File Under: Marketing Your Music, Booking and Performing Live

One of the most effective ways to get your music heard and to boost your "music resume" is to find alternative venues where you and your music can stand out. We inadvertently discovered this idea with our own band when some of our friends who had graduated from Second City's improv training program asked if we'd handle the music for their latest comedy show's production. In this article, we're going to share four alternative ideas you too can explore for you and your music.

Although our band usually played out at local bars and venues, years back we were asked by some of our improv acting friends if we'd be the "Saturday Night Live" backing band for their sketch comedy show. Getting a show approved for a stage at Second City is difficult since many comedy troupes are all vying to get their shows on stage. They thought having a live band would increase their chances of Second City approving their show over other troupes since it was unique. As musicians, we were intrigued to help since it meant we'd have to compose and perform all music for the show -- during the sketches, between the sketches, and in the middle where we played one of our original songs.

Sure enough, adding us as a live band made their application distinctive and they got the gig: a six week run. The show was a big success for them and a creative win for us. Plus, we were able to include playing a show at Second City as one of our accomplishments, which got us further gigs and interest in the future.

This kind of unique boost may be available to you as well. Sometimes it's just about realizing these type of alternative venues exist. Here are four additional ideas on boosting your music career through stage and acting work:

1. Go for musician casting calls.

You're a musician. But guess what? TV shows, films, and more often need musicians to fill acting and background acting roles -- including having actual musicians play in productions. Services like Backstage and Actors Access compile and put out listings for casting calls in your town (for a fee). It may be another way to expand your career. Plus, taking part in these calls can help you make connections, build out your background, and can even help you make extra income.

2. Become a Music Director.

A music director is in charge of all of the music for a show. In music-heavy productions the music director can act as the right-hand of the director. It's more work than simply providing music since you'll be responsible for all of the music needs of a production, but getting a job like this can help you build your overall career. You'll need to find the center of theater activity in your town to get hooked up with these gigs, but note if you research and attend actor networking events, you can stand out from the crowd since you'll likely be one of the few musicians in the room. This can help you make connections and get opportunities in this field.

3. Create music for theater and other stage productions.

There are theater and stage shows going on in cities every night. While many directors use popular recorded music, some don't. But that doesn't mean you can't create original music for their shows. Networking and connecting with directors, writers, and theater companies can lead to new opportunities and outlets for your music.

For instance, after we wrapped up our Second City show, we ended up working with another actor who was part of the first show. He was writing his own sci-fi themed sketch show, but instead of wanting us to perform live, he asked if we could write and record original music for each sketch. For this project, we went into songwriting and recording mode like we were making an album. The final result was a mix of short instrumentals and songs the sound engineer was able to trigger at each show. This gave us yet another stage credit, as well as more songs to release to our fans. Also, it made us eligible to receive royalties for each stage show.

Plus, one of the actors in this show went on to create an original TV show. He contacted us and asked if we could compose original music for his weekly series. We did and that eventually led to our music being broadcasted to over 26 million homes around the country. So keep in mind, one opportunity can lead to others, especially in the theater space.

4. Become a session player or pit musician.

Some stage productions still use pit orchestras and bands. These are great gig opportunities for musicians. Do some research on the productions in your area and find the nexus of theater activity in your town. Connect and network with music directors and where they list openings for these productions and musician casting calls.

Networking and connecting with other creative people who are creating and running their own productions and projects can open up opportunities not only for your music, but also your career as a musician. Stay in touch with all your contacts since actors, directors, and music directors can find themselves going from stage to screen, other opportunities to get your music in TV, commercials, or film can open up as well. Also, make sure to use the publicity and attention they get to build your own career. Their PR is your PR, and each time a show comes out that uses some of your music, that should be a great chance to get more media attention for yourself and your music.

Challenge: Reach out to your local theater community and see if there are opportunities that fit your talents and your music.


#PR #theater #film

Photo credit: Bahman Farzad