It's easy for us musicians to keep a distance from potential clients and only think of them as sources for gigs. It's also a mistake. If you merely view your contacts as sources of income, it's very possible that the number of gigs you book with them may dwindle. However, if you are willing to develop a relationship with everyone you work with, you increase the odds of getting more performance opportunities.
It takes a while to develop a relationship with a client. Some of your clients may eventually become friends, while others may simply become good working partners. Either way, it's a matter of developing trust. Your client needs to know that you're going to bring your A-game every single time. No matter what the pay is, you always need to perform to your best ability, dress for the occasion, show up on time, and be polite and professional with your client, guests, and other workers (the bartender, waitstaff, and anyone else who is also there to serve). After gigs, follow up with a verbal "thank you," followed by an email or even a thank you card.
As you continue to book gigs with a client, impress them with your consistency. All that stuff you just read about professionalism and courtesy? Do it every single time. Not only will you continue to book gigs with that particular client, but they'll be more likely to recommend you to someone else, and there's no better advertisement than word of mouth.
Be extra helpful with your client. A few months ago, I performed for a corporate client at the Embassy Suites in downtown Atlanta. She contacted me last week. Their next big event is in Las Vegas, and she was wondering if I could hook her up with any musicians there. I don't have connections with any Vegas musicians, and I could have told her that and been on my merry way. Instead, I contacted someone else who is familiar with the Vegas scene and asked him for a recommendation. He put me in touch with the right musician, and I was able to put him in touch with my client. This didn't cost me anything but a little bit of time. I don't know if that musician got the gig or not, but I'll bet the next time my client has an event in Atlanta, she's going to give me a call.
In a nutshell, be professional, generous, kind, and helpful, and you'll slowly see your gig calendar start to fill up. Sometimes good things happen to good people.
- Tom Godfrey
- 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.