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  • Getting Started in the Solo/Duo Market

    I have been wanting to get into the solo/duo market for a few years now, but I don't even know where to begin. I figured that maybe this thread could be a good resource for people like myself.

    With full bands/combos, my "in" has always been a mixture of posting flyers looking for bandmembers, going to Open Jams, and auditioning to be in someone else's band first before moving on to establish my own. It was a little tough to get into the Grand Forks scene at first, which is one of the reasons I chose to become a bassist/keyboardist in a country-rock band when I first moved here. After a few years, I finally have made enough of a name for myself in the scene to do what I usually do (vocalist/guitarist/bandleader).

    In my particular area, it seems like places that actually pay for acoustic music are drying up. Restaurants that previously featured it once a week have eliminated live music completely from their schedule (first The Blue Moose a few years ago and later Applebee's). I was told to get people's attention, you need to "be awesome," whatever that means for each person. Well, I can sing fairly well and I can definitely hold people's attention when I play fingerstyle. But as far as breaking in to begin with, I haven't a clue.

    Are there any good ideas for places (or people) to get your foot in the door in this world?
    (This is my Non-Signature.)

  • #2
    Hmmm...absolutely no response.

    I guess this forum is only for people who are already out there doing it. Duly noted.
    (This is my Non-Signature.)

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    • #3
      This is what I got when I posted a similar question a while back: http://acapella.harmony-central.com/showthread.php?2824511-Getting-started...suggestions

      Maybe there are some ideas there for you.
      Brian V.
      "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." - Bertrand Russell

      Comment


      • #4
        I started doing this almost a year ago. I'm gigging about 2 or 3 times a month. You do it the same way you book your regular act. A CD in hand and a business card; schlep to the local haunts that don't book a full band for a glad-to-meet-you meet-n-greet. Shoot e-mails with a link to your music to all the places you're too lazy to drive to on your day off. My business card and the fancy-pants label I put on my discs gets noticed; it was time well spent on the computer.

        Warm up act for others: do a couple (free, if you need to) warm up 50 minute gigs for fellow bands. Then chat up the owner during the regular band's set.

        And: stamina, baby! It's a different thing than doing three hours with a band. The tunes are all less than 3 minutes long 'cause there's no couple chorus of solos and a vamp at the end. You'll need twice as many songs, and you'll be twice as tired when you're done. As usual, the first gigs are a pain in the ass to get, but after the owner likes you the rest are easy-easy-easy. And don't be afraid to ask for some money. You can come down in price way easier than you can go up in price. "Oh, too much bread? Well, what works for you, baby?" Use as many jazz terms as you can. "Solid", "Cats", etc. Just kidding. Or, maybe not?

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        • #5
          Forgive my pessimism, but do consider that this is not a clever time to enter the singles/duos market. And know, as pretty much anyone here can tell you, that the entertainment business is no friend to age. I won't say "don't do it" but consider your options and the incontrovertible fact that life is finite.
          All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

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          • #6
            This is what I got when I posted a similar question a while back: http://acapella.harmony-central.com/showthread.php?2824511-Getting-started...suggestions

            Maybe there are some ideas there for you.
            Brian V.


            Thanks! Very helpful, especially the comment about always, always, always having a business card, promo pack, etc. handy. I keep business cards in my car at all times and usually put a few in my wallet too.
            (This is my Non-Signature.)

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            • #7
              I started doing this almost a year ago. I'm gigging about 2 or 3 times a month. You do it the same way you book your regular act. A CD in hand and a business card; schlep to the local haunts that don't book a full band for a glad-to-meet-you meet-n-greet. Shoot e-mails with a link to your music to all the places you're too lazy to drive to on your day off. My business card and the fancy-pants label I put on my discs gets noticed; it was time well spent on the computer.

              Warm up act for others: do a couple (free, if you need to) warm up 50 minute gigs for fellow bands. Then chat up the owner during the regular band's set.

              And: stamina, baby! It's a different thing than doing three hours with a band. The tunes are all less than 3 minutes long 'cause there's no couple chorus of solos and a vamp at the end. You'll need twice as many songs, and you'll be twice as tired when you're done. As usual, the first gigs are a pain in the ass to get, but after the owner likes you the rest are easy-easy-easy. And don't be afraid to ask for some money. You can come down in price way easier than you can go up in price. "Oh, too much bread? Well, what works for you, baby?" Use as many jazz terms as you can. "Solid", "Cats", etc. Just kidding. Or, maybe not?


              Excellent ideas, ptkbass. Thank you very much!
              (This is my Non-Signature.)

              Comment


              • #8
                Forgive my pessimism, but do consider that this is not a clever time to enter the singles/duos market. And know, as pretty much anyone here can tell you, that the entertainment business is no friend to age. I won't say "don't do it" but consider your options and the incontrovertible fact that life is finite.


                ^And then there is this post.

                Oh, well. I guess somebody has to play Devil's Advocate...
                (This is my Non-Signature.)

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                • #9
                  ^And then there is this post.

                  Oh, well. I guess somebody has to play Devil's Advocate...


                  Not at all. I mean it. Don't waste your life in a dying niche. I regret this, because it's a good venue for my own talents and it's a model I'm comfy with. But it's sure as hell no way to make a living for all but a very few. And if you "haven't a clue" you may lack the necessary instincts to self-promote as you'll need to do.
                  All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

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                  • #10
                    Not at all. I mean it. Don't waste your life in a dying niche. I regret this, because it's a good venue for my own talents and it's a model I'm comfy with. But it's sure as hell no way to make a living for all but a very few. And if you "haven't a clue" you may lack the necessary instincts to self-promote as you'll need to do.


