The Chronicles of Me

Be sure to check out the RNAMusic YouTube channel and the posts by Alpheus in some of the Chapman Guitars threads. He runs that kind of shop, along with his wife, and you can get a lot of perspective just from what he has posted publicly. He has given me some very helpful answers to PMs, but please do not flood him with messages.
Thanks, I have seen lots of Ryan's videos etc.

Go for it! Something can always be learned from those situations, so by all means share how you get one :)
If I get seriously into it, then I will. In fact, this weekend I'm visiting a music shop to talk about things but due to family circumstances the idea is unlikely to get off the ground in the near future. There's no harm in doing a little digging around for information, though.
 
I've got more than 3 pages of questions to ask the poor guy, he doesn't know what's going to hit him! :D But for the foreseeable future it's the current day job that will carry on paying the bills.

Anyway, we're going off topic - this is Sam's thread, not mine, and his story is far more interesting!
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
I just wanted to throw this little piece of advice out there, and I've just had this experience and feel it's relevant for the thread.

With my transcription/arrangement 'business' I've been emailing some conductors and arrangers via my 'business' email. They were all formal emails inquiring about work and what not - no response.

I just took as different approach. I emailed some different arrangers via my personal email asking for advice instead of work.

Within 3 minutes I got a reply from one guy, and were setting up a meeting in a few weeks.

I think this is called the 'Benjamin Franklin' way of networking. Apparently Mr. Franklin found out that if you ask people for favors it makes them more connected to you - apparently psychology behind it all is that if someone asks you for a small favor and you do it you brain tells you 'Well, you just did a favor for this person so we must like them, right?'

Sounds weird, but you'll be surprised.

Just wanted to throw that out there :D
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
... I now have a phone call meeting with a different arranger this weekend, and have been asked to send some portfolio pieces to another arranger.

This is a far better tactic that what ever I was doing before. Being personable and realistic, rather than trying to act like a big company is going a long way.
 

Alpheus

RNA MUSIC OWNER
I've got more than 3 pages of questions to ask the poor guy, he doesn't know what's going to hit him! :D But for the foreseeable future it's the current day job that will carry on paying the bills.

Anyway, we're going off topic - this is Sam's thread, not mine, and his story is far more interesting!


haha. I only know so much info. But if I can do it anyone can. probably.
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
Busy, and Not Much to Show for it
Holy smokes, it's been a while! I've long over due an update on this one. Looking back the last update, it was towards the end of the Blue Man Group... let's pick up from there:
So my internship ended with the Blue Man Group, and I was kind of glad to get out of there. Not that it was horrible, I had just had enough of it. Some cool people, some not so cool, but over all a fine experience that I can put on my resume. One good thing to come out of the internship was a sound gig. One day Matt, the head engineer just said 'email this person your resume. It's about a sound gig.' I literally didn't know who I was emailing, or really, about what - but I gave it a shot.

A few weeks rolled by and I kind of forgot about the email, but it comes back later in the story. So for the sake of keeping this in order lets come back to that.
Also in my last weeks at the Blue Man Group I managed to sit in on the Broadway show 'If/Then', with guitarist Alec Berlin. It was more of the same when it comes to sitting-in - you all know the drill by now! It was nice to see that I'm starting to become a 'face' on the theatre scene. I already knew the other guitarist, Jim, and he recognised me, which was nice. It's kind of taken the pressure off of going into pits - I feel that I'm starting to give off more confidence to the musicians, as it's becoming less intimidating.
Alec was kind enough to give me the book and say he'd work me in as a sub - which is great! He seemed like a really nice, laid back guy, so I have no reason not to believe him. Also the book he gave me was a physical copy (most people just send .pdf's) and I offered to scan in the music for him into a digital format, which I think I got big brownie points for. Anyway, so I'm still learning the book and just waiting to go down to the show again.
So in the mean time I was pottering about, having just left the Blue Man Group and I get an email for a guitarist friend who wonders if I'm interested in doing a amateur theatre show in White Plain (a town 30/40minutes out of the city), so with time to kill and money to be earned, I say 'sure!'. The show was '13' and was for a small theatre, but paid me rather reasonably, so the extra travel time was totally worth it. Also it was a small pit, it was nice to network with the other musicians.

I did the show, it was fun, but then as a bonus, they had a different show running straight after - literally just a few days after, which they hired me for. So for one solid month I was a theatre musician! Which was awesome, and happy I did it - and that it came through a connection.
The shows ended, I was back at square one of thinking 'What now?' and I get an email for a guy called Josh. Josh said he was the sound engineer for a show called Queen of the Night and he had been passed my resume, and was in need of a sub. Turns out that email I sent off earlier in the story was sent to some fancy theatre producer and trickled my way down to Josh.

