I just made that switch from being a 9-5 daily average Joe to playing over 70 college shows all over the country in 3-4 months this spring. Before you say WOW, let me interject by saying it is by far the most work I’ve done in a while. However, it most times doesn’t feel like work because music is who I am and what I love to do. I get to connect with a different audience every night, one melody at a time, and it is very rewarding. Before I expand on this topic, I’d like to say that I get to do on a daily basis what a lot of musicians aspire to, which is travel, play music and make a living doing it. I’ve been blessed by the almighty God, and I choose to use the voice He has given me to spread a message of love, hope and life to all I come in contact with.
My responsibilities on the road are simple. Arrive at the venue on time and try not to get lost. It pretty much is a different city everyday, and that entails tons of hours on the computer planning efficient and cost effective travel routes. I primarily play colleges which means lots of back and forth dialogue between my manager, the schools, and myself. We also have to coordinate lodging and luckily for me now, I only have to worry about my lodging. In the beginning of my tour, I’d travel with my percussionist, but I’ve found it to be more cost effective to hire musicians on the road, and travel solo. Schools usually provide the lodging, but there are the occasional few where you have to shell out the cash for a warm bed. Once all the travel/lodging plans are made, it’s time to travel. Mostly by road, and occasionally by air, the travel can be the most relaxing or taxing part of your day. Sometimes the drive or flight is short and most times it’s long, and miserable. It is what it is, and no complaints from me.
Rest is important to not wear your body/voice out. There’s nothing worse than performing tired, as your body and mind will not cooperate if not well rested. For me, there is my routine of proper diet, exercise, and rest as best as I can as my body/voice is now my brand, and I have to take care of it lest it fails me. One thing I also try to do as much as I can is do something fun in the different cities when I can. Going to the movie theater, hanging out at the park, checking the local music scene are some of the stress relieving things I do.
When it’s show time, I knock out the by now familiar set list, collect emails, inform people about how to stay in touch with the music, give out melodiously sweaty hugs, and try to temper my excitement to save my voice and body for the next days show. I have a facebook fan page that I constantly tell people about before, during, and after the show, and I find this to be better and more interactive than say an email list.I still however collect emails occasionally if the school I’m performing at is close to home base which is Baltimore Md. This way I’ll inform them of local shows too.
The best way I’ve found to get people to buy into what you do, is to buy into what they do. Be personable and talk to people before, during and after the show. What makes them laugh, what makes them cry? Hang out with your fans and let them see that real and human extension of you the musician. This way you make a connection and possibly a friend for life. I don’t force people into buying merchandise, I just urge them to come to the merch table and we just talk. I was never a sales person, and if 1hr of singing doesn’t sell you on the music, it’s okay. My music is not everyone’s cup of tea. If they don’t buy something it’s okay (they might not have the money), but by talking and taking an honest interest in them, you might get a fan for life. That’s worth much more than 10 bucks for a cd. My best advice based on my limited experience as a musician for building a connection with your fans is to be honest with your music. Don’t try to be something you are not because people will see through that.
In closing, I will say that the long drives have improved my air guitar and drum playing skills. I’ll set the car to cruise control and then wail away partly because I’m trying to stay awake, and partly because I have illusions of grandeur lol. I love what I do because I get to have daily positive effects on people’s lives. I help shape fertile but developing young mind of today with positive music and a positive message. The message is that God has given each one of us a voice, and we should use our voices to bless another. Keep making good music the soundtrack to your life.
Life is good, music is great, and God is the greatest. Life on the road has been AMAZING! Meeting and connecting with new people everyday is so uplifting. Great show today at Texas state san marcos, and I had the opportunity to touch lives the way I’d always dreamed and hoped I would. Met a lady today who was down in the dumps and out of it. She had just survived a fatal crash and was lucky to come out of it with just bumps and bruises. She said hearing the music out in the open brought some clarity to her life and it made her feel so much better. Music is the pill God has given us to make the joys of life sweeter and pains of life easier to bear.
I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some really amazing people so far in this “Secrets to a happy life tour”, and I want to thanks everyone that has made it successful so far. I promise to keep making good music and blessing people’s lives and in return, the crowd will echo their appreciation for the honesty in the music.
Mosno and I are on our way to Boston as I type this blog in the airport. More and more adventures to be had, and I can’t wait. Till we swoon again, please make good music the soundtrack to your life.
Nelson aka robin hood of trouble makers