Being a musician is not easy, regardless of where you are located. The struggle is to be expected at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic.
Remember, music is a business and should be treated as such. Costs, target marketing, management meetings, venue relations – it all falls under the umbrella of becoming a successful musician. A particular acumen needs developing here, as a mind for enterprise can help the artistry flow.
However, nuances in how musician’s approach their craft may vary from place to place. For example, they may need to organically integrate themselves into a specific cultural moment, adhere to certain genres of music, or play their music in the proper settings to maximize their chances of success.
With all of this in mind, here are some things that Chicago musicians may need to fine-tune as they begin or develop their careers.
A Drive to Wow Venues
Big-name artists do not need to do much to wow venues, with their reputations often preceding them. However, for up-and-coming talents, a blend of sweet talking and strategy may be required.
First, you need to develop an awareness of where the musical hotspots in Chicago are, and what types of crowds they attract. For example, if you play blues music, the last thing you want to try and do is play a gig at a venue that is famed for showcasing rock and roll talent.
Second, you should prepare to impress. For prestigious local venues, you may need to audition for your spot, pitch the logistics of your show, and negotiate your time on stage. You may also need to collaborate on how your performance will be marketed, and whether you will be required to pose for any promotional stills.
Try to be as accommodating as possible, especially with the big-name venues. Some of them may have a reputation for helping today’s successful musicians get started. Each show could be a step toward significant success, so be someone who others will want to work alongside. Practice kindness, communication skills, and time management in the interests of making things work here too.
A Desire to Make Production Affordable
Musicians need a creative space to call home, and it might seem hard to find a quality Chicago rehearsal studio that fits your budget.
However, a cost-effective rehearsal studio in Chicago is always available to any musician that needs it, thanks to Pirate Studios. Work with this business, and you will have access to high-quality equipment and a variety of room types that suit every rehearsal need. They have a maximum capacity of 6 people too so that any bandmates can be accommodated without issue. Of course, you are welcome to request additional instruments too.
High caliber musicians regularly emerge from Chicago, so it is understandable to approach this process assuming the worst. However, affordable options are available without sacrificing your sound quality, so utilize these opportunities at the earliest opportunity for optimum and cost-effective rehearsal sessions.
A Wanting to Belong
Some musicians prefer to be lone minstrels wandering from place to place, playing their tunes, and retreating into solitude. An approach such as this is highly inadvisable in Chicago.
Chicago has a long-celebrated music and cultural scene. Leaning into that is the best way to increase exposure to your music, build connections and establish support. In May, some Chicago artists created a compilation album to benefit out-of-work performers and staff, for example. There is a community of caring at the heart of everything here. To distance yourself from it in any capacity is a disservice to yourself and to your art.
Touching experiences such as this may influence your music, too. After all, there have been many songs about broken hearts and destructive relationships. While you can write about such matters, putting music to themes of belonging, kindness, and camaraderie may well resonate just fine in Chicago. Of course, good music is good music, but it is worth tapping into the giving energy that Chicago inherently has.
An Appreciation of History
Though you may be prepared to infuse your music with influences from present-day Chicago, there is plenty of history to draw on too. Musicians who respect that past may be more likely to resonate with their audiences and layer their music more richly.
Remember, Chicago has a particularly poignant history with blues music, so performing something related could be prudent. In addition, most of your audience members at any live show will be familiar with the genre. Even if you do not play blues specifically, a few complimentary remarks between tunes may be enough to highlight that you know your stuff and are part of the city.
You can also draw inspiration from historical events that transpired in Chicago or muster creative energies from the captivating scenery all around. Referring to familiar places and people in your music may establish common ground between you and the audience and create a more intimate show for them to enjoy. If you know them, they will know you.