Josh basically just says 'if you're interested meet me at the theatre at 5pm and I'll show you the show' - at this point I still knew nothing of the show, or any of the details. So I just went along thinking 'what do I have to loose?'. Turns out the theatre is right in the heart of the theatre district and is literally across the street from the theatre in which 'If/Then' is playing. The theatre is unbelievably fancy and awesome all at the same time, plus the show is amazing. I talk to Josh for a little bit, and he says he's happy to take me on as a sub! So that's one gig in the bag! I did my training, and I'm called in a few times a month to run the show - not bad!
While all this is going on, the stage manager for the show 'Life on the Mississippi' (the off-Broadway show I did a while ago) posted something on facebook saying that she's in need of a sound engineer ASAP for another off-Broadway show.
To digress for a second, say what you like about facebook, but a lot of business is done over it. So make sure you stay in touch with the right people.
... anyway, so I answer her cry and get booked for the gig. It was a zombie musical that was planning to run for 4 weeks, and I can tell you it was total shite! I was such a bad show. Poor writing, acting - everything. I knew for a fact it wasn't going to run for 4 weeks, and lo and behold, it closed after 2 weeks. It was just a job, for me. I went, did the show, left got paid. That's it. But it was nice to at least still get paid for something creative, and maybe make some connections.
I just want to make a quick point here: people always say that in a job interview tell the absolute, unwavering, truth. For the most part I agree with this, put there is no harm in knowing your skills and 'bending the truth' to fit them. For example, when Josh was interviewing me he asked 'Had I run sound for a theatre show before?', the truth is no. I have never run sound for a theatre before. BUT I understand sound systems, I have seen a lot of people run sound before, as well as run recording sessions and live sounds. But no I have never run sound for a theatre show. What did I tell Josh - Yes, I have indeed run sound for a theatre show. I have read cues from a script, and run sound. Why did I say this? I had just seen Josh's set up for the show and knew for a fact I could run it.
I hate that you can loose an opportunity because you don't have the EXACT same experience as the job you're applying for. Turns out I was right to trust my skills, as when I got this off-Broadway sound gig, I was running sound and reading cues and I could absolutely do it. Same thing when I was asked 'Do you play banjo?' by a music director I said yes despite never having touched one. I went and bought one the next day and figured it out. It's the same principle as the guitar, and I'm a smart guy, so now I do play the banjo. Obviously use your best judgement, but sometimes you simply have to talk-the-talk before they will even let you attempt to walk-the-walk.
I'm hungry and my fingers are tired, so I'll do a 'part 2' to this update. Lots more to tell!
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
I have Returned!

I can't believe it's almost been a year since I updated this. Hopefully I'll be more regular with it from now on.

So to recap where I left off: I just finished working for the Blue Man Group and started subbing at the Queen of the Night theater as a sound engineer.

Basically until about last October (2014) all I was doing was networking and work at the theater. I had a lot of dates so that kept me a float while also subbing in for a friends cover band called 'Hello Brooklyn' (remember that).

My friend, called Anthony was the other guitarist for the show I did when I first came to NYC called 'Life on the Mississippi' was the guitarist for Hello Brooklyn. So it's nice to know that we made a solid connection and that he even called me to sub for him in the band! He called me out of the blue one day (I met him in 2012 and he called me in 2014) asking me to sub - I did a good job and he was happy to trust me after that, so I was doing a few gigs here and there.

Later in the year I also get an email out of the blue from a composer called Michael. He is good friends with someone that I worked with at the Blue Man Group, and he's looking for an assistant so my name was passed on. He asks me if I'm interested and of course I say yes and schedule an interview. We meet, get on well so he offers me the job! It's very low commitment - only a few days a week and I can work from home so I'm happy to jump in where I can.

Working for Michael was the first time in months that I'd had to answer to someone. I was so use to being left to my own devices, and doing things on my own it was weird to be an assistant again and running out to grab lunch for someone. To be honest I didn't like it... I hated going back to the 'intern' mind set of having to basically do bitch work for other people. I felt like before that I was on the right path with the sound engineer work at the theater, as I'm being trusted with a whole show and just me at the helm and then the next day doing coffee runs... it just felt like I was better than that; for lack of a better term. So this was at least a mental turning point of 'I think I've grow out of this'. But either way, it was cash , the work is still music related and he's still a valuable connection, so I stick it out.

Later on in December (2014) a friend who worked at ASCAP told me she was leaving her post there and that I should apply for her job - I was thrilled because I already had an in with her, and I knew I could do the job. I had three different interviews and felt like I nailed them all... so I was pretty confident I got the job.

While waiting to hear back on the job I took a trip back to England to visit some friends and family, and while I was over there I got the email saying that they went with someone else. I was totally bummed out, and it really put me down because I felt like I was such a good fit and it would have meant financial security and job security. But while in England I kept getting emails about musical work from other people... which kind of pissed me off, haha. I had nothing towards the end of the year, and I went to England in January because it's usually a dead time for musicians. But the second I leave everyone wants me, haha.

I had to turn most of it down, but one email I got from a music director about a show I thought I could manage - by the way I was recommended to a music director by one of the Broadway guys I'd met before called Andy (it's all about planting those little networking seeds). I told him I was in England, but I'd be happy to do it!

So, quite nicely, I now had my own off-Broadway theater show to play for when I flew home from England! This made me feel not do bad about not getting the ASCAP job, as if I would have gotten it I would have had to turn the theater show due to the 9-5 commitment. I think it worked out that I landed back in NYC on a Wednesday (in early January) and I started rehearsals for the show on that Friday, and was locked into the show until March 1st so I was solid for a least a couple of months!

