Today’s post is the second installment of a 5-day series where 5 different full-time artist share what it looks like to pursue music for a living. Today’s contributor is Washington, DC-based artist, Justin Trawick. His words are insightful and they’ll probably be a kick in the pants for all of us who’ve been sitting on our couches wondering why our music isnt going anywhere.
My average day as a full time singer/songwriter…well…you mean besides sleeping till 3pm every day and watching everything I DVR’d on TV from the night before? It’s actually a pretty big mix of a lot of things. If I’m at home (as in not on the road on tour) then I leave my house and go to my “office”. No, I do not actually own office space, my “office” is my code for Starbucks. (By the way, the trick to Starbucks if you’re poor is to buy a cup of coffee and then bring that cup back for the next three days and just get the 53 cent refills…you’re welcome…)
“For every four minute song I play on stage, four hours is spent by me behind a screen or on the phone…”
I go to the “office” because I can’t get work done in my apartment…it’s too distracting. At the “office” I sit down with my laptop and open up gmail, facebook, twitter, ArtistData, and MySpace (borderline useless). I’ll update my mailing list and respond to any emails that are pending. I then spend a lot of time working on my tour schedule and booking upcoming shows. Tours are routed by getting an anchor date, a show that is a really great booking…Bluebird Cafe…IOTA…Hotel Cafe…Rockwood Music Hall. Then I book dates around it. I’m usually booking ahead by at least two months which is the only way to get shows and dates that I want. Booking is also one of those things that is governed by momentum…you have to stay on top of it and constantly be on top of your schedule or you’ll suddenly have week or two week holes in your schedule (this is ok unless gigs are how you pay your rent).
Part of my booking work revolves around researching and contacting bigger touring bands and the venues they’re playing and trying to get opening spots for these acts. I’ve had a fair amount of success over the past few years opening for big name acts, which has really helped me get a lot of exposure. Just two days ago I opened for the Crash Test Dummies at the Sellersville Theater in PA. The show was sold out with over 300 people and I made a lot of new fans that night who bought my cd’s, signed up for my mailing list, and took home my promo cards. I made an effort to talk to literally almost every person that night thanking them personally for listening to my music.
When I’m on tour and not in my office I’m basically doing everything I already said before…from my iPhone. This interview, in fact, is being written on my iPhone at 3:30am in Garfield NJ after my 9pm show at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC. Also, before my show I met with a potential manager for a three hour lunch meeting in SoHo who is interested in signing me to his roster. Before that I was on the phone with a photographer and had email conversations going with two different lawyers.
None of what I’m writing here should be taken in the sense that “people are beating down my door”. It’s much more likely that I am in fact “beating down the door” of others. If you want it badly enough that’s what you have to do. For every four minute song I play on stage, four hours is spent by me behind a screen or on the phone nursing a cup of Starbucks coffee that is slowly falling apart…
If you like what you’ve read, tell someone…