Part 2: Surviving As A Musician in Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Part 2. Connection: From my position, I find that those simple rules I mentioned create a decent foundation to add to the journey. While its true that my passion remains for writing and performing my own material, I consider myself lucky to be able to accomplish half of this passion by performing an average of 5 times per week. It also keeps my chops up. Performing is much like practicing, only I don’t get a “second chance”, and I also get to try new ways of connecting with an audience by experimenting with new techniques of presenting a song (beat, rhythm pattern, etc). Audiences love “the surprise” when a song is revealed in a new way with some improvisation.
Patient people are the most rewarded, as a common cover song is not usually recognized until a minute or so into the development of the presentation. The percentage of people that appreciate what I bring to an evening is small, however, these people become fans in one way or another. I will not deny that the general masses like to drink and party and are out for a “good time” on weekends, or good conversation with friends during a weeknight (or vice verse) and that I can provide entertainment on those levels, with ease (I’m at a bar, so that;s the way it is). What I have come to realize is that it is difficult to make a connection with any audience if the settings don’t fit what you do (IE: complimentary lighting, correct volume, chatter, etc). I’m sure that many musicians will agree that “connection” plays a role in their success – and well personally, heck, it’s just a great feeling when a connection is made.
In the right settings, when the stars are aligned, and when a person(s) comprehends and figures out that I am actually laying down rhythm, guitar, bass, vocal(s), and then singing over top, the reaction is quite rewarding. At that point, I know that a connection has been made, and I take every opportunity to connect with that person(s) by either asking what they would like to hear, or guessing a song they would recognize – and be pleasantly surprised with that song. It’s a bit of a challenge, but the reward is amazing. I’m also going to add; I do connect with musicians, but there are many people who do not play an instrument, and appreciate live entertainment. These people really take an interest in the connection and I believe in the natural occurrence of this process. In other words, I just cant force someone to like or enjoy what I do. If I notice that someone is into what I’m doing, I’ll make the effort to have a chat with them on a break.
So what does this have to do with surviving as a local musician? The connection with the few people that become fans expands over time. It’s like chipping away at an iceberg with a chisel, but extremely rewarding as time goes by. Sure, I’ve landed performances at weddings and private parties for some pretty cool clients, and this, in my opinion, is because of the connection. Here’s the deal; Every so often, there will be that one person who goes out of their way to do something amazing, like speaking to the manager of a bar/venue about the amazing entertainment, or recommend the entertainer to a friend, or even requesting one song again again each time I see them – just because of the way it’s presented.
Yes, there is money to be made on that level, but its more than dollars and cents. These connected people follow your artistic career and present opinions and great advice along the way. Just the other day, I received a private message from someone about an artist I should check out (no it wasn’t their self, lol). To me, this means the person cares about the connection with you, and is reaching out to add to your success. I know this sounds deep, but I really stand behind this actuality. What I do with the information is mine to choose, but I do not forget that the person reached out in a positive way. So this all happened because the person heard and saw me perform a song(s) they liked, really understood what I was doing, and the rest is history.
Would this have happened if I didn’t follow some simple rules? If I didn’t, I think the percentage of this happening would be less.
Stay tuned for the final part 3.