Wrangling Cats – Part 2 My Card?

This is one of the most common mistakes most musicians make. Whose card do you give to a guest when asked? It depends on the situation and type of event. Do you hand him your card with your name, phone, website, e-mail, etc.? Do you simply tell him your name and maybe a website? Do you give the contractor’s card? Do you give the band website? Do you give the meeting planner’s card? Or the agent’s? Or is it the venue card? If you give all of the above, you will definitely forget someone, and in most cases, never be hired again by one or more the above.

Handing out your own card when you are hired by anyone other than the direct client is almost always a NO-NO. Regardless of WHY you gave it out, all it takes is one of the above-listed people seeing you give something to the client or guest, and you will never be hired again. This not only jeopardizes your future work, but every single person down the line. It is my experience with most musicians that they don’t realize just how many people are involved in a booking for a corporate gig. And they all get a piece of the pie as we work WITH them as well as FOR them. It’s a partnership, and there must be trust with that partnership.

One of the first questions I ever ask when something has gone to contract is: Who is the end client? Which company did THEY hire? That’s the card I will hand out, or at the very least, refer any questions or guest issues to them. I then ask if it’s okay for me to at least tell them my name and/or the band name. No contact information, no websites, etc. Just a name. When a guest asks for a card, they usually want to know whom to thank for the entertainment. Many times, they don’t want to book you directly, but rather to know which group/person for whom to ask when they plan an event.

The sad situation is that many contractors are out to “outbid” or “steal” other work from other contractors, especially in this tight economy. I value the spirit of competition, but when you are there working for THEM, you do NOT stab them in the back ON THE JOB for which they have hired you. On the flip side, if you are a hired musician, you DO NOT ASK FOR THE AGENT’S CARD or any other card for that same gig. That contact belongs to the contractor who hired YOU. Network on your own time, not when someone else is paying you.

Yes, I am a bit heated about this. It has happened more than once just in the last few weeks. A musician I hired was telling MY CONTACT that she can provide string ensembles for other gigs, too. Excuse me?!?!?! What do you think I am already doing?!?!?! Why do you think you are here?!?!?! I don’t go on YOUR gigs and tell them of my businesses. I always refer any questions to you as the leader, even if it is over something as seemingly harmless as private lesson inquiries.

Bottom line is make sure you as a musician think about who really hired you, and refer everyone to that person. If you are the leader, then make sure you know whom to credit with the gig, and NEVER assume it is okay to hand out a card unless cleared by your contact.