It’s a big step to go from amateur musician to professional musician. Practically speaking there’s only one difference: before, you were playing your music free; now, you’re playing your music for money. However, it’s not all about practicalities. The biggest shift when you start playing music professionally is the change in attitude that is required.
Practice is way to success!
Playing music as an amateur is relatively easy as long as you have the talent. You can play as much or as little as you want to by visiting open mic nights in your local area, busking as a means of broadening your audience and even securing the odd gig here or there – something you may do for free in order to get the exposure.
But there comes a time when you feel you’ve had a decent amount of exposure, you’ve had good responses from audiences and you’ve developed a good enough catalogue of songs to start getting paid for what you love doing instead of juggling a very serious hobby alongside work.
So how do you cope with the changes required in order to go professional?
Perhaps the first tip is to start thinking about gigs as paid work. This doesn’t mean thinking of them as a chore or as a demand on your time – after all, this is work you love doing, not work you do grudgingly.
This means putting yourself into a positive frame of mind every time you play. In the past you may have been able to back out of an open mic appearance if you weren’t feeling great or were in a toxic mood – now you’re getting paid and people are relying on you so you have to put a brave face on everything and be in a good mood whenever you’re on stage.
Fortunately, forcing yourself to be in a good mood often ends up putting you in a good mood naturally so this is not such a hard thing to do.
The next shift in attitude is to start thinking of other people in connection with your performance and not just yourself. Someone’s paying for you to play so it’s wise to make sure your performance is good enough for them. This means getting back into the habit of practising rather than just messing about with songs in your spare time. Prepare for gigs properly and you’ll strike the right chord with venues.
You want to get booked time and time again so that you secure a decent income from your talent, so do try and be flexible and willing with the venues, but always stand up for yourself. If someone reneges on a payment then don’t just accept it. You don’t want a reputation as a pushover.
Finally, you need to get used to managing audiences on your own. This can be nerve-wracking but you do adapt after a few gigs – you learn how to interact from the stage and how to handle hecklers and other members of the crowd. Less is often more on the live music scene as far as chat is concerned, so don’t feel you have to do a stand-up routine every night. Just try not to be too distant or aloof.
Angelica Farmer believes a combination of good live music management and a positive attitude can help more people earn money from doing what they love.