                    I guess my biggest problem is that I rarely go out. I don't go to restaurants all the time, nor see a lot of local bands. I don't go to all the art and music fair stuff, kissing hands and shaking babies . That's really my biggest problem as far as networking and promotion. But I do have a website and I know it sees a fair amount of traffic, and people do recognize me on a regular basis. It's just that I'm still at a point where I have to knock on a lot of doors just like everyone else. As with anything, I have a feeling once my foot is in the door, it will take off. Just getting that first gig as a solo is the trick.

                    I'll tell ya what, though. I do agree with you to a point...the most popular solo acoustic performer I ever saw around here was very good-looking, female and young. While all the other guys at the Open Mic were promoting the heck out of themselves on Myspace and Facebook, she didn't even have a page, yet she had all kinds of people willing to help her out...and she wasn't even asking! Her vocal and guitar ability wasn't especially remarkable, but all the other elements she possessed made up for it.

                    I mean, I am aware that the trend these days for mainstream success is very young, very pretty, very female singers/musicians. I don't see that solo/duos are a dying niche, though, nor do I see that with bands. If anything, I see bands either continuing to shrink in size (solos, duos, trios) or really expanding (10 piece horn band playing KC and the Sunshine Band, Stevie Wonder, Chicago, etc.). The four- and five-piece combos will have a tougher time as the years go on I think.

                    And just to clarify, I'm not looking to quit my day job to make a living as a troubadour or anything. It's just another avenue of musicianship and creative expression I'd like to explore.
                    (This is my Non-Signature.)

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                    • #11
                      Don't waste your life in a dying niche. ...(snip).... But it's sure as hell no way to make a living for all but a very few.


                      Really? I mean, I know damn well that music will never support me to the level at which I'm accustomed. But I'm making a whole lot more money solo than I ever did with a band----and it's not even close. Plus, I'm home by 100pm.

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                      • #12
                        Not at all. I mean it. Don't waste your life in a dying niche. I regret this, because it's a good venue for my own talents and it's a model I'm comfy with. But it's sure as hell no way to make a living for all but a very few. And if you "haven't a clue" you may lack the necessary instincts to self-promote as you'll need to do.



                        Who said anything about making a living at it?

                        I stared doing solo stuff about 6 years ago and haven't regretted it. In the past month I've made an extra 800 or so dollars just as a solo, working 3 weekend nights and a few weeknights. I've made as much as 1300 in a month. Not getting rich but it's a nice supplement to my regular income and buys me my toys. Tim, just hit some venues and ask them. You need to decide what kind of venues you want to pursue, as the restaurant/wine bar gigs will be a lot different than bar gigs. I avoid bars as a solo and do all winery/restaurant/gallery type listening gigs. They're easier to get, require much less gear, and pay pretty well compared to bars.
                        http://www.patcoast.com"The guy would be strumming along, singing the verse to “Margarittavile” and then he would hit his harmonizer pedal for the chorus. It went from sounding like a guy singing and playing guitar to sounding like the Stephen Hawkings trio."-Christhee68" the singer of my cover band used to find it funny to let out gaseous forms of vile hate and sadness that would make a plaster baby Jesus weep."- FitchFY

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                        • #13
                          I think it always helps to network with other solo/duo acts... at least around here. Whenever I book a new venue, I make sure to talk up the other GOOD acts and get them in touch with the managers. Usually they return the favor, and you help to create a vibe in your area that makes booking easier... once you're in the rotation at a few places it can really snowball.
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                          • #14
                            Who said anything about making a living at it?

                            I stared doing solo stuff about 6 years ago and haven't regretted it. In the past month I've made an extra 800 or so dollars just as a solo, working 3 weekend nights and a few weeknights. I've made as much as 1300 in a month. Not getting rich but it's a nice supplement to my regular income and buys me my toys. Tim, just hit some venues and ask them. You need to decide what kind of venues you want to pursue, as the restaurant/wine bar gigs will be a lot different than bar gigs. I avoid bars as a solo and do all winery/restaurant/gallery type listening gigs. They're easier to get, require much less gear, and pay pretty well compared to bars.


                            YUP. I'm learning this lesson. I also like playing private parties and functions. Basically anything that is NOT a loud smokey bar with drunks.

                            EDIT - Get enough drinks in anyone and they'll start yelling "Free Bird" and honestly think it's funny.
                            ---
                            Richard MacLemale
                            My Website at www.richardmac.com

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                            • #15
                              YUP. I'm learning this lesson. I also like playing private parties and functions. Basically anything that is NOT a loud smokey bar with drunks.

                              EDIT - Get enough drinks in anyone and they'll start yelling "Free Bird" and honestly think it's funny.


                              Last Friday, I was playing a gallery for ArtWalk. During the gig, I got a call on my cell phone from the wine bar/restaurant I play often a block up the street- their weekend band was a no-show and asked if I could play with my duo partner. So as soon as the gallery gig was finished, I moved my stuff a block up the street and did the restaurant- and that Friday netted me 210 dollars. We did Saturday, too, for 150 apiece and tips and dinner. If I had to do that with my band, I'd have never been able to pull it off. Solo, I can be at a gig from my house and set up in a half an hour.
                              http://www.patcoast.com"The guy would be strumming along, singing the verse to “Margarittavile” and then he would hit his harmonizer pedal for the chorus. It went from sounding like a guy singing and playing guitar to sounding like the Stephen Hawkings trio."-Christhee68" the singer of my cover band used to find it funny to let out gaseous forms of vile hate and sadness that would make a plaster baby Jesus weep."- FitchFY

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