Last week, I wrote that local artists — musicians, painters, sculptors, designers, etc. — need to be paid a fair price for their work. I got a lot of thank-you notes from many of those artists, as you might expect.
This week, let’s talk about what those guys can be doing to better the situation. To be honest, most of these tips are directed at local musicians, though some of the unsolicited free advice applies to other artists as well.
First, if you expect to be paid as a professional, act like one. This means showing up on time, prepared, sober (unless you really do play or sound better drunk) and ready to put on the type of show you would want to pay your hard-earned money for. Practice and get the songs right at rehearsal so you don’t ever stop a song before it is finished because of a mistake. If somebody messes up, move on like it never happened. Practice this move. At rehearsal.
A paid gig is not rehearsal, so don’t treat it the same as one. This means your girlfriend needs to sit in the audience and not next to you on a stool onstage. Talk to her during the break and not between songs from the stage.
This goes for your best friend who wants to stand next to the stage and offer ideas on what you should play next or comments on his favorite moment from last night’s practice. In fact, there should be as little talking between songs as possible, unless you have a really good, and I mean really good, story to tell about the next song.
The audience doesn’t want to watch you talk to bandmates, and they don’t want to watch you tune your guitar or practice a new lick between songs.
If you aren’t yet proficient at making up a set list on the fly, have one ready to go before you take the stage. While that minute or two, or five, you spend talking onstage about what to play next doesn’t seem like a long time to you, it’s a buzz kill for an audience.
Sound checks should be done during the day, when the bar or club is the least crowded.
One of the most painful soundchecks I ever sat through was the day a local drummer, who I like a lot, got his new electronic drum kit. They were pretty much delivered to The Brass Register where the band was to play that night. I know he was excited, and he wanted and needed to try each piece out, but yikes that was painful.
Put together a decent website complete with contact info for media and booking purposes and please, please, please include a high-resolution band photo.
You’d be amazed how many times you’ll get free publicity just because you have something few other bands have. Namely, an easy way to get info and a picture.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter @timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...