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Thread: Gigging as a Teenager

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    Default Gigging as a Teenager

    I'm 14, and I was wondering how someone could get gigs at my age. I have played at a few places for community service, but never a paying gig. I'm not expecting to get a high paying gig, just something where I can earn a few bucks. So, how do teenagers get gigs?

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Do you have a band? If not, form one or join one.

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    I don't have a band, but there are people that I play with sometimes who could play with me at a gig.

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Talk to people. Check craigslist, send out emails, make phone calls. Make friends who are good musicians, hang out with them and play with them whenever you can. Honestly, at your age, it's gonna be tough. Most people your age aren't either good enough to gig, or aren't confident enough. A good few of your older peers won't take you seriously because of your age. Not being old enough to drive yourself to gigs will also make things tough. I don't mean to be a downer, but the practical advice I have is to get back to the shed and practice like a madman until you're 16, maybe even 18 and in college, then start working on gigs. Other than that, networking is key. It's not what you know, but who you know.
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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 MyMartinTenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    I got gigs in high school by forming a very strong jazz combo with guys from my school and a few schools around. We played real book charts, but everyone in the group was really top notch state-level folks (everyone in that group except for me and the piano player are now significant pros). I have a family friend who ran a recording studio at a local university, and we did a demo tape there. I aggressively handed out the demo to area restaurants, etc., along with business cards that I had printed up.

    We eventually got some gigs for some political fundraisers. Once we got one of those, we handed out cards, and got a number more of them. They were good money. We also got some basic restaurant gigs, that were less cash.

    This was HARD to do. If I hadn't been surrounded by some AMAZING musicians, I couldn't have done it as a high schooler.

    The only other way I got any work back then was through my private teacher. He was an area pro, and was able to get me a few (VERY FEW -- like two) paid gigs that he didn't want to cover. Those gigs were with a bad dance band playing a retirement community. The old folks thought it was awesome that this 15 year old was playing with the band, taking solos. I got paid very very little, but it was good experience, and my teacher hooked me up there.

    Basically, I spent high school in the shed. Good luck.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 MyMartinTenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Quote Originally Posted by goldberg447 View Post
    I don't have a band, but there are people that I play with sometimes who could play with me at a gig.
    Think so? Maybe! I'm not trying to be a downer, but seriously consider whether people would want to pay to listen to all the musicians in your group. If not, find someone else.

    Also consider if you really could "play . . . gigs" with these people. Are they reliable? Show up on time? Act professional? Help you market the band? So many factors go into finding the right bandmates if you're really starting to try to gig.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member Fader's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    You need a rehearsed band -not just some players you know. Then you need some rudimentary promotional stuff - A video of you guys (or gals) playing would do it. Then you can go after the school dances at your school. Get one or two of those under your belt and you can go after some neighboring school dances and functions. I played a few school dances as a young teen. Also did a thing at the local country club for other teens maybe once or twice during the summer. You really need 3 hours of music for something like this - It's not just a throw-together thing at (what I assume is) your level of playing. You also need a suitable set-list. As soon as you want to compete with the pros who vie for those gigs, you have to offer a competitive service. If you're not looking for pay- enter some "battle of the bands" events in your community. You can also run right down to the nearest retirement home and offer to play. They'd love to see you. They will even invite you back if you're any good at all. Your question is a good one. There's not a lot I can think of.

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    At age 14, I will assume that you are still in school. And it is good that you want to play gigs now. Can you get into the school band program? Do they have a pep band that plays for the basketball and football games? Any avenue for playing and reading is good.

    I was playing for free at your age in the 50's at the local Elks, Moose and VFW. That is a good way to learn. The downside is smoking in some clubs if that bothers you and a few heavy drinkers that get carried away but that comes with a lot of the gigs. Not sure that your parents will agree to these places.

