As I flop into a comfy armchair at the 'Rainbow on the lake' in Steeple Langford before my performance I start to think about all the musicians that I have met on the circuit in the last 18 months and how we often discuss the highs and lows of our careers.
Even though we are often competing for business against each other my experience has been that the best of the bunch understand we are ‘all in the same boat’. So as a result I have made some good friends out of it. It's nice to know you will get an update from other musicians about new venues, or even the changes in gig rates for certain areas and I try my best to do the same in return.
Another discussed topic is public impressions of musicians and how they vary. Let's start with the grass roots level, playing pubs regularly and earning a living from it. The biggest positive is, if it’s your full time job most people respect you for your career choice. However they are always keen to know your gig fee hopefully to book you for a gig! But some audience members start doing sums and try to work out your annual income. I have also been asked "surely you want to play somewhere better than this?". Well if I had a record company and some decent album sales I am pretty sure I would be in a different situation regarding venue choices. To be honest I don't care where I play, I love what I do and if the audience is happy and have had a good time what does it matter?
People also have an impression of you outside of your natural habitat of ‘the stage’ some times seeing you as a lay about or someone hanging on to a dream that might never happen! When I left my full time job of 6 years to become self employed in a world of music, I was often being asked "When will we see you on the X Factor, and speaking of such talent shows how high or realistic are your musical ambitions?". When I left my full time job my sole goal was to earn money playing the guitar. In my first 6 months I achieved 60 gigs (not bad from June to December). For 2012 at time of print I have confirmed 141 gigs. These include solo, duo and TC House band gigs. My actual aim is 150 gigs by the end of 2012, so I am pretty chuffed with the way it is going.
Gigs do make up a majority of my income and from gigging I have been to and played some cracking pubs, clubs, hotels and other amazing venues. I have always remembered from my previous job you don't always know who you are going to meet or play too, so always be presentable, professional and keep you ears and eyes open as you never know what you might learn! Sometimes I do have to remind myself of this when things don’t go to plan and have to hold back the diva within!
Networking has been the key for my business! I have been given gigs as a result of a good chinwag on several occasions. I have met bands on the circuit who I have ended up playing guitar for, doing live sound, or even recording. Speaking of recording I have recently moved my studio out of my flat, and now have a dedicated studio space and office. Still not completely finished but it is functional. This has been a massive task for all concerned so I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Father, EC Electricals, Calvin Eales, Rachel Andrews, Steve & Tracey Chick, Neil Wyatt and Abbie Lott.
Gehko from Bournemouth have been the first to use it and currently The Bell Street Jazz band are working on their latest compilation in it. Hear examples of my recording on soundcloud www.soundcloud.com/tommycmusic
Until next time!