Busy Season!

It’s the busy season – yay!  I love this time of year with the phone ringing almost non-stop, e-mails pouring in, contracts in and out, schedules, deposits, rehearsals, shows, musicians – it goes on and on.  When you are a professional musician, you must stay on top of it all, or you will lose work.  Not just that particular gig, but possibly future calls from that agent or event planner.  It’s a balance every day since we only have 24 hours to accomplish everything.

My “to do” list gets longer and longer as I await replies, work on proposals, and all the other “stuff” I have to do every day.  I write topics for blog posts in between shows, but rarely find the time to flesh them out.  Laundry only seems to get done when I have a few minutes to spare to make sure that I have gig clothes for the next week.  Food becomes an afterthought as it is usually only when my body screams that I need it that I actually give in. This may not the healthiest way, but it seems to be the nature of the business.  No wonder working people eat so much fast food – it’s really all we have time to do in between jobs!  I can truly understand why those who can afford it have personal chefs and other help around the house.  It would be a dream come true to have healthy meals ready when I am available to actually eat them, and to have someone take care of regular household chores on a daily basis.  But I’m not there – yet.

I say “yet” because I believe that I can do what I love and make a decent living doing it.  But I intend to not only make a living for me, I am creating jobs for others so that they can make a good living doing what they love, too.  With the busy season also comes opportunities for me to work with others to create shows and performances where we are all working together.  I’m not interested in competing with other musicians; I think there is enough work for all to be working during this busy season.  But it’s up to you to make it happen.  And now, I’m off to rehearsal for four upcoming shows this week.  Yes, I’m truly thankful for the busy season!

Promotion, Entitlement or Just Plain Theft?

As a musician, I get asked on a daily basis to play somewhere for “exposure” or “promotion.” Whether it is for a charity event, showcase, or grand opening of a location, I have to communicate to the person asking that this is MY CAREER. This is how I pay my bills (mortgage, electricity, insurance, etc.). This is how the musicians that work with me pay their bills. We have studied our entire lives to get to this level, with many years of college, training and experience. We don’t have other “day jobs” as people like to call it. We are not hobby musicians. We are PROFESSIONAL musicians and this is our career. We know that our service and performance is an actual commodity because people do pay for us to do it. It is an actual product. Just like with any “job,” one is trading their time and talent for a paycheck. A musician’s performance is his/her time and their talent, and s/he should receive a paycheck. Our performance IS our product, and just because there is usually no tangible “take away” for the guests at the end of our service does NOT mean that we do it for free. The reason for our service is to provide much more than background music. We are there to create a mood, a feeling, and an engagement of your audience. Live musicians add so much more to any occasion as there is a physical and emotional exchange.

However, with more and more people feeling entitled to getting the best product or service for the cheapest price, I was alarmed when I saw a fellow wedding vendor posted about an inquiry she received for a wedding cake fewer than thirty days in advance, and some of the comments and replies:

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Recitals – From a Teacher’s Perspective

Recitals are the perfect opportunity for a student to perform in front a friendly, live audience. It’s different from a competition or audition situation. Recitals are not usually judged or graded, and yet the nerves still exist. It’s an excellent environment to try out a piece that may be used for a later audition or competition. I can recall as a student being terrified of recitals my entire life. I always felt like I was being judged by the audience, even when I wasn’t. That’s part of the young, developing mind – the focus is on yourself, and not really thinking about the supportive parents or the teacher. It’s not until you start to mature that you begin to realize that the parents and teachers are nervous FOR you, as they always want you to do your best. I guess I never realized what my teachers were going through. At least, until I became a teacher.

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Upcoming Events

Sometimes a software update breaks something.  That’s what has happened to my calendar.  In the absence of a compatible plug-in, here is my upcoming event schedule for the next few weeks:

Wednesday, May 14 – Fretless Rock is opening the Orlando International Fringe Festival.  We are performing from 4:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. for the ribbon cutting ceremony.  Free and open to the public.  Details at: http://orlandofringe.org/event/fringe-23-kickoff/

Friday, May 16 – Recital for the students of Michelle Jones.  6:00 p.m.  Free and open to the public.  Chapel at the Towers, 18th Floor at 300 East Church Street, Orlando, FL  32801.