    As suggested it would be good if you can get a few friends to form a band. You just need drums, guitar and bass. If one of the players can sing you can start with some simple "pop" tunes which always work with the general public. Keep at it. Something will eventually happen.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member artstove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Put together a band - people want to hire a band that they can count on to play, not a guy who may or may not be able to put together a pick-up group of unknown ability. Once you have the band, tell everyone you know about it - parents, friends, parents of friends, teachers, facebook, etc. Look for events that are on a budget - private parties, block parties, community events, office parties. Play for free if it is good exposure. A (very nice) neighborhood near me has an annual 4th of July party that EVERYONE goes to, and there is a little parade with a band on a flatbed truck. Have postcards/flyers to hand out.

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    I started playing with a piano player when I was about 16. Local bar gig playing Billy Joel stuff. No arrangements - just filling in solos. I lot of kids hook up with church or Temple musicians. I've always found joining working bands much more profitable than try to start something on my own - I tried a jazz quartet thing for a while but lining up musicians was an endless task. You could always open your case and play on the street. I think the school band might be a good place to start.

    One more thing - I did meet a sax player that had a small PA and had backing tracks. He played a lot of cocktail sets. Seemed to make pretty good money. Add some vocals and you'd be set.

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    I already play in a school concert band, audition wind ensemble, and an audition jazz ensemble. I'm 1st chair in all of them. I also play in a small combo at my school that is taught by a high school piano player. This is something I want to do outside. I've played with a few friends at a nursing home and at a place where cancer patients can stay while they are undergoing treatment. I am going back to both of them soon. I was just wondering about how I could get gigs and earn a little bit of money. I know I won't get anything big, but maybe play at a restaurant or play on the street as mentioned by A Greene. I've gotten a few good ideas from this (make a cd and give it to local restaurants, etc.)

    Back on to playing on the street, is it legal? Do I have to get a license? Is it a federal law, a state law, or a town law?

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    Forum Contributor 2011 Dave C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Regarding playing on the street (busking) I have no idea regarding your local and federal laws, that's something you'd need to check out for yourself.

    Other than that you need to find a location where you'll be safe, and then you still need to think about having someone around to watch your back as some people may view you as a soft target owing to your age.

    If you can find a good location with plenty of passing trade, maybe some tourists etc it is possible to make some money. Advantages are your overheads are virtually nil and you won't have to share your income (assuming it's just you playing, not with friends).

    And you'll find out if other people like your music. If they don't you won't make much money...........
    No product to sell, no axe to grind....

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    I can't find anything online in my town about busking (whether you need a permit, whether it's legal, etc.) I'll keep looking, though.

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    search this forum on busking

    for example, http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthr...ng-experiences
    The Martin "Official Music Man" tenor, Barone black tenor, The Martin baritone, Richards Martin Indiana alto, cheap Chinese soprano, Metalite mouthpieces, Plasticover reeds, Nord Electro 2, bunch of other instruments
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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Quote Originally Posted by goldberg447 View Post
    Back on to playing on the street, is it legal? Do I have to get a license? Is it a federal law, a state law, or a town law?
    It is probably controlled by local (city or county) law. There is no federal law on it; state law is a possibility, but usually that kind of thing is regulated locally. Often it is only big cities with lots of musicians, or places with a super-tidy sense of order that will have laws or regulations.

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Quote Originally Posted by artstove View Post
    It is probably controlled by local (city or county) law. There is no federal law on it; state law is a possibility, but usually that kind of thing is regulated locally. Often it is only big cities with lots of musicians, or places with a super-tidy sense of order that will have laws or regulations.
    I wouldn't be playing in a big city, just the small town I live in. I can't find anything on my town's website, or anywhere else. I guess there aren't regulations for it in my town. Maybe I should just try doing it sometime on public and see if anyone tells me I have to stop.

