It is a surprise bonus when you receive a call from another performer or industry contact regarding a performance opportunity. These types of performances don’t require upfront marketing and negotiations, and are usually welcomed by all musicians that view gig opportunities as essential for career development and advancement. It is common for young performers to experience the challenges of finding quality performance opportunities. It requires cold calling, presentation of press kits, and negotiations on income and performance structure. As a result, each and every gig confirmed can require a significant time investment on the part of the band/performer. When performers see other performers headlining and participating in well-recognized events, they are often envious and hopeful they will find the same quality gigs themselves.
If you provide a performance opportunity to a fellow musician, you should expect the musician to reciprocate and invite you to perform at an event they are involved with. Additionally, sending a thank-you note and follow-up on how the gig went is respectful and demonstrates your appreciation. Do not make promises and say that you will invite the performer to do future events with you if you have no intention of following up. It is understood some performers are more active than others, so some have more opportunities available.
If you repeatedly invite the same group of musicians to your events, and they don’t reciprocate, it is a relationship that is one-sided. This behavior is self-serving and these situations should be avoided.
One summer the Young Performers Club band, Coda Sky, had a strong reciprocal relationship with the band As We Know It. We were invited to perform in several events they were involved with and we reciprocated by inviting them to many of our events. We shared the backline and As We Know It managed the sound. It was a win-win relationship that resulted in both bands being able to perform in some great summer gigs and events.
How can you best manage this process?
- Being aware of what performers are active and keeping a journal of all performers who invite you to events.
- Establishing a list of performers you work well with that you can contact when opportunities are presented.
- Having a system in place for thanking the referring performer.
- Being active and asking the gig contact if there is room for other performers.
- Developing strong relationships with other performers and industry professionals.
Beyond inviting other performers to your events, you can also get involved in volunteering your services to industry professionals, as this is another great way to obtain exposure. Two young singer-songwriters from Boston, Cassie Wise and Amanda McCarthy, contact our organization before every show to see if they can help in any way. They have been stage managers, emcees, and guest performers at our showcase events. Establishing these relationships is helpful as it enables us to develop strong working relationships with performers and exposes them to great opportunities.
Performers who routinely accept new gig opportunities with no follow-up reciprocation may find themselves positioned further down the call list.
Reciprocal relationships with other musicians are valuable to your future success in the industry, and every relationship matters. Be a winner rather than a follower. Be an advocate for your fellow musicians rather than a stranger.