About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Exposure (the "E" word)

There is a word I sometimes get tired of when I'm looking for gigs: exposure. Many establishments act like they're doing you a favor when they graciously allow you to play for exposure (free). I certainly play my fair share of "exposure" gigs, but I'm choosy about where I play. In general, I limit my free playing to 45 South Cafe, Mighty Joe Espresso, and Rotagilla Creole Cafe, where I've just begun a weekly Wednesday gig. I play at these places because I like the people, and they treat their musicians well. I do NOT "play for exposure" anywhere the management acts like they're doing you a favor by playing for free.


I've recently created my own kind of exposure gig: the business mixer. I'm focusing heavily on finding background music gigs. The very nature of the music makes it hard for me to stand out. After all, if I rock the house as a background musician, I'm not doing my job! You don't really develop a fan base as a background musician, so instead of going after fans, you have to seek out people who can hire or refer you. In my case, this means establishing relationships with other professionals, including but not limited to event planners and caterers. This is where the business mixer comes in.

A couple weeks ago I played during a wedding professional networking seminar. I had already signed up for the seminar, but then I realized that the best way to advertise my music was to perform, so I volunteered to play at the event. I landed a country club gig as a direct result of participating, and I've established friendly relationships with several event planners and caterers. Next month I'm going to play for a business mixer, with the goal of establishing more relationships and collecting as many business cards as possible.

In my naivete, when I started making plans to become a professional musician, I thought that I would be all set if I could hook up with one or two event planners and caterers. Wrong! I need to establish relationships with as many event planners and caterers as I possibly can. To this end, I'm going to regularly seek out more "exposure gigs" at business mixers. I'm playing for free, but really, it's free advertising.

To be a working musician, I feel that most exposure gigs in restaurants are a dead end, unless you're playing specifically to build a fan base. With the kind of work I'm looking for, my best bet is to go to business mixers and play for the people who can hire me.

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