the jazz authority; random dubiously zappy rants about 'the musicians music'.: August 2005

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New Links At Bottom Of Page!

Check out the new link list at the bottom of this page. I scoured the web to find you only the best sites to list here. I'm not exaggerating - I spent hours searching for thrilling nuggets of surfing bliss for all of my faithfull jazz-head blog readers.


Monday, August 22, 2005

How To Get Paying Gigs

How To Get Paying Gigs

There are books written on the subject of how to be a successful musician, but I haven't seen any that address the subject of pay. Here, now, I will offer some tips on how you can get a gig, and get paid well.

Every band and their dog has a demo C.D. How excited would you be to get a copied low quality recording of some guys jamming in their basement? Not very. That's why you want to have a portfolio. This is simply said C.D., plus a professional band photo (8x10 is best... c'mon, you're friend has a 3.1 MP camera and you've got a color printer – Do It!), a bio including info on you and your band with history, and a letter to the specific establishment you are dealing with (to make them feel important). Put it all in a good quality folder – found at your local office supply store – and don't expect to see it again. Don't get your girlfriend to color it with sparkles around the band name; just put the stuff in there and take it to your meeting with the manager of the club. You did call ahead and schedule an appointment with the manager, didn't you?!? Oh yeah, and do a follow up within the week. Close that deal man, or get the portfolio back (if you can).
The sale for them here is that your band will draw more business. If your not charging at the door and there's no cover, then you need the venue to know that it's going to be worth it. Sometimes the public needs to know that it's a regular thing, so tell the venue that you're doing crazy promotion in the newspapers and postering all over town. They'll like that. If you do want to charge cover, don't go over $5.00 because people are cheap, and they want to spend their money on booze. $7.00 is the max, and if you are well known with a following, $10.00 is the absolute max, but be ready to see people go elsewhere for their music. Seriously, cover should be 5 bucks or less, so sometimes a cover plus base pay is a great way to do it. You can really complicate things here though. Say the club charges a $2.00 cover regularly, but because you want $100.00 per man, they're gonna charge 6 bucks for cover, and you're not getting any of it directly. You do the math. Or, they give you a minimum pay of , say, $25.00 per man for the night (not good), and a percentage of the bar sales. Hmmm... sounds tricky, and even if it looks busy, they can give you whatever they like. Stick to simplicity and get a flat pay deal. See below for the actual numbers.

You should look at the local musicians union, but I don't necessarily recommend joining one. You can accept gigs that pay less if you're not with the union, but if you are a member, you cannot play for less, unless as a sideman secretly, maybe... Just look into it.

Be Nice.
So the manager of the bar or restaurant is a jerk, and you want a gig there because it's a great venue. Brown nosing isn't the answer, and may in fact make him/her respect you less. Instead go in hard, with a 'business proposal' that shows why they want to hire you. If you are confident and pleasant, they will listen. If you are nasty, confrontational and insecure, they will smell the fear and piss on you.

Well, this varies greatly, and that's the whole point of this post. No one wants to work all night for 20 bucks only to have to pick up the $30.00 tab at the end, and we all dream of big money, so what can we really expect? Take a good look at the venue for an idea of what you'll get. This is where you have to think about the bands split. I truly believe that pay should be split evenly for everyone. Maybe, if you are the leader and you are fronting the cost of the bands' portfolio, and you are doing all of the promotion, then you can take a little extra. Let's see if I can break it down. Remember, I'm using Canadian funds.
You might get $100.00 per musician for a two set gig, with 45 minute sets & 15 minute breaks. That's pretty good, and I'd say it's a good starting point. You could also say, for the same band, same amount of work, 'X' amount for an entire show, and have them break it down. This can sound like more to the venue, as it's a lump sum, so be ready for a haggle. I'd go no lower than $200.00 for a four man two set gig, and the venue might want a third set thrown in. In fact, many gigs are three sets, so set your price higher ($300.00) and go from there. Try for a free dinner or a few complimentary drinks thrown in after the deal is inked out, but don't let that count as pay, unless you like to be pushed around. At the nicer popular spots start higher. $600.00 for a three set four man gig, or $100.00 per man with free dinner and a drink. That's a sweet deal. Give it a shot – you never know. If you've represented your band well, you'll get the cash, and maybe a solid weekly or monthly out of it if you're play well and put on a good show.

