RAY TUTAJ JR./GUITAR JOURNEY

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MUSIC BUSINESS GUIDANCE


Many young musicians seem to think that someday someone is going to knock on their door and make them a musical success. This would be nice, but it is actually the other way around. You need to do the knocking in the music field and let them know whom you are and what you have to offer. You can work toward this by following some basic guidelines and tips below.

1. Be prepared by having your act together. You must have your music together and be ready to perform. You have got to pay your dues somehow, by spending countless hours learning your craft, hopefully with the help of guitar instructors or have studied in a special music school or college.

2. Understand who you are. You are an ambassador of music who wishes to share with others your musical talent/ product/ songs you have written, through performance/ recording. Believe in yourself and have self-confidence. You need the right attitude: You got into music because you enjoy it, and you have become outstanding at creating and playing music and now you want to share it with audiences.

3. You need to have an understanding about how the music business works, by reading about it. There are many good books on the subject available at fine bookstores, or on the Internet. Get to know how the music industry works, so you dont go into it blindly. A lack of knowledge or awareness about the business side of music can hurt you. It is one of the biggest mistakes young aspiring musicians make. Know the roles of an A&R representative, a producer, publisher, manager, booking agent, talent scout, label etc. Read!

  1. You will need a promo package to promote your self/band to others so you can get gigs. This includes a demo recording of a few of your songs, resume/biography and an 8x10 photo and an optional short video. This would be professional on your part. You could also have your own website where one interested may check you or your band out.
  2. You must have a vision and goals which you consistently work toward. This will require patience and sacrifice. Like getting good at your instrument and finding others whom are good at theirs. Create a tight and unique sound and then be ready to show your product to an audience, pursue gigs with the help of your promo package which your band leader or manager can give personally to potential parties.
  3. Perform professionally by playing well; be original in your sound and looks. Have good stage presence, which includes dressing appropriately, and being organized and communicating with your audience. Try not to be cold or distant. You need to get exposure and to put yourself out there. Dont be Shy. You have practiced years for this moment. So just do it!
  4. Be committed with other members of the band. All of you should be on the same page and have the same goals or vision. Strive to get along and work out any disagreements. As a group, make decisions that will benefit the group without egos getting in the way. Getting a band up and running is a lot of work and it takes teamwork. You cant give up easy if you want to make it in the music biz. Get to know other musicians. You never know when you might need a drummer or bass player etc,. Go to your music stores and put up an ad if youre looking for a band member. Or search the internet in musician classifieds.
  5. Count the cost. It takes time and money. You better be able to spend the time behind your instrument to become better. Rehearsal time with your group is necessary in polishing your act. Dont be late! Have your head on straight. Money is needed to buy equipment and accessories for the band. Create a band fund and split the costs equally. The members should be fair to each other. If your serious about your bands future you should obtain a PA system in which all instruments can be plugged in and controlled by a mixing board to make the sound pleasing to the audience. Have a knowledgeable sound person run the board. Ok, now you sound good, how about looking good? Lets hope the place your performing has a nice lighting rack. It would be better to have your own stage lights for your band to look professional. I know this is another expense but if you sound and also look like pros, people will be very impressed and you will turn a lot of heads. Your bands reputation will grow and your following will become bigger. You have begun to make a big noise in the world of music. Playing live helps you to get better. As a band you should be tight. This means to have your songs well rehearsed. Have the intros and endings worked out. Try to relax and look your best when on stage. Go from one song to the next without the band voting on what song to do next. If youre a classical guitarist you need to dress the part. If youre a rock heavy act then dress accordingly. If youre a country artist you might want a pair of cowboy boots and hat
  6. When working on your songs, try recording yourself and listen back and correct anything that is not pleasing to the ear. You could also videotape yourself and correct anything that may not be pleasing to the eye.

