Getting ready to leave the country when you only have three weeks to get sorted is no joke!
The last week or so we have been working incredibly hard to get everything straight so we can fly out to Madeira on the 25th of March.
I say we, I’ve been doing a lot of paperwork and Mr P has reacted the way he usually does when we have a lot to do on a tight schedule... ebay has seen a lot of action over the past few days!
But I think we’re slowly getting there. The worst part of all of this has been cancelling gigs that we already had in our diary. When your job is entertaining people the last thing you want to do is let them down. Luckily most people have been very understanding, while they’re disappointed they also understand that we need to think about our future and we can’t turn down this opportunity.
Unfortunately not everyone reacts in this way. One agent in particular was very rude to me when I rang them (never mind I was giving them plenty of notice of cancellation...). Apparently I should just be grateful that this particular agent had managed to find me a whole two gigs in the space of a year and had only charged me a 20% commission for the privilege (!). There are a lot of people out there willing to take the mick, luckily experience is starting to teach us who to trust.
I’m very excited to have this opportunity to take the thing I love and turn it into a viable career. It’s a chance that not many people get and I know how lucky I am. We’ve worked extremely hard for this opportunity grabbing at every chance we’ve had. We’ve taken on work that’s cost us money, we’ve travelled for miles to perform in strange little places and we’ve put our all into every single gig whether we’ve played to 20 or 200 people.
I would never pretend to really know what I’m doing and there has been a lot of luck in trying to make something like this work but I do have a few tips for anybody trying to do their own thing whether it’s music or anything else.
#1 Stay Professional
That means smiling, talking to everybody, no swearing, be on time, no drinking (unless it’s offered – then no going over the top). Always remember that you are representing yourself and your reputation. A good reputation is hard to come by and insanely easy to lose, don’t underestimate how important it is. Just because you have no boss to answer to doesn’t mean you can behave however you want.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, whether you’re in a top class theatre or playing in a pub to 5 people, every person in the audience deserves a good show. You never ever know who’s watching.
#3 Greet everybody with a smile and a handshake... and be sure to say goodbye
This is something I learnt from my Mr P. When we were first together I admit it drove me insane (and still often does!), every time we tried to leave a venue it always took him at least half an hour. But over time I have learnt how important this gesture is. I’ve often complained about how musicians (particularly men) often ignore me in favour of Mr P. Greeting everybody with a handshake and a smile is a fantastic way to break the ice and make a brilliant first impression. This simple gesture can do you a lot of good.
#4 Be prepared to do a lot of hours.
Doing anything off your own back is always hard. It takes a lot of work and there is no one to delegate to. It’s not 9 till 5 hours. It will be on your mind constantly, you’ll dream about it, weekends will cease to have any meaning, holidays will only be times when you could be working. But, if you’re lucky, it’ll all turn into something good.
#5 Grab every opportunity.
Someone needs a keyboard player and you can only play campdown races? Agree to do it... There’s an open mic night and someone doesn’t really know the song? Get up and steal the mic off them... Everything is an experience and everything will help you on your way. If you feel self conscious or nervous then get over it... that may sound harsh but you don’t get anywhere by shaking on the sidelines. My first ever big gig as Connie Francis I agreed to do with only 5 days notice, I only knew half the songs, I didn’t have a dress and I had to buy a wig on my way to the theatre. It was terrifying, my wig almost fell off and the first song I sang was with mostly nonsense words... but I did it. After that performing as Connie didn’t feel so scary any more. Agree to do anything, you’re never going to get anywhere sat at home.
Finally... remember that it’s worth it.
That’s what I’m telling myself as I try to figure out how I’m going to pack everything up, sort all the paperwork and learn a silly amount of songs in the space of less than three weeks...
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