How To Get The Break Every Time

Ask any star what his or her ‘big break’ was and most of the time you won’t get a straight answer. It’s not because she is trying to dodge the question or because he is embarrassed about it. It’s because there was no “big break.”

Every successful musician’s career is made up of many little breaks.

The overnight success story was really 10 years in the making. Gigging non stop. Touring empty clubs. Hustling music supervisors. “Showcasing” in front of “big wigs” and “performing” in front of “nobodies.”

But once and awhile one of the music supervisors opens the email, listens to the song and has a spot for it in this week’s episode. Or the headliner of the show you were asked to be the local opener for pokes their head out of the green room just long enough to be wowed and asks you to join the tour.

One tour or one song placement won’t make a career, though.

But how do you get that local opening spot to have that chance? How do you get the music supervisor to open your email? How do you do you get a gig at your local club? How do you meet the videographers to create your viral video? How do you find the producer to create your hit record?

You have to be on people’s radars.

I just ran into someone at a show who I hadn’t seen in months. We got to talking and a few days later she called me and offered me a gig.

She absolutely would have not thought to offer me the gig in a town of thousands of fantastic musicians had we not run into each other a couple nights prior.

It was because I was on her radar.

The majority of the opportunities I’ve gotten have not been because someone thought I was the best for the job. It was because we had just had lunch or she had just read my tweet or we just ran into each other at a show.

Why so many people move out to LA is because the movers and shakers are out here and if you brush shoulders with them enough they could help you.

But there’s no one way to go about it. There’s no magic email you can send. There’s no formula.

You have to get out into the world and meet people. Be kind. Be likable. Be the person that others WANT to help.

The next time the club owner needs to fill a date, maybe she’ll give you a call.

The next time your friend’s band gets a tour, maybe he’ll think of you to join.

The next time your old roommate from college needs a song for her ad campaign, maybe she’ll shoot you an email.

And invariable, it will be one of your many little breaks.

Photo by Pichado Photography from Flickr used with the Creative Commons License

5 Responses

  1. Joshua Sanders

    Without question , the smartest bit of advice I have heard….all day! Yea just keep plugging away dudes y dudettes, basically that is what it is all about. Helps if you like to play enough so that playing for 4 people does not upset you! But the way I always look at that is, I just like playing in bands with others, and if people are there to watch, that is cool too!

  2. Chuck Hughes

    It is actually possible to avoid playing empty clubs, by sending your promo out to entertainment editors and your music to public radio a couple months in advance, offering them free admission to your show and a drink. You will also need a short bio with an interesting hook. This actually works better than a hired publicist, because the writers are flattered that you mailed/emailed/called in person. If you’re going to drive 7,000 miles you might as well go the extra step to get the fans out. No one else is going to do it. It is hard work, but beats playing a dead tour.

  3. Bruce Ferber

    Great advice and critical to success for a musician/band! Unspoken is that, ultimately, it’s still all about the music. You can have great connections and be a master networker, but if your music sucks, no one’s going to put their neck out just because you’re a good guy or are likeable.

  4. toobad

    Yup… and as your circle gains in importance so to do the looks you get from them…

  5. niklasjblixt

    Great advice! You can’t sit in your dungeon or den making great music an think that one day you’ll get the big break. You’ll have to let people know that you’re there, and what you’re doing. Connecting with people is something that could make or brake you, you’ll have to connect with people.

    Great post!