Networking For The Guitar Player

Networking For The Guitar Player

Networking For The Guitar Player

‘Most of my gigs have come from me just putting myself out there. It’s all about networking and the random people you meet. You never know when your paths will cross again and you’ll get an opportunity.’ – Tommy Kessler  – Guitarist for Blondie, Rock of Ages (The Musical) and Blue Man Group (New York based theater performance)

So you’ve been playing for a while now, practicing in your room, playing Animals As Leaders’ ‘Odessa’ to perfection, or Brittany Spears’ ‘Oops! I did it Again’ in front of the mirror and feel it’s time to get out there and play for real. But wait, you don’t know any musicians? This is where networking for the guitar player becomes an important asset to have when it comes to meeting potential band mates or, possibly even producers that might want to use your specific style in order to record the next hit song.

Where to start?

Many people get their interest in guitar from family members or a close friend that has played before or even just dabbled in an instrument. They might be a good person to ask when it comes to someone to play with. Certain people may even refer you to friends that they have played with before. This also depends, however, on your personal preference because if you are into acoustic campfire classics it may be easier to find a few people to play with than if you’re already shredding Slayer’s ‘Angel of Death’. Although, remember to not be too picky at first as you aren’t likely to meet a musical soul mate at the first jam session you have.

So keep an open-mind and remember that networking comes in all shapes and forms. It may be through an aunt, uncle or close friend that you meet the bass player or drummer of your dreams. This is not to be confused with social networking however, social networking websites dedicated to musicians, and specifically t0o guitarists, are also available. Personally though, I find this to be more for gear discussions and the like. If you feel it may work to find some musicians in your area, give it a try, just remember that networking works through relationships with people and often the cliché ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’, comes into play.

‘It’s not what you know but who you know’

Often I feel that this phrase is strongly misunderstood, as many musicians will think they should just create a website or Facebook page detailing videos of them eight-finger tapping Whitesnake solos, and bands, record labels and endorsement deals will come flocking. You may be disappointed to find personal friendship in the real world is a lot different to an online friendship, or acquaintance that you once spoke to on that drunken night at Hooters. People need to know who you are and what you can do, so show them.  Invite them to a gig, show them the Facebook page or give them your business card that could have links to all your professional websites and contact details.

Don’t hang around other guitar players too much

If you’re looking to get hired this might sound strange, but don’t hang around your own kind. Unless you’re looking to start an Eagles cover band, living by ‘birds of a feather flock together’ could potentially steal your job. Seek and befriend the ever so rare bass player or hang out with a keyboardist or drummer. On a personal note, I find this quite funny because throughout my musical education the guitarists at college seemed to stick together during their college years. What is the point of this? You’re more likely to get work from another instrumentalist than a guitarist so remember this when choosing those to network with.

It’s not completely unlikely, especially if there is a position for two guitarists in a band but in order to insure a gig it may be good to be the only guitar player around. However, due to the ever-increasing popularity of the guitar worldwide, it is not easy to be the only guitarist on the block, so convince people you are the best guitarist for what they are looking for. Take a long look at your skills beyond guitar and rather as a musician. You may be able to add value to a gig by writing the band’s charts, doing vocals, or playing another instrument. This should insure you have a gig, but here’s some things to keep in mind whilst you have it: be punctual, remember your parts and adapt to demanding arrangement changes or keys. As you can see, practice doesn’t end once you have a gig. It just begins.

Don’t force professional relationships. If it’s not working in a professional relationship in the creative industry, the chances are your product won’t be too good. So overall, be a nice guy or girl and go out there and meet people. Often you should find that by doing this you find great future friends in the music industry that create lifelong professional networks.

Profile photo of Paul Whitehead

*Completing a BMus (Hons) at COPA *Plays for “Layla Scar” and “Book of Thieves” *Is a beginners specialist *Knows the secret Pat Metheny chords *Plays in the Rhema Young Adults Band *Also plays keyboards *Can even play Jonas Brothers songs *Has completed a Higher Diploma in Guitar and Keyboards from The Academy of Contemporary Music in London

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