Three strategies to make the most of gig season

Well everyone, it’s officially gig season.

We’re currently in the wonderful time of year where gigs seem to be raining down from the sky on anyone with an instrument in their closet.

Whether it’s another performance of The Messiah, a random caroling gig, a holiday party, or maybe some church services, this is the best time of year for us freelancers.

But there’s just one problem with this time of year:

It only lasts for a few months before everything slows down again.

Once December finishes, the party’s over for most freelancers until the spring rolls around.

Most musicians go from turning down gigs when they’re booked solid to feeling lucky if they get a single gig in months when the work dries up.

This sucks.

Trust me, I know because I’ve been there.

But I’ve got good news for you.

Busy months are an amazing opportunity to begin planting seeds for future opportunities that will help keep you working in the slower times of the year.

I’m going to share three things that anyone can do during the busy gig season to open up other opportunities throughout the year.

As you know, there are no magic bullets when it comes to a career in freelancing, but motivated freelancers like yourself know that you can directly influence the amount of work you get if you make the most of every opportunity during the busy season.

Ready to dive in?

Let’s get started.

1. Know How to Turn Down a Gig With Style

One of the biggest missed opportunities is when you have to turn down a gig.

It’s the most annoying thing in the world when you have to say “no”, but it doesn’t have to be a negative thing.

Whether you can do the gig or not, the contractor still has to hire someone so ALWAYS send some other names they can try in case they need help filling the spot.

Anyone who has ever done any hiring can tell you that it can be a huge pain-in-the-ass to fill a section.

This is especially true during the busy times of year, so don’t be shy about recommending your peers.

When you do this, you’re doing everyone a favor.

The contractor will thank you for making their life easier and the other musicians you recommend will thank you if your recommendation lands them a gig.

It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

This is a great way to build relationships with other musicians without even meeting them in person.

To help you do this, here’s a word-for-word script you can use to recommend others when you have to turn down a gig:

Hi contractor that contacted you,

Thank you so much for reaching out, but unfortunately I’m not available to play this time around.

In case you need any help filling the spot, I highly recommend the following people:

Name­­­ – email address
Name – ­­­email address
Name­­­ – email address
Name – ­­­email address
Name­­­ – email address

Feel free to let them know that I sent you their way. Any of them would be a great fit for this opportunity and would do a great job.

Thanks again for reaching out to me and I hope you’ll keep me in mind for future opportunities.

Your name here

It’s a simple as that.

2. Follow up with everyone you meet

People who have been following along for awhile might be tired of hearing this, but I will keep bringing this up because it has never stopped working.

Every time you show up to a gig, you’re likely meeting people for the first time.

They’re all working musicians and all have their own networks and access to different kinds of gigs around that area.

The problem is that it’s difficult to remember everyone you meet on a gig.

This is why following up is so important.

Keeping in touch with these people is massively important to continue growing your music career.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or someone who has been playing for 30yrs.

There are always new folks to meet and unless you proactively follow up with people after meeting them, you’re missing out on future opportunities.

It’s nothing personal, but people will forget about you.

The good news is that you can stand out in people’s minds by following up with everyone after you meet.

Just about everyone is on Facebook, LinkedIn, or some other social network, but you can also just shoot over a quick email to them.

Almost nobody does this so it will immediately make you stand out in their minds.

Here’s another script you can copy and paste after meeting someone new:

Hi person that hired you,

I just wanted to send a quick note thanking you for inviting me to perform at whatever the gig was.

If you ever find yourself needing another your instrument, I would love the opportunity to come back and play again.

Thanks again for the opportunity and I hope we have the pleasure of working together again soon.

Your name here

Do this after every gig and your network and pool of potential opportunities will continue to grow.

3. Be Someone That People Actually Want to Work With

Some of these items might sound stupidly obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people mess them up.

If you’re the kind of person that a contractor feels confident hiring and that everyone else wants to work with, you’re going to do just fine in the freelance world.

The ability to perform well isn’t even the most important thing when it comes to getting hired.

I know, it’s annoying to think that other people get hired who might not be as “good” as you, but it’s true.

Here are few things you can do that will make a positive impression on your peers:

  • Show up on time
  • Have your part prepared
  • Be friendly with you colleagues
  • Offer to carpool with people who might need a ride
  • Dress appropriately

These might seem obvious, but they’re easier to mess up than you might think.

When you do all of this stuff right, you’ll be the person others want to call because they know they can trust you to be professional.

Any one of these seemingly insignificant things could be the difference of never getting called again or becoming their go-to player.

You just have to be the type of person that people actually want to work with.

If you do all of these things on every gig you do in the coming weeks, months, or even years, you will start to see your pool of opportunities and your career grow.