So there it is. Go get that gig and get paid.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Practicing In My Mind

"Opinions are like assholes . . . everyone’s got one."
- Art Blakey

Sometimes I can't get my sax out to practice. If the situation arises where I wan't to practice and have the time to do it, but something gets in the way. When this happens I can 'practice' in my mind. Going through the motions while moving my figers as if I was playing has been productive for me, and I even do it when I'm on long bus rides or in line ups.

Imagine reading a theory book, or a scale/pattern/technique book, and instead of playing the exercis you visualise them in your mind. Tap your foot to keep time if you want. Practicing in this way can make it easier to get through the tedious stuff like learning patterns using triad pairs, with inversions, over weird chords.

Anyways, if you haven't tried this, you are probably still wasting your 'bored' time away. Why not be the only person in the line-up at the bank with a smile on your face?

L 8 R

Small wonder we have so much trouble with air pollution in the world when so much of it has passed through saxophones.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Jazz on Star Choice Satellite Cable

"Invest yourself in everything you do. There’s fun in being serious."
- Thelonious Monk
If you are looking for a new cable service provider and live in North America where Star Choice satellite cable is available, I recommend trying this company. I live in a valley where FM radio doesn't penetrate, so I do my radio listening on my satellite radio.
The jazz played on one of the 'galaxie radio' channels is mostly current canadian artists, and good ones too. They have other channels with classic 'jazz masters', and a cheezy easy listening jazz-rock.
Supposedly they may get the Cool TV channel for subscription soon. I hound them weekly to see if it's available.
Anyways, forget Shaw, Bell, and any others. Star Choice has wicked programing, good features and good rates. I get basic cable with radio for $26.00 CDN a month!
Q: If you were out in the woods, who would you trust for directions, an in-tune tenor sax player, an out-of-tune tenor sax player, or Santa Claus?
A: The out-of-tune sax player! You were hallucinating the other two.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Jazz & Sax Myths

- You need the same mouthpiece as your favorite player in order to sound like him.

- You need to do lots of drugs to be a great player.

- Talent and/or being 'gifted' is the more important than hard work & tenacity.

These three misconceptions have caused a great many players to experience far more greif than they should have. I think it's sad that so many cats are giving p because they don't think they're talented enough, getting high all the time in the name of deep music, and buying new mouthpieces only to find that they sound like themselves, maybe with a hint of their favorite sax player mixed in only in timbre of tone (not tone quality - I don't want to mislead anyone with the word 'quality').
So, if you've subscribed to any of these myths, you're in luck! Now you have been saved from years of greif. Below are the facts...
- To sound like Johnny Longhorn, lift his solos. The gear is relatively unimprtant compared to how many transcriptions of this cat you do. Play along with their albums and you'll sound like them. Just keep the gear somewhere in the same ballpark.
- Forget the drugs. They won't do squat for your playing, and eventually if you get messed up with the hard stuff your life will go down the toilet. They won't make you play the blues better, they won't give your playing 'soul', and they definately won't give you groove.
- If you go to a karaoke bar, you'll see great talented singers wail out their impressions of their favorite singers. Most have no formal training, only some natural talent. These are not the singers who go on to get record deals. The singers who work hard at their art are the ones who go on to be great singers. There's no substitution for hard work, and in the long run that karaoke singer will be wishing they'd put a little more effort into learning how to sing. When I was a kid I had some natural talent, but most of all I worked hard. All through high school I busted my butt to get better at playing the sax, and eventually I ended up at a respectable post secondary music program at 17 years of age, exempt from most 1st year courses. I didn't just stop there - I had a lot of work to do. Talent isn't even a part of the equation.

If you know of any other music myths post them in this posts' comments.