     

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  7. Promote your gig or performance by telling others and have them spread the word. Advertise in the papers and put up some flyers where you can. At the performance have a mailing list people can join in order to get info on your next performance date. Spend some of your band profits on paid advertising in the papers and on radio.
  8. Play any chance you get to help build up your following and reputation. Enter contests or battle of the band competitions or play for benefits to get your music out there. If you have connections to get airplay on the radio, then go for it. Be prepared! Maybe the DJ will want to interview you and he will play a song or two of yours. You can tell the listening audience about your upcoming gig. This is great exposure. You never know whos out there in the audience. They may have connections.
  9. Write original songs at least every couple weeks and if you do cover tunes then change them every so often. Stay fresh. Dont ever bore your audience. Be original and creative. They want to see you perform by playing some cool sounds that youve worked hard and long on. Give them a dose of music you both like, and enjoy playing it too. If you have pleased the audience they will come back for more and wont mind paying to see you because youre worth it.
  10. The audience needs to know who you are. So have a banner flying behind your band for all to see. During your music break at your gigs, get out there and meet people, thank them for coming, show your appreciation. Dont hide in the corner or isolate yourself. You just might meet someone who could help your band. Even if it is just showing up at your next gig or buying your latest recording. You need to build a following. The bigger the fanbase the more the people higher up in the music biz will take notice.
  11. Strike where and when the iron is hot. If you live in a small town of 500 people you will have a rough time getting noticed there. You have to be willing to go to where the crowds are. Find all the hot spots, which will like your brand of music you have to offer. Go to where you have a better chance of being recognized. Even online.
  12. Just remember that you have spent time and money at learning to play music because you love it and it makes you feel good and all you want to do is play your heart and soul to others. For you are an ambassador of music. Share this music with others and the world. Advertise, hype up the band, and watch it grow!
  13. Networking involves meeting other people. Be friendly to those you meet in your music world. They may have connections. Shake hands and exchange business cards to others that are in the field. They could be music storeowners, music agents, sound engineers, other musicians, producers, concert promoters, etc.
  14. Take advantage of the Internet. There you can advertise you or your musical group. You can also search classifieds for other players in your area or hook up with a band in need of a guitarist in another town or city. You can also find gig opportunities too. This aspect of the music biz is really advantageous to artists at all levels. Maybe theres a well-known band taking auditions, and who knows it could be your big break. You should give it a shot.
  15. Many bands break up due to arguments and fighting, lack of dedication, or lack of perseverance. If everyone thinks you have a big ego or chip on your shoulder and you cant get along with people, then this means trouble. Dont let that ego ruin your band. Youre a team. If youre a good group who produces fine music, then stick with it. Hang in there through all the ups and downs. I guarantee you will have tough times. You will have to be tough too. Become a family. Make sacrifices for the good of the band. But if it doesnt work out, you must start all over again and that can wear you out.
  16. And finally one needs to make sacrifices for the art of music. You cant be loaded down with too much to bear. You need the energy and mental capacity for your music. Debt, domestic bullcrap and even girlfriends or marriage takes away time, money and energy from your goals, unless your lucky and have a true "helpmate." If you believe in your music you will make the necessary living adjustments to help push your music. There are so many things that can stand in your way and keep you from realizing your dreams. It is not easy if you wish to take your music to the top. But if you are serious and dedicated you can do it!

Ray Tutaj Jr.

"The essence of knowledge is, having it, to use it."

- Confucius

"When society or system represses one from being free to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is a criminal assault upon that persons life."

 

 

HAVING A SUCCESSFUL PERFORMANCE


When performing in front of an audience, there are some things to consider making sure the people out there enjoy your entertainment. You too, want to have a good feeling about your performance when done.

I am speaking from experience after just doing rather poorly at a gig the day before and not being able to sleep last night knowing the show was not as successful as I would have liked. In this situation I was a solo guitarist performing at a local art festival. At this annual event I usually have one of my finer students perform with me. We were slotted to play after a piano soloist. As the time quickly approached before our moment to perform, a phone call informed me that my student will be later than expected and that he would make it in just under the wire. Somehow I knew that this is not a good start and now I just might have to do a couple pieces alone. Not exactly having prepared for this scenario. But, just at the last moment my fine student arrived and we where thrust upon the stage in a fury, tuned in front of the eager crowd and dived right in to our song list.

The comment made most after the performance and even during (reading my moms lips) was, "Turn up, louder, we cant hear you." It seems as if the audience could barely hear me when I announced the pieces we would be playing. I thought I really was loud enough and wouldnt need the Mic that the MC had. For we were relatively close to the people. Well, I was mistaken again. I should of brought a mic stand and clipped the mic on and set it right out in front of me just like I had a gut feeling I should of. I guess I was a bit lazy and assumed they would all hear all right. My guitar was not as loud as my students due to some technical problem even though I had it all the way up. Of course it sounded fine at home. The audience had to strain to listen to us perform and that is not good. I should have brought the bigger equipment like I thought I should have and therefore would have been confident about the volume level. Once again I guess I was a bit lazy or I could try blaming it on the cold weather and that it was another freebie gig. Since I was to be the "roadie" too, I did not want to haul my heavy amplifier, speaker, and processor, so I brought my small little amplifier. It just doesnt cut it for a large room. Another lesson learned, but what makes me disappointed was I really knew better about this.