Saturday, May 17 – Fretless Rock performs for the “Guys with Ties” Spring Fashion Show.  8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. at One80 Grey Goose Lounge at the top of the Amway Center.  Open to the public, 21 and over.  Details at: http://guyswithties.org/events/upcoming/

Sunday, May 25 – Fretless Rock performs for a private wedding ceremony and reception.

Tuesday, May 27 – Violectric performs with the students of Bridgewater Middle School in their Spring String Concert as part of Violectric Educational Programs.  6:00 p.m.  Free and  open to the public.  Bridgewater Middle School, 5600 Tiny Road, Winter Garden, FL 34787.

Friday, May 30 – Fretless Rock performs for private event.

Sunday, June 8 – Fretless Rock performs for private event.

Monday, June 9 – Fretless Rock performs for private event.

Sunday, June 22 – Fretless Rock performs for private wedding.

There are many more events on the upcoming schedule, and I will hopefully have a proper plug-in to put them in my official calendar section.  Thank you for understanding, and I hope to see you at some of the public events soon!

18 Real Life Expectations AS a Working Musician

So you want to be a working musician?

Unless you are a statused musician to a stable employer such as a local Theme Park, Broadway show, symphony, school, studio or anything like these that have actual W-2s, benefits, etc., you can expect the following as a freelance musician (in no particular order):

1.  Unstable income.  We have feast or famine seasons in the entertainment world.  Saving and budgeting are essential to survival.

2.  Inconsistent schedule.  We work most weekends and holidays.  Gigs happen any time during a 24-hour period, and you have to be as well rested as possible between gigs.  A regular sleep schedule does not exist for the working musician.

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Instrument Snobs

As a professional violinist with many different symphony orchestras throughout the years, I have learned that your value as a musician is not solely based on your performance, but rather how expensive is your instrument.  One would think that the pettiness of the cost of any item fades after high school where they are more concerned about what name brands you wear on your clothing.  The truth is, it only accelerates and magnifies as you get into the professional world.  Usually, other musicians don’t care what brand of clothing you wear, but they certainly want to know what kind of strings you use, the maker of your instrument, who does your luthier work, what brand is your bow, how old is your instrument, etc.  I have been judged based on the TOOLS I use for my job.  That’s what an instrument is:  a tool.  I have seen symphony personnel managers and music directors dismiss musicians based only on the instrument that they can afford/use.  Teachers tell their students and parents to spend more and more money on instruments, going vastly into debt that will likely carry for 30+ years.  And yet, these same musicians are vying for those “coveted” symphony jobs that don’t even pay enough to make the instrument payment each month, let alone give them money to pay for the essentials of life (housing, transportation, food.)

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Violectric “One” Review by Noted Music Analyst

It has been two years in and out of the studio, revising arrangements, editing, herding cats, plus mixing and mastering, but my band, Violectric, finally has finished its first CD:  “One.”  The title pays homage to both classical and classic rock composers by using the numerical system for musical works.  Led Zeppelin used Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV), while Beethoven used titles such as “Symphony No. 1/2/3/4/5….”  As this is our first album, I thought it fitting to follow the examples set by the great artists before me.

Recently, I was contacted by noted music analyst, Christopher Long.  Mr. Long wanted to do an exclusive preview and review of our CD before it was available to the public.  Here is the link to his review, and the very first public review of this album.  The album “One” will be available on iTunes, Amazon and other worldwide online stores February 14, with hard copies available February 23, 2014.

http://christopherlongshowbizguru.blogspot.com/2014/02/record-review-violectric-one.html

Disposable vs. Indispensable

We have become a disposable society.  Disposable razors, diapers, water bottles, coffee cups, etc.  Visit any landfill in the world and you can witness it firsthand.  Companies and their designers are actually designing things to last just long enough that you will replace it with the same or newer item when it does break.  Cars used to be designed to last over 10 years; now it is rare to find one with a warranty longer than 3-5 years.  Shoes are made so poorly now that they have to be replaced every few months if worn daily, especially when working.  Appliances last maybe a year or two, then end up in the landfill.  People don’t repair anything anymore, especially when it’s cheaper to buy a new one.

I can somewhat understand about electronics needing to be replaced as new technology is created and used, but how often do they really need to be replaced?  Some companies make the next “thing” completely incompatible with its predecessor so that you have to buy everything new, including chargers, cables and accessories.  Or you have to buy and download new software that even has an expiration date for use!

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