To take a small detour: I got a personal email from one of the people I interviewed with at ASCAP saying that she would like to talk to me as a composer and see if there is anything that they can do for me on that front - which I was incredibly flattered about. So I go in and she says that I was indeed first pick for the job for two out of the three people that I interviewed with, but they didn't pick me because they could see how tenacious I was when it came to music... and they basically needed an office worker. So I felt strangely good about that. The fact that they could see potential greatness in another area of me, so they wanted to sit me down as a musician. I've been falling behind on keeping up with my ASCAP contact, but they are on my side now... which is odd. But it was a really blessing in disguise that I didn't get the job.

Anyway, the show was awesome, and called 'Pretty Filthy'. It was about the porn industry and was hilarious. It's the most professional show I've ever been a part of and the most well paid I've ever been as a musician - and we even got to record a cast album in a pro studio, which was a tonne of fun! I really felt like a true musician for the first time as I was being treated and paid like a real musician. Also the fact that it was MY show - I wasn't a sub, I was the guitarist and that makes a big difference. It also helps out when talking to the real Broadway dudes, saying that you have had your own show makes more of an impression.

Another small thing about the show was calling TV Jones. I knew the sound I wanted for the show, and I thought TV Jones could do me right. I call them and explain that the show is opening soon and I would love some of their pick-ups. It was nice to call with a reason, and not just say your a fan, or some jack-off sitting in his bedroom looking for free stuff. A few minutes later I'm getting some pick-ups sent to me at an artist's price. They are such nice guys, and we stay in touch. I hope it's the start of something bigger :)

But, as all good things must, the show came to an end... and I was back to square one. Getting all ready to be sulky and depressed, I book a load of dates at the Queen of the Night theater when the phone rings again.

This time it's the Hello Brooklyn guys. They basically say that Anthony (friend, and their guitarist) is having to leave as he's playing for some pop star now (Ryn Weaver), and they saw I was busy with the theater show (thank you, social media) so they hired some random guitarists that they hated and did a terrible job, but now that I'm done with the show would I be interested? I ask for dates and I have a bunch of the theater dates already booked... so the band leader says if I can sort out the theater work, commit to the dates the gig is mine.

I call Josh (the guy I sub for at the theater) and basically explain the situation and say 'Dude, I know I just confirmed all of these dates with you but is there anyway I could get out of them', and to Josh's credit he had no problem with it. He knew it was my calling so was a-ok with it!

BOOM! I just landed a full time musical gig.

I would just like to make a quick point here about sticking to your guns. In December of 2014 I was praying to get this ASCAP office job just something to hold on, and getting bummed out at the lack of musical work. Three months later and I'm a professional, full-time musician who can now write off all expensive gear purchases as they are now 'tools'. The ASCAP job was a real turning point. If I had gotten it I would probably still be an office drone. Hello Brooklyn would have seen that I was busy with that and probably never have even called me. You have to be available, professional and patient. It's hard, but that's what it takes for when that opportunity finally comes around.

At this point in time my communication with Michael (the composer) has been very sporadic. A week will go by and I'll think '... wait... I haven't heard from Michael in a while'. He would always ask things of me last minute and I'd always have a show, or theater gig... or something, so I would have to say no. He would also sometimes ask me to play guitar on somethings. When I had nothing going on I was happy to, but when I got busy and starting doing more of that stuff I was hesitant as if I'm doing professional work, then I should charge professional rates.

But we basically just feel out of contact and that's been that...

(went over the character limit. Continue below)
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
(wow I went over the character limit)

Other than that, my friend Anthony has been on tour so I've been covering his teaching work - which has been a nice pay cheque, as well as things going really well with my transcription business. I'm getting more and more job, and it's really picking up. I had someone email me about doing all the copying and piano arranging work for an Opera the other day and quoted them $9,000, haha. (It was a lot of work), and I'm currently arranging music for a cabaret that I just got from someone emailing me though my website.

So now my weeks consist of a lot of gigs, session work and either transcription or composition work. I played on some recording sessions for a producer friend and his clients - that was awesome.

Also recently the same composer friend asked me to do some composing work for him, and for some reason I had some old contact reach out to me asking about composing. So in one week I had three composing jobs, haha. So I'm hoping that can take off in the future.

I know I kind of flew through everything as there was a lot to cover, so it you would like me to expand on some points just ask and I'll be happy to :)

It's good to be back, baby!
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
That bit about the ASCAP woman gave me a strange feeling, like someone was trying to manipulate you.

No, she's legit.

She's the head of the film and TV music department. She basically wanted to help me out because she thinks I'll have a promising future (woo!). So if she helps me, say, get my music on TV and I have the pieces registered with ASCAP then that works well for them too.

So it's like being vetted in a weird way. My producer friend also use to work at ASCAP and she's the one who helped him become a producer/composer.
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
On a separate note I've been emailing a lot of managers lately as I'm trying to push a project forward.

I've been networking my arse off and managed to find some phone numbers for some bug dogs through some creative Googling... I'm most proud of finding Joe Bonamassa's managers phone number