Booking performances in a pandemic

One of my recent clients — an accomplished and motivated musician I’ll call Tom — emailed me last week with some good news. He’d just booked an online concert with a “dream” presenter. WHAT? Musicians are booking performances in a pandemic? Yep, and it’s a great example of what I call the hidden opportunities of NOW.

Tom had been feeling awkward about connecting with any concert presenters during the lockdown. He thought, What’s the point? Nobody’s booking anything and who knows when ‘normal’ performances will resume?

Tom might have left it at that and done nothing except remain in a negative self-talk loop. But he didn’t do that.

Tune into the story you’re telling yourself

Take a moment to check on the story you’re telling yourself. Does it sound anything like . . .

“I can’t do anything for my music career right now because . . .

  • There are no concerts
  • Nobody’s hiring musicians for anything
  • I’m powerless—I just have to ride this out.”

There’s a dirty word for this kind of thinking, this negative maze of discouragement and frustration. I call it being stuck in a “victim story.” You tell yourself you can’t do anything to move forward — that you’re a victim of circumstances, as opposed to the hero of your own journey.

Feeling powerless is a great excuse NOT to do the work needed to advance your music career.

Beware of the Victim Mindset

Just because there are no live concerts going on — and most employers aren’t hiring — doesn’t mean you can’t move forward in your career.

Over the past weeks of lockdown many have fallen into the maze of overwhelm, fear, and frustration (for me, many more times than I’d like to admit).

And now, with no “go back to normal” date on the horizon, more and more musicians are spending longer stretches alone in the maze.

Not good. When you’re caught in the maze of the victim mindset, it’s too easy to feel like it’s pointless to . . .

  • reconnect with colleagues and presenter contacts
  • upgrade your promotional materials
  • devote time and energy to your projects
  • invest in your future career.

But the truth is . . .

Presenters are looking for creative ways to engage their audiences and donors

That’s the hidden opportunity.

Think what YOU might be able to provide. What remarkable interactive programming you could create.

But let me be clear. I’m NOT saying start sending out aggressive generic pitches to a huge list of presenters. PLEASE DON’T DO THAT.

Instead, you’ll need to sleuth out the right presenters for what you have in mind and for where you are in your career development.

So what about Tom?

Tom wasn’t going to “waste a good crisis”

Tom wanted to reach out to presenters but of course, wanted to find a way to do this that was appropriate to the situation.

The presenter in question was actually one he’d sent many email pitches to over the years and had never gotten ANY response from.

Then why did Tom reach out now?

Because he’d been noticing some cultural centers and concert series making live quarantine performances available as free online broadcasts to their audiences. He found that this presenter had also started offering online concerts.

So Tom wrote and congratulated the presenter on taking this leap and getting their series online. He then introduced himself and said he had an interactive program that could easily be adapted for online concerts. He also mentioned the size of his social media following (it’s impressive) and included a screen shot with his Fan page reach stats.

The presenter got back to him right away and two days later Tom had booked the performance.

The moral: focus on what presenters care about right now — engagement and reach.

The challenge is to see things from the presenter’s point of view and to speak directly to her or his concerns. It’s in that space of empathy where you, too, may find hidden opportunities that allow you to book an online performance in a pandemic.

That space is also where many musicians need help.

With clients, I help them hone their programming, email pitches, promo materials, and their list of targeted presenters. That way, they can send effective, tailored messages to the right prospects — and get better results.

Booking performances in a pandemic . . .

Takes extra creativity. To start, brainstorm what you can offer that will meet presenters’ current needs.

Think what you could provide online that would give audiences a sense of real connection — with you, with the music, and with each other.

Review the content you have, the projects that could be previewed and performed in a live online format.

And especially, think of the ways you might, in an online performance situation, invite the audience to interact. I’m talking about MORE than simply inviting them to comment or ask questions in the feed.

Why? Because we’re all craving that sense of togetherness. We’re missing out on being seen, being heard, and feeling connected with others.

If you’ve got a question about working with me in my small group coaching program (that’s what Tom did) check here.

And join the weekly FB Live follow up discussion: Tuesdays at 12 noon ET. We’d love to have you: just click HERE to request to join the MusiciansMakingIt FB Group and we’ll get you set up!

We’re all in this together,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

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