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#1320854 - 12/08/09 03:38 AM How to find jazz gigs?
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
What's the best way to find jazz gigs? I'm talking more the cocktail piano, solo lounge types.

I've started cold calling restaurants, bars, seniors homes. The fancy hotels where I live all go through an agency so I may look into trying to sign up for one.

I think most of the work is marketing and promoting yourself, getting demos and a website up and talking to people.

I have a friend who plays in a trio, he's had good success with putting his website at the top of search engines. He gets calls to do corporate events, weddings etc...

Any advice on what you've found to be most effective would be appreciated!

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#1320916 - 12/08/09 08:23 AM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
You've got it. Call everywhere, and keep calling until you reach the person who books the music. Have a good demo cd and business cards.

When I lived in NY City I got depressed after being there for 5 months without gigs. So I started a systematic search of the city with my bicycle. I looked in every restaurant I came to to see if they had a piano. When I found a piano I took note. If it was close to home, I would already be dressed sharp (even though I was on bicycle). Otherwise, I would come back later, dressed sharp, and ask in person. I got some nice gigs that way, and it led to other gigs.

The hardest part for me is NOT taking it personally when they don't return calls. They don't. You have to keep calling. When you make a call, mark it in your calendar. Then mark your calendar a week in the future to remind you to call again.

#1320970 - 12/08/09 10:25 AM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: wavelength]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457
I agree with wavelength about not taking things personally.. I met people who weren't very good at all and they were getting a lot more gigs and I did, and I realized that your ability to play and your ability to get gigs are two different things.

A lot of people won't call you for gigs because they don't know you well enough, and a lot of times it doesn't matter how well you play.

Other than that it's good to network and find ways to play with people even if you are not getting money at first. You never know who will call you for gigs.

It's also important to know what kind of gigs you want to specialize in and practice according to that. Playing for a top 40 band and playing backup for a jazz singer requires very different skills&experience.

You don't need to be a great soloist in order to play casual gigs, you just need to know the right things. In most cases it's more important that you can play chords to "rout 66" or "fly me to the moon" in singer's key than to be able to play "Satellite" in 7 at fast tempo.

#1320983 - 12/08/09 10:37 AM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: etcetra]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457
Btw you can also get gigs if you can multi-task.. like comping with RH and playing walking bass line with the LH. If you can do that for like 250 tunes that singers do, you can probably get a lot of gigs. And you don't have to be a good soloist.

Some people will even use drum track on the keyboard instead of an actual drummer.. so you can litearlly be a one man band backing up a singer...but I personally won't find playing key-bass behind a singer 5 nights a week a musically rewarding experience though..

I also want to add that having a good sense of time is absolutely essential.. A person who can only play simple voicing but plays them in time is far more likely to get gigs than someone who can play all the neat voicings but can't play in time very well...

in my opinion time one of the big thing that separates a lounge/cocktail pianist from the 'real thing'.. most of the greats have solid time even when they are playing alone and doing all sorts complicated stuff... that's really really difficult and for most people it takes years to develop that kind of solid time.

Edited by etcetra (12/08/09 10:40 AM)

#1320992 - 12/08/09 11:05 AM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: etcetra]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Goods and services, it's all about sales. Keyboardists have a real advantage, especially with the latest technology and the vast assortment of keyboards/VI.

A good keyboard player can work alone, duo, trio or big band. Take along your Mac/PC laptop and run the whole show yourself. A bass player, trumpet, sax player can't do a solo gig alone, but a keyboard player can clean up/

It's all about marketing and letting know the community you are available for work. Senior centers, Chamber of Commerce mixers, corporate events, city functions, it's all out there, but it takes a part of the day looking for potential gigs. Unfortunately, many keyboard players are good at the music but lousy at the business skills and sales.

I have gotten many gigs from craigslist and met new musicians too. It's all a network. If I have anymore ideas, I will post them.


#1368843 - 02/08/10 06:06 PM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Redhead1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 156
Originally Posted By: nitekatt2008z

It's all about marketing and letting know the community you are available for work. Senior centers, Chamber of Commerce mixers, corporate events, city functions, it's all out there, but it takes a part of the day looking for potential gigs. Unfortunately, many keyboard players are good at the music but lousy at the business[/b] skills and sales.

I have gotten many gigs from craigslist and met new musicians too. It's all a network. If I have anymore ideas, I will post them.


If you could elaborate more on all this, I would love. I need some marketing tips!

Can you give some examples of keyboardists being lousy at the business and sales skills? What does that look like -- so that I know what [b]not to do?


#1368857 - 02/08/10 06:23 PM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: Redhead1]
custard apple Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2313
Loc: Sydney
I come from Corporate and imo you will really stand out from the rest if you have a Strategic Plan/ Business Plan. It doesn't have to be long but it will set out your goals and how you can partner with me to help me achieve mine.

#1369156 - 02/09/10 01:14 AM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: custard apple]
JazzPianoEducator Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/09
Posts: 203
Loc: Denver, CO
I'd also recommend keeping an eye on craigslist. You can post your own ads in there for free but better yet keep an eye on the Gigs section. Depending on where you live, there are a lot that can some up and if you are first to respond and have a good press package you can more likely get the gig.


#1369624 - 02/09/10 04:29 PM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: JazzPianoEducator]
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 798
Loc: Northern, Northern California
I've been surprised at the number of gigs that have come from my band's web site.

For us, most gigs come from other gigs. That is, you play somewhere, and someone hears you and wants to book you. So always have your cards, which refer to your web site, on hand.
- Al

My Book: Becoming a Great Sight-Reader -- or Not!
My Blog: The Year of Piano Sight-Reading

#1370183 - 02/10/10 12:45 PM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: TromboneAl]
dpvjazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 287
Loc: phoenix az
Charles Ives

Born: 1874 Died: 1954

Born in Danbury, Connecticut on 20 October 1874, Charles Ives pursued what is perhaps one of the most extraordinary and paradoxical careers in American music history. Businessman by day and composer by night, Ives's vast output has gradually brought him recognition as the most original and significant American composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, Ives sought a highly personalized musical expression through the most innovative and radical technical means possible. A fascination with bi-tonal forms, polyrhythms, and quotation was nurtured by his father who Ives would later acknowledge as the primary creative influence on his musical style. Studies at Yale with Horatio Parker guided an expert control overlarge-scale forms.
Check this guy out. He is one of the reasons I took the path I am on.

I own the restuarant where I play and I book the musicians. I would take business and accounting in school, start your own business to make money to pay bills and eat. Then play and learn music with your free time for the rest of your life. I am doing this and just loving it.

#1370238 - 02/10/10 02:07 PM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: dpvjazz]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Hi Wizard. I wrote an article on this for New Age piano. Equally applicable for Jazz piano. Find it at http://www.scribd.com/doc/23861062/How-to-Get-New-Age-Piano-Gigs
Play New Age Piano

#1370408 - 02/10/10 05:11 PM Re: How to find jazz gigs? [Re: eweiss]
DaveRobertsJazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 99
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I wrote an article on this for New Age piano.

Great article, thanks.


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