You have spent years learning to play bass, invested loads of money on gear and now you want to get out there and earn some money as a pro musician. You might have a regular band or two or you might be a solely freelance session player. Either way, you need a strategy to find bands and groups who might need a helping hand now and again (for a fee of course 😉 ).
There are certain kinds of music work that tend to be paid. Gigs with a rock band at the local pub tend to be at the lower end of the spectrum, whilst a new years eve party with a slick show band for a multinational company will tend to be at the higher end. Whichever end you are looking at, the basic idea is the same. If the band leader needs to find a stand-in for one of their musicians, they want someone who can deliver the goods on the night and probably without any rehearsal time. With that goal in mind, here are a few tips on how you can fit in to that role.
1. Firstly, take stock of where you are now. You need to identify what you think you are good at and what value you can bring to a band or musical situation. If you are only used to playing in one particular style then you are going to be quite limited as to the scope of work you will be able to take on. Consider doing some more training in a certain musical area if you think that it will lead to being able to take on more varied gigs. For example, if there is a thriving jazz scene in the town you are from and you don’t know how to play jazz – well, you know what to do!
2. Ask people that you know. It’s a well known fact that word of mouth is king in the music world. If I’m looking for a dep player then I’ll invariably ask people I know or see if they know anybody else who can do it. This can be tricky when you are starting out as you might not have a big circle of musician friends. Don’t worry though, ask the ones that you do know and make sure they remember you for the future.
3. Get yourself a website or at least some social media profiles where people can see what you can do. A band will give you the gig if they feel confident that you can play and will do the required learning. Send a link to your page(s) to people who are searching for a bass player. You can also advertise yourself on forums as available for gig work. Just be careful here though as most forums don’t allow this kind of advertising, you need to wait for someone to advertise before posting your site and inviting them to look.
4. Join social media groups where musicians post looking for stand ins. Some good examples of these are: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ukmusiciansforgigs/
You need to make sure that your account is set to notify you when someone posts in one of these groups. This is not usually the default setting and if you don’t check them you will probably miss out on posts relevant to you. Be prepared to look through posts on a daily basis for ones that are of benefit to you!
5. Consider the kind of work you want to take on. You might be able to commit to a longer contract on a cruise ship that might be for a few months. Again, you can find out about opportunities like this through agencies and online groups.
6. Take a lesson from another bass player. This is especially useful if you have moved to a new area and need to get to know people. If you are good and respected then you know who that teacher is going to call the next time they have a gig to fill?