After you graduate from your music degree program, how do you remain an active performer?
As we are all well aware by now, landing a full-time performance job right out of college is rare. So what do we do in the meantime? How do you stay relevant as a musician? How do you find the motivation to keep pursuing your dreams when you are being forced into a 9-5 so you can support yourself? (More on that issue in another post.)
As a classical musician in today's society, it is imperative to be an entrepreneur if you want to be successful.
After running a woodwind quintet for many years and successfully applying for grants, commissioning new music, setting up more concerts than I can count, managing a tour of guest artist masterclasses and recitals at various Universities, and receiving a record offer from NAXOS, I have discovered a lot of the in's and out's of being an entrepreneurial musician. Better yet? I'm going to let you in on the secrets!
Performing a guest artist concert at The University of Georgia
A foundational element for creating your own career as a performer will be setting up concerts. Through a series of posts we will dig in to every nitty gritty detail! We will begin with laying the groundwork for setting up your concert for success.
The first decision you need to make is what type of concert you want to plan.
Obviously there are many options here, but the primary choices come down to solo performance or chamber performance. Solo performances are always great because you are the star, and let's just be honest here, who doesn't want to feel like Beyonce every now and then? However, since I'm guessing you aren't already a famous soloist (or you probably wouldn't be reading this post, right?), this can make advertising/getting butts in chairs a bit more difficult. Chamber performances can have the same issue, but having more performers does give you more social media reach. Facebook shares are a powerful tool! But even with this, the purpose is to get your name out there and start establishing yourself, so our goal is a full house. With this in mind, no matter which route you go on solo or chamber, your best bet will always be a partnership with a well-known organization. Bonus points if you can pull off a well-known organization AND a well-known person!
Determining your partnership
In order to successfully promote your concert you'll need to have an angle, and the easiest way to find it is through a partnership. This can come in many forms, so now is your time to get creative! Take a moment and think about some things that are important to you. Think about any prior community service or volunteer work you have done. Think about any passions you have outside of music. Do you wish you could save all the shelter animals? Are you an art aficionado? You could set up a benefit concert for an animal rescue organization (like I did for my quintet!) or host a concert in an art gallery. You have no limitations here, so choose something you truly care about! If you have passion behind this, it will motivate you to work that much harder to ensure your concert is successful.
Once you have determined your partnership, start thinking about venues that would be ideal for your concert. When I organized the concert benefitting an animal rescue organization, it was important to me that it was also an adoption event. This narrowed down my options significantly since it had to be outdoors in order to accommodate the animals. Make sure you use any limiting factors as your primary decision maker, it will make this process much faster! I will go more in depth on reaching out to venues and making your final selection in the next post, but for your brainstorming process, here is a list of possible locations you can consider:
Bars and Breweries
Bed & Breakfasts
Colleges or Community Colleges
Music Stores or Academies
Outdoor bandstands or theaters
Don't let this list limit you, be creative!
The next post in this series will discuss how to reach out to potential partners and venues, and determining your final selections!
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Thank you for reading!