I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, thought I'd throw this one out there. What does it take to transition from being a musician who plays mostly for free into one who plays medium venues and ultimately into one who fills stadiums? I am sure what I've come up with is NOT an all inclusive list and please understand I did this for my benefit to challenge myself, not to say that I know what it takes or to say I have arrived. I'm still playing a lot of free gigs and want to get to the next step.
I've come up with a few things I know are needed, if you have some more, then please feel free to add them.
1. Persistance- I have been told several times that Nashville is a "10 year town." Yes, there is the occasional overnight wonder who achieves success due to the stars being lined up just right, but those are the rare exception.
2. Preparedness- Sounds crazy I know, but are you really prepared when you do a show? I mean, do you work on your set list days before or hours before? Do you know what you are going to say in between songs if anything? I am surprised at the number of talented performers I have seen who seem to think the gig they are playing is another rehearsal. Shuffling through songs to figure out what they want to play next. Several awkward pauses in between and deafening silence.
3. A Growing Fan Base- Again this seems pretty obvious but how many fans did you have last month? How many today? Is that number different? How have you interacted with your fans? How active are you with your social media? What reason are you giving to your fans to stay engaged with you? How many times did you play out last month? What's on your calendar for this month? Do you have a plan in place to transition the casual listener into a fan?
4. A Great Product- I know most of us are broke. But that really is not an excuse for putting out a crappy CD or MP3 for download. Not only does it need to sound good but make sure it looks good. Are you marketable? Does your CD jacket reflect that? Let me ask you a question, if you had a stack of CD's given to you and had to choose one and only one to listen to, how would you make your choice? Would you go with the one in a plain white jacket that was written on with Sharpie or would you choose one that had a picture and looked like it had been produced with care and thought?
5. Being Nice to Everyone- I am constantly amazed in this town at the people I meet who have worked with a major act. Shoot, I'm amazed I've had the opportunity to meet some majors. As large as Nashville is, it is very small and connected. Be nice, play nice, talk nice and don't burn any bridges.
6. Work Harder then Anyone Else- Become the very best at what you do. Take voice lessons, or guitar lessons or writing classes whatever, but don't stop trying to improve on what you do. Work hard... this is a competitive business and the ones who succeed are the ones who have good work ethic and use it. Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire are two ladies that come to my mind when I think of successful individuals in this industry. Both of those ladies work like crazy! They are models of how to achieve success. I know there are many others and many others come to my mind too, but those have always been inspirational to me.
7. Take Every Opportunity- Every chance you get to try something new, to play somewhere, to get some promotion, to meet with people, whatever comes along, if at all possible grab it. Then make the most of it. Meet someone new, set up a writing session, get a name a number or give them yours. Don't be pushy, obnoxious or rude, but meet people and be patient doing so. Don't push your way to the front of the line, wait your turn, then make the most of the moment. Know what you want to say and what you want them to hear. Maybe it is just that you are honored to meet them and that you are a big fan. Maybe it is that you would like to set up a time to meet where the crowds aren't so crazy. Whatever it is, be clear and concise and make the most of the every opportunity.
Again this is only a starter list, what else can you think of? I'd like to hear.
I am working like the rest of you to make it. Let's help each other out and share ideas.
Thanks and have a great day!