Happy New Year to each of you! First, thanks to Bill Evans, Jake Kelly and the L2P gang for this opportunity to share ideas with you every month.


Second, thanks for reading this and emailing me about future blog suggestions. I appreciate that very much.


So the New Year (2014) is here and now is a good time to do some serious reflection.


How was 2013 for you, musically?


Did you accomplish some goals you established for yourself earlier in the year?


Did you have any “Aha!” moments that changed the game for you?


Did you make significant changes and start that solo or duo act you’ve been thinking about doing?


How much did you earn in 2013 as a musician?  (If you’re playing for a religious organization or charity, that last question may not apply.)


So how did you do?


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I have kept detailed records of my gigs and how much I earned, going back many years.  That way, I can tell precisely how I did on any given year. I also keep track of the client, town, etc.


This is valuable in case I wish to e mail folks who have already hired me about future bookings. Most of my work is private parties, although I also play restaurants from time to time.


In 2013, I got tired of the paperwork piling up in my file cabinet and began scanning and then shredding my old gig contracts. This helped cut down on clutter and my record keeping has never been better. Keeping good records of your performances really does help and this may be a worthwhile goal for you to establish for yourself in 2014.


But let’s laser focus on you and your act now.


Bryan Tracy suggests that in any job, there are 4­5 specific tasks you and only you can do to make that job a success or failure.


I would like to focus on “Going for the One” to paraphrase Yes.


What one task, if you did it successfully, would make 2014 your best year ever?


Maybe it’s finally creating that solo or duo act you’ve been thinking about creating but haven’t yet made the leap.


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Maybe you’ve been playing in a duo and have been contemplating going it alone.


Maybe it’s adding tracks to your instrument and vocal act.


Maybe it’s ditching the tracks altogether and just playing and/or singing.


Maybe it’s getting up the courage to pick up the phone and call that club, restaurant and/or booking agent and asking for the gig.


Perhaps it’s to turn off the TV and internet and finally create that website.


Maybe you need to develop a part of your act better with the aid of private music or voice instruction.


In my case, it might be recording that CD that audiences and my wife have been after me to record for several years.


The great thing about the “One” is that I don’t need to give you your personal One.


You already have it.


Chances are excellent that you know exactly what you should be doing to take your act to the next level.  Honestly, you just haven’t been doing it.


Neither have I.


And that is why it’s important that perhaps you revisit that business plan we discussed in 2013.


Is your “one” part of your business plan?  Or, should it be?


Does the business plan need to be revised? Is there someone you can invite to discuss this over a business lunch? Do you have a mentor in place or at the least, someone else doing a similar business you can talk with about your show?


This column has asked an unusual amount of questions and will require more mental effort for you to benefit from.


I read about an insurance agent who earned in excess of a million dollars annually. He would leave the day after Christmas and head off to an isolated cabin for a few days of reflection, review and constructive criticism of his year’s performance.


He would look carefully at his goals, noting what worked and what did not and then rewrite them for the New Year. He would return a few days later, excited to begin a new year and new work opportunities.


If these questions have exhausted you, perhaps you aren’t cut out for solo or duo work.


I believe in being honest, sometimes blunt, because the music business is filled with too much “blue skies and promises.”


If you aren’t motivated, a self starter, hard worker and bird dogger by nature, you’ll probably discover this is just too difficult for you.


If you aren’t a reasonably intelligent person with a decent sense of business acumen, better to let a band leader handle these areas for you.


If you aren’t well read and eager to learn in general, solo and duo gigs will be tough to get and keep.


Sorry if this appears mean spirited, but the entertainment business is tough and requires a positive mind set for success.


If, however, these questions have got you started thinking about how to turbo charge your act, excellent! We’re on the same page. Write down your goals for 2014 and start planning how you will make them succeed.  See you soon and Happy New Year!



– Riley Wilson



Riley Wilson has written about and for the music business since 1987 with “Gig” magazine. He is the author and publisher of “Guitar Made Simpler­An Intelligent Approach” and has one of the top rated One Man Bands in the southwest US. Share your thoughts with him about upcoming columns through his webpage at www.guitarmadesimpler.com