like my cut of your profits and think 15% should work nicely. Make your checks payable to Riley Wilson care of L2P net thank you!
1. LEARN THE TUNES
“It’s Christmas time all over the world,” like Sammy Davis, Jr once sang.
Be smart and learn some Christmas tunes. Learn some holiday tunes like “Rudolph,” “Jingle Bells,” etc. Heck, even Kenny G did a Christmas album. One of my favorites is Mel Torme’s classic “The Christmas Song.” I sometimes play if off peak season just to see what kind of reaction it gets.
Be sure to learn “Auld Lang Syne” and write out the lyrics if you must.
Screwing up the lyric to a classic song is a bad way to ring in the New Year.
2. WEAR COLORFUL CLOTHES
Get a bright red shirt or something and look the part. My trio was in Las Vegas several years ago and got these neat red satin shirts at a place called“Dealers’ Choice.” This shirt I am wearing does double duty on Valentine’s Day.
If you want to do a Santa Hat, that’s fine. I don’t recommend wearing a Santa outfit with Bermuda shorts. Johnny Carson said that wrecked Christmas in Southern California for him.
3. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Holidays can be stressful so holiday parties can create their own brand of drama. Bring a sense of humor and perhaps some jokes you can use if things take a left turn towards Panic.
You may be asked to perform a special song, dedicate a tune with specific instructions at a particular time, etc. If your memory isn’t what it used to be, ask the client to write down what you are to say. This is also helpful if you’re performing at a club or restaurant.
4. DON’T PARTAKE!
Holiday gigs mean alcohol consumption. Be smart and let the audience do the drinking. This also means drugs or anything else that can put you off your game. We solo giggers have no one else to blame if the gig goes amiss.
Be professional and let the audience enjoy your most present performance. I have often been booked months after a successful holiday show because I did my job well and soberly.
5. THANK THE CLIENT
This is a simple thing that I’ve done for many years. At the end of the gig, thank the person paying you. Offer to shake hands and be cordial.
If the client partied too hard and has passed out or left, this may be more difficult to accomplish. BTW, if things are turning “sideways, ask to be paid on a break before things dismantle.
This is a good time to ask them to keep you in mind for future bookings. You can give them a few more business cards at this time. You do have business cards, don’t you?
6. DON’T ASSUME!
This is a lesson I learned years ago. Do your best performance, but just because you don’t get applause, you aren’t connecting with the crowd.
Clubs demand more interaction, but private parties and restaurants for solo performers aren’t dependent on having the crowd hang on your every word.
We are often a musical backdrop for friends to drink, visit, catch up on lives, while on corporate gigs people are only there to schmooze and do business.
I often thought I wasn’t going over well and the client would tell me on a break, “everyone loves your performance!”
Ok, gang, that’s it for now. I really should charge 20% for these gems, but I’m in a giving mode.
Go out there and book some gigs. “Ok, everybody, hands in on three, one, two, three MOOLAH!”
– Riley Wilson
Riley Wilson is a guitar and bass teacher, writer and performer based in Dallas, TX. His website has more information about all his actions at www.guitarmadesimpler.com. There is no fee for unlimited web visits.