Jan 08



To make a living as a gigging musician, I don’t need to be the most talented musician in my town, I need to be the best. I’m not the best by playing the best guitar solo, or being the hottest sax player, or being the most amazing vocalist. I’m the best by PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAILS.

Don´t get me wrong, working on technique and musicianship, and improving on your instrument is all part of PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAILS. But to have a product that is employable consistently, is far more than musicianship.

If you have been following my blog you will have noticed that this is a subject I think about a lot. So today I would like to make a list of things/details that are the makings of an employable gigging musician/entertainer.


Let your customer down once, That is you marked as unreliable. Bad news spreads fast.


I commented about this in the post BEING LATE IS JUST RUDE.

Patrick Blog Pics Small Watch


Even if you are gigging in a pub, it is important to have clean and nicely ironed pair of jeans and t-shirt. Avoid football (soccer ) shirts, that could alienate you from supporters of another team. Hotels more elegant. Polished shoes.


Your repertoire needs to be large enough and varied enough to make you flexible. The more flexible you are, the more employable you are. Know your audience, and learn repertoire accordingly. Don´t learn and play repertoire you like, but what will work with the audience. I write about repertoire in YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR REPERTOIRE. Add new repertoire weekly. This keeps you fresh with your regular audiences, as well as bar staff and bosses. Regular new repertoire is probably the most important thing for keeping the shelf life of the gig. Get this right, and you will work at the same venue for years.


The average audience wants to be entertained. Perfect and clinical musical performance will not necessarily do the job. The venue is more likely to hire the guy that does a bit of comedy between songs. Find something that is YOU, and entertaining. Maybe little quizes between songs. Name the tune, or artist. In the hotels I have a little gag. “For a free shot at the all inclusive bar……name this tune.” Or how about using loops to create a song, and explain to your audience that you are painting a picture with sound.  Or how about a collection of funny hats that you change for every song. Its all about connecting with your audience. Read more in the post STAGE CRAFT 101. The point is take the time to work on and develop something that makes you different to the others.


The gig starts when you walk in the door. “GOOD EVENING EVERYBODY” Take time to great bar staff and bosses as you arrive. It just shows respect to your fellow workers.Take time to get to know the customers, and remember names if possible. Check out the post KEEP YOUR COOL AND KEEP THE GIG.


Any professional athlete would exercise daily. So any professional musician needs to rehearse daily. More on rehearsal in the next few weeks.


INVEST IN THE GIG. I’m a big fan of the Bose sound systems. In 30 years of doing gigs I haven’t heard a sound system that comes even close in quality. Read why in the post 10 REASONS WHY THE BOSE COMPACT L! IS THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD. Also IT PAYS TO USE THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB.

Patrick Blog Pics Mixer

9) Marketing

I deal with this subject in the posts COLD CALLING MARKETING FOR MUSICIANS and WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING FOR MUSICIANS. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, if you cannot market yourself you have nothing.


NO PLAY NO PAY. Taking care of your health is extremely important in PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAILS. Enough exercise, and enough rest. For me the best part of the Spanish culture is the SIESTA. I religiously have a siesta before a gig.I really struggle with the exercise bit. The little details of taking care of yourself really help with your mental health and positive attitude to your gig. MORE TO COME IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS ON MUSICAL HEALTH.



Being a SUCCESSFUL GIGGING MUSICIAN, is not about art, but rather about BEING SERIOUS ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS. It helps to have a motivation and drive. My motivation is to feed and clothe a wife and 2 children. My responsibility is to earn the money, and the wife’s responsibility is to spend it.


I WANT TO BE A LITTLE BETTER TODAY THAN I WAS YESTERDAY. Even if I didn’t get around to learning a new tune today, but went to the hardware store to get a part for equipment maintenance, I did something positive about improving the business. If I’m constantly aware of PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAILS. it means I’m constantly improving and growing, and keeping a positive attitude towards my work.




  1. Lady Saxophonist

    I agree with everything you said.
    You always write a great Blog.
    Always informative and educational.

  2. Charley Langer

    Hey Patrick!

    Nice post. Can I second the recommendation for the Bose L1? I just don’t think there is a better small system for the price. I often play in small combos at small to medium venues (wineries, etc.) and it’s light, small, easy to set up, very few connections, sounds awesome, has programmable effects at your fingertips, eliminates need for monitors, allows you to hear what your audience hears…what is not to like?! And, while it can “play nicely” at low volumes, it can get pretty darn loud if you need it to. Here are a few vid clips of me using the L1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2BbjNFEol8

    I appreciate your practical approach to saxophone, music, and gigging. As I get to know you, it seems like we think similarly about a lot of things.

  3. saxaxeman@gmail.com

    Hi Charley. Thanks for the nice words. I have yet to meet somebody who owns a Bose system that doesn’t think it is AWESOME.

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