A couple of weeks ago, several people asked me the same question.
"You and James don't even have real gigs. Why should we listen to you?"
(This is the sort of guff you get when you name your Facebook group "Trumpeters with Real Gigs.")
Now, I don't even want to go into WHY those people asked the question (... I think they were trying to point out our weaknesses and looking for reasons to blow us off).
I just want to talk about some of my so-called fake gigs, and show you how those have a way of turning into real gigs.
What's the difference between a real gig and a fake gig? Obviously, the real gig is a paid gig that will lead to you paying your electric bills and having money left over to buy all the Harmon mutes and kazoos that you need.
A fake gig is an unpaid gig that you've volunteered for that might lead to a real gig. But seriously, after I'm done with this email, let's not call them that any more.
Last week I was busy doing several fake gigs. I played principal trumpet in the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra's spring concert, sat in on a youth after school jazz band that my friends are directing (they need a couple more trumpets and I'm there to play and coach), and became an honorary middle school jazz band member (one of the trumpet players was out of town).
All this activity was unpaid. But I still feel that it is leading me to paid work. And I'll tell you how.
First of all, the after school jazz band and the middle school jazz band were projects that my friend is throwing his heart into to make them successful. Over the past year he has been one of the biggest supporters of my trumpet studio - he tells parents about me and has raised money and used it to hire me and other teachers to come teach during the school day. So if he asks me for a favor, I'm happy to do it.
After all this playing, I was offered three paid gigs.
Being out in the community playing is one of the best ways to get more gigs.
But sometimes it can seem like everyone is asking you to play for free and your schedule gets filled up with amateur opportunities and you get burned out.
It happens to all kinds of creative people. You have to value your own time before you can expect anyone else to do it.
If you're trapped in an unending vortex of fake gigs, start to say no to some of the volunteer things and set time aside to devote to teaching or gigging or marketing yourself.
Two ways. One, listen to our upcoming webinar with Seth Hanes this coming Monday at 7 pm Eastern Time. He is going to give you some great tips on how to get the phone ringing sooner rather than later. Watch your emails that day, we will send you the link to watch the webinar.
Second, work on your website so that it is crystal clear what you sell (whether you sell a three hour jazz set, live wedding music, or lessons) and how people can get it from you.
I recently made a web page that made it super simple for people to schedule lessons with me.
I invite you to copy this idea.
I've made it easy by writing out all the steps to make a page to schedule lessons so that you can go out and make an even cooler page.
How about you? Has a fake gig ever opened the door to a real gig?