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    there's some good advice in this thread, but it kinda depends on you. What kind of music do you want to play? What kinds of venues do you want to play in? Do you prefer to play with others or are you fine playing with backing tracks? How technically savvy are you? Can you make a CD with backing tracks? If so, you can print up CD covers on the computer and some business cards and contact restaurant owners directly. Find out which places have music. See if you can persuade the owner/manager of a place you'd like to play to try live music. If you'd rather play with other people, can you find a good guitarist or keybd player? A duo makes a nice restaurant gig. Add a bass or drums or both and you've got a band.

    Playing music is easy. The hard part is hustling gigs. You have to be out there, making the calls, talking to people, letting them know you can provide music for their event, whatever it may be. You have to have some promotional materials so they can see and hear what kind of music you have.

    An alternative to doing this yourself is to have a stage mom or dad. I'm half-serious. There's a successful rock band of 11-year-olds where I live who have had some very high profile gigs, been on network TV, etc. But they have parents who are really workin' it.

    It's hard for me to imagine a 14-year-old hustling gigs on his own. My suggestion is to get some help, either with making music or producing promotional materials and marketing the music or getting the gigs. It's gonna be hard for adults to take a young teen musician seriously unless you can show them you've got the goods.
    The Martin "Official Music Man" tenor, Barone black tenor, The Martin baritone, Richards Martin Indiana alto, cheap Chinese soprano, Metalite mouthpieces, Plasticover reeds, Nord Electro 2, bunch of other instruments
    Wall Of Blues, youtube video, P-Town All-Stars, get Rich, Cannons (my band in the 60's) and Cannons record

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMusicMan View Post
    there's some good advice in this thread, but it kinda depends on you. What kind of music do you want to play? What kinds of venues do you want to play in? Do you prefer to play with others or are you fine playing with backing tracks? How technically savvy are you? Can you make a CD with backing tracks? If so, you can print up CD covers on the computer and some business cards and contact restaurant owners directly. Find out which places have music. See if you can persuade the owner/manager of a place you'd like to play to try live music. If you'd rather play with other people, can you find a good guitarist or keybd player? A duo makes a nice restaurant gig. Add a bass or drums or both and you've got a band.

    Playing music is easy. The hard part is hustling gigs. You have to be out there, making the calls, talking to people, letting them know you can provide music for their event, whatever it may be. You have to have some promotional materials so they can see and hear what kind of music you have.

    An alternative to doing this yourself is to have a stage mom or dad. I'm half-serious. There's a successful rock band of 11-year-olds where I live who have had some very high profile gigs, been on network TV, etc. But they have parents who are really workin' it.

    It's hard for me to imagine a 14-year-old hustling gigs on his own. My suggestion is to get some help, either with making music or producing promotional materials and marketing the music or getting the gigs. It's gonna be hard for adults to take a young teen musician seriously unless you can show them you've got the goods.
    Would it be legal to use the program iReal B as a backing track?

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Quote Originally Posted by goldberg447 View Post
    Would it be legal to use the program iReal B as a backing track?
    There are plenty of folks here that play solo with backing tracks. I wouldn't aspire to be one of them. It's tacky, demeaning and represents the kareoke-ization of insturmental music that is the death of the heart and soul of our artform. If it's not a musical choice based purely upon saving a buck from either the player's or venue's perspective, then you can be sure no one else will play with such artists. Either way it's a blight. Form a band, or join one, and play music instead.

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    Default Re: Gigging as a Teenager

    Kudos dude. I can barely get guys to play with me and I'm 18.

    BUT! The only real advice I can give you, from my relatively small gigging experience:

    Just make sure you're completely professional with people. I found, when I was younger (or looked younger), that adults would tend to brush me off when I first started talking to them about trying to play. Shake their hand, introduce yourself.

    When I'm looking for places to play, I try to find the goofy places that I could picture sitting and listening to others play. There's an independent coffee shop I just grabbed a gig at. A cozy little place in the city with a courtyard in the back.

    Good luck, I'd like to hear you play.

    -Bubba-

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