I got a really nice message from an artist last week saying that between the articles on this blog and our DIY Musician Conference last year, he got “the push (he) needed to officially launch a music career.”
That’s super gratifying to hear, but it was the next part that caught my attention.
He said that since that time there have been some “very low lows” (like his PA breaking down twice during a wedding gig) and some “amazing highs” (like a corporate gig where the event planner decided to pay him even more than the agreed fee because the crowd kept wanting more encores).
Your roller-coaster music career: the good, the bad, the hellish, the ecstatic.
Anyone who’s been playing music seriously for more than five minutes has probably experienced their (un)fair share of both highs and lows. Well we want to hear about ’em! Whether it’s good for a laugh, a lesson, a pat on the back, or simply finding a little sympathy and support, I think we’ll all get something out of this discussion.
Here, I’ll go first…
My best musical moment from the past year: Being “Peter Gabriel.”
I played the part of Peter Gabriel in a full-on re-creation of the singer’s 1994 concert film Secret World Live, with a killer band in a beautiful venue, props, choreography, 3D projections, and the sweetest crowd.
Forget the past year; those few hours were some of the most fun times I’ve ever had on stage. I wrote about it — and why I thought the tribute show worked so well — HERE.
My worst musical moment from the past year: Failing to duplicate success.
I prefer playing original songs in listening venues, but I also occasionally do long cover-song sets in bars, restaurants, tourist spots, etc.
Last summer I played three hours of covers on a Saturday night, and it was sooooooo good. The older folks were super into it; the college kids (hey, how’d they get beers!?) were all dancing; the venue was thrilled; I was firing on all cylinders. Some of my friends came up afterwards and said it was amazing to see me do such an extended, high-energy set of fun, dance-y songs.
So when I was scheduled to play a similar gig at a different venue two nights later (a Monday), I thought “Why reinvent the wheel?” I played the exact same songs in the exact same order.
It bombed. Blank stares. Polite clapping at best. A different friend who hadn’t been at Saturday night’s show said, when I asked him what the hell went so wrong, “Well, I guess nobody really wanted to listen to three hours of depressing music.”
Depressing!!!? These were the SAME songs I played two nights earlier!!!!! The fun ones! The dance-y ones! Right!? Right????
Wrong: different night, different place, different context. I might’ve been low energy. The crowd might’ve had different expectations. The acoustics and the delivery might’ve come across differently. Anyways, on Saturday night I felt invincible, leaving that first venue with a recipe for duplicating success every time I performed cover songs.
On Monday, I left deflated and embarrassed. I collected my pay and scooted out. Bubble burst.
Oh well. Onwards.