Now that we’ve written a business model and you’ve seen mine, it’s time to begin work. Today, let’s discuss the Three “R’s”- record, review and reconnaissance.
Take a song you’re considering doing as a solo and record it.
Do it now- in fact, stop reading and record it immediately!
Now, this doesn’t have to be a fancy recording. I suggest a simply jambox cassette, mp3 recorder like the Zoom H1 or perhaps Audacity, if you have a mic handy.
Whether it’s an instrumental or a vocal /instrumental, grab your instrument and hit the record button. One of the real killers in accomplishing anything in life is what my old high school called Initial Inertia. Get off the couch, grab the axe and hit the record button.
Don’t spend any time compressing, mixing or adding effects to it. The idea is simply to find out if it works or not, so don’t beat it to death with multiple takes. Your ears can overlook a few little errors but the bottom line is: will this work in front of an audience?
Once you’ve gotten over the initial shock of hearing yourself recorded in bare bones fashion ask yourself, “Does this tune work for me?”
If not, keep going until you have 3-4 tunes that do work for what you intend to accomplish.
Look back at your business plan and see where you thought your focus was going to be.
After recording at least 10 songs, listen to them back to back.
If you’re mostly instrumental, do these performances still hold water?
If not, do you need to reconsider your focus?
If you’re a singer and you don’t feel your voice is sufficiently strong, is it time to consider some new vocal training?
Do you need guitar or keyboard lessons to get better on a new style of music?
If you read music, look for new method books and begin wood shedding the material.
Jerry Garcia, (yes, the tie maker!) said he did this every 8-9 months to improve his guitar skills. Jerry was a great example of a lifelong learner of music in general and the guitar in particular.
Once you’ve done your own recording and critical listening of your own performances, it’s time to go out and see some other solo acts. (I don’t recommend doing so until you have followed my first two suggestions to the letter.)
Since you’re there just to observe the various performers (as oppose to hustling a gig or networking) you don’t really need to introduce yourself or divulge why you’re there. Bring a small pad and pencil or jot down notes on your personal electronic device. List the following criteria for everyone you see: equipment, song selection, overall sound, audience interaction, appearance, and overall presentation.
What did they do correctly?
What do you think they should do differently?
You can also visit websites such as Youtube or Gigmasters and watch solo videos from nationwide acts like Matthew Cutillo, Mark Weiser and David Payton.
After you’ve done these things, you’ll begin to see which local venues would be a good fit for your solo act at your current stage of development.
If you don’t feel ready yet, then simply begin working on those problem areas in your act until they are ready. Do not get down on yourself! Write out your goals and get to work to make them happen.
– Riley Wilson