So first of all:

  1. Make sure your volume on your voice and instrument will be loud enough to be heard by even the people sitting in the back row. Dont let them strain to hear you!
  2. Be comfortable while on the stage. If you are playing classical guitar solo material then be seated properly. Any difference in reaching for your neck than what you are used to will bring about wrong notes. If you are reading music, have the stand where you can see it. Or better yet, have the music memorized so you have nothing as a barrier between you and your audience.
  3. Try to relax and know that being nervous before getting in the spotlight is normal. You do not want to let the stage fright affect your concentration. Focus on what you are doing and do your best to play very well. To compensate for your anxiety it helps to know your material thoroughly until you can play it in your sleep. If a mistake is made here and there just keep playing and dont stop, find your way through to the end. If youre confident in your ability as a performer you will do fine and the audience will appreciate your efforts. If your nervous about playing in front of the crowd, try picking someone out of the audience that you tell yourself you are going to perform for. Play good for that one person and in the end youll have played great for all who have attended and youll both be pleased.
  4. Dont forget to dress the part! Its really simple: Just make sure you are wearing something that goes along with your performance. If youre a soloist, then wear something nice that sets you apart from a roadie or something. I shouldnt have to elaborate on this point. You are taking the stage to be seen and heard so look good and sound good. When you got your performing clothes on you got your act together and you will even do better.
  5. Breaking the ice with your audience is vital. There are a number of ways to communicate with your audience. Talking to them before you start and sometimes between songs. Eye contact is good, and try to look like you are enjoying what you are doing by not looking sad or gloomy if possible. A smile can do wonders just like a little story or a bit of info about the song your about to play and if you can be heard this will break the ice between you and your audience. Many performers are as stiff as a board when they perform and if you bent their arm it just might snap off. If youre sitting as I do at most of my solo gigs it is tougher to make much movement. But you can tap your foot to the beat of the music, make a few glances out to the audience and try to show some expressiveness and emotion from the music you are playing. I have found that a stool is effective in getting me a bit higher off the floor and still am able to execute my solo/classical pieces properly without having to reach for parts. The stool or even standing with a strap is fine too but I personally find standing very restrictive when playing classical guitar works. Anyway, whatever it takes to reach your audience do it!
  6. Be prepared mentally and physically. Hopefully you are rested so you can concentrate without being tired. It is also a good idea not to eat a big meal no less than three-to five hours before a gig. Get to the place of performance early and allow plenty of set up time. If you get a chance to get onto the stage to run through a couple tunes this would be good. This helps to adjust to your environment and decide on any sound reinforcement needs. Set-up time includes getting your instrument tuned and warming up with a few of the more difficult passages of music you will be playing. Nothing should break your mental focus before a gig. You need to concentrate only on your music and nothing else. Consider everything you can think of to make the performance experience be smooth for you. It helps if you dont have a whole lot of stress on your mind. For instance one day before a performance I got a phone call from a popular retail store and they said I owed them $4.000.00 from recent purchases and I had never made any transactions with this co. To make a long story short I was a victim of fraud and it took time and paperwork to prove myself. I dont have to tell you that I did poorly at the solo gig to the point of embarrassment and extreme disappointment with myself. I just couldnt concentrate considering the stress piled on me only a few hours earlier. Or, you dont need a phone call 25 minutes before the gig to go pick up your late student who cant get there because one of the parents has locked themself out of their car at work and cant get him to the show. This kind of stress breaks concentration instantly. Unfortunately, this gig too was not as good as I had liked. We just were not as ready as I had wanted to be. Next time I will be with the student(s) at least one hour ahead of time to help them be mentally and physically prepared too.

Well I hope you have learned something from this little chat. And, from now on I will do everything in my power to make sure I am not another victim of not being heard!

 

 

"Any good plan preserves flexibility"

 

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

-Eleanor Roosevelt

"Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms." - Grouch Marx