I've had the blessing and pleasure of a 40 year music career. I make a living doing what I love most . . . creating and playing music. It's carried me to every corner of the earth. I've met and worked with some of the most fascinating and amazingly talented people on this planet, too numerous to name. This is not by chance. I work very hard at being the very best "professional" musician I can be. If you want a career playing music, here are ten tips that can help you acheive and maintain that goal:
1. Practice Makes Perfect: There is no substitute for hard work and getting to know your instrument inside out. Hit the "woodshed." You want to be able to play easily and smoothly, whatever an artist or producer asks of you. Also, some music theory and learning to read music can really be helpful in landing paying gigs and sessions.
2. Always Be On Time: This is one of the two most important marks of a true professional. Music is a business and runs like any other business or profession. Time is money! Too many musicians think because they're talented, they can show up whenever they want. Big mistake!!! I remember when I worked with Michael Jackson. He was a real stickler for being on time. If you showed up late, you simply disappeared. Your services were no longer required. What a shame if you lost a great gig like that because you couldn't be on time!
3. Be Prepared: This is the other most important mark of a professional. I can't tell you how many times I've seen players show up to a session or rehearsal completely unprepared for the day's work. If someone gives me a tape or CD of material to learn, I will know that material inside out very quickly!
4. Have The Best Gear: Make sure you have the very best gear you can afford. A good musician can make crap gear sound great. Imagine what that same musician can do with great gear. Expensive sometimes, but well worth the investment. Nothing gets people excited faster than great sounds!
5. Be Courteous & Be Nice: Too many people have the misguided notion that being difficult or unpleasant makes you a better artist. Being an a**hole doesn't make you "edgy" . . . it just makes you an a**hole! Trust me, nobody wants to work with an a**hole!
6. Modern Communication: Once upon a time, musicians waited for gigs by the telephone. This is no longer the case. I'm especially talking to you older players! Today's working musician must have his or her communications universe in working order, and know how to efficiently run it all! A laptop, cell phone, web presence, and social media. If you don't have these tools at your disposal, you literally don't exist!
7. Have Reliable Transport: Hard to be successful if you can't get from point A to point B on time, with all your gear, ready to rock.
8. Get A Passport: Again, hard to do those international festivals without a passport. Proper documentation for everything is paramount. Get it done now!
9. Show Up Sober: Save the party favors for after the gig or session. Nobody wants to pay their hard earned cash to watch you stagger around the stage, hitting sour notes or being off time because you have double vision and can't see your instrument clearly!
10. Keep It Real: In many ways, this is the hardest because there can be so much B.S. in show business. My mantra for keeping it real is simple; the world was perfectly fine before I was here and will continue to be be perfectly fine after I'm here. It doesn't need me or anyone else. It's up to each of us to contribute something positive while we are here. The world owes us nothing! The true mission of the musician is to uplift the souls and spirits of people and unite us all. That, is why the good Lord blessed us with these skills! It ain't about you and it ain't about me. Serving humanity is what it's all about! Humble yourself, serve the music and serve humanity. When you do, wonderful things happen.
Written By Gregg Wright
©2019 Left Hook Music
Photo by Amedeo