Last night, I talked with Chicago a Cappella’s interns – they are a talented group of high school singers chosen from all over the Chicago area. In prepping for the talk, I realized that most of my blog columns have been aimed at composers. In today’s blog, I offer some ideas (derived from last night’s talk) that pertain to singers and instrumentalists everywhere:
1. Meet musicians, performing groups, and composers
• Go to concerts; afterwards, introduce yourself to the singers, the conductor, any composers who had works performed, and the director of the organization. Hand out business cards (with your email and website address) or CDs.
• Keep up with these people on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media.
2. Build a website.
• All musicians need a web presence these days. If you’re not on the web, how are people going to find out about you and reach you?
• Check out websites by professionals at various stages of their careers. See what’s important on their websites: a welcome page, biography, repertoire list, audio files of your works or performances, upcoming performances, and a way to contact you. Then build your own website.
3. Create an email newsletter.
• Putting your name in front of people every 1-3 months helps keep you in their minds for potential gigs. An email newsletter is a great way to do this.
• A newsletter can cover a range of topics: upcoming performances, a blog of your adventures for the past month; current projects that you’re working on with other singers, musicians, dancers, or visual artists; recently released CDs; pictures of you at various events (such as posing with fellow musicians after a concert); links to audio files of a recent performance you gave; and so on.
4. Targeted advertising via “cold calls.”
• Contact groups that you want to work with. If you’re a chorister, that can be local churches, choirs, and choral societies. For instrumentalists, you might try local chamber groups, regional orchestras, and concert presenters.
• In your email, introduce yourself with a short biography, and explain your interest in the group you’ve contacted. Put links to audio files of yourself up on Soundcloud or on your own website. Also, have repertoire lists and packages of potential programming on your site, so people can see the kind of music and concerts you offer.
5. Ultimately, you are in charge of running your career.
• Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. You'll see what you're already good at, and what you need to work on.
• Create a list of short- and long-range goals. These will help you figure out where you want your career to go.
• Get organized & stay organized. This is an essential skill for everyone - to be on time to gigs, to be prompt in returning emails. Keep yourself from procrastinating on projects.
• If you’re currently in college, start making your career happen while you’re still in school. Network with student musicians and composers, create your own ensemble, start a concert series in a local venue, make a website, go to lots of concerts, and so on. Take charge early!