I play guitar and sing cover songs in local clubs near my university. I make money, but how can I get paying gigs singing my own songs? I’m tired of singing everybody else’s :)
A great question, Ashley, one that speaks to many singers, especially the ones where I live: Nashville, Tennessee.
In Nashville’s “downtown” (much like Memphis, TN or New Orleans, LA), you hear music spilling out from the open doors of side-by-side bars; ha – here musicians even sing cover gigs in the airport.
There’s a ton of country, of course, but there’s also rock, alternative, “tribute” and blues bands. What you won’t hear (unless they’re established artists): original songs.
Those selections are reserved for the ‘writer’s nights’, held at venues throughout the city and suburbs.
Sadly, those venues do not generally make a heck of a lot of money for the performer. So, what’s a poor, frustrated singer/songwriter to do? Well, how about GETTING INVENTIVE?
MIX UP COVERS AND ORIGINALS – Yes, I know the club owner wants what he/she wants but…try throwing in ONE original. See what happens. If everyone’s happy, throw in more. Try a half a set of covers. Do you have CDs of your originals? Then, my next point is:
SELL YOUR CDs EVERYWHERE – …If the club owner is cool about it. Some may not be. If not, try throwing them a few bucks. Everyone loves money.
TRY BOOKING GIGS IN HOTEL LOBBIES AND RESTAURANTS – (Sorry, my loud rock/punk/death metal friends, not so much for you…) High traffic, tourist-y folks tend to LOVE local music. Throw in some covers…and watch that tip jar overflow.
TALK TO TALENT BOOKERS AT UNIVERSITIES – Yes, they have allotted funds. Yes, they may spend them on you. Get a good-looking EPK to them immediately!
GET FRIENDS TO BOOK HOUSE CONCERTS FOR YOU – What’s not to love about charging a ‘donation’ so your crowd can sit in a lovely home and getting paid to play for 30-50 people who are ACTUALLY LISTENING TO YOU? Nothing, in my book. While there are agencies that book house concerts, do a little legwork on your own. Remember, the holidays are coming and audiences like to buy stocking stuffers for their friends—and what better than a CD of awesome original songs?
Knock ‘em dead, Ashley! Let me know how it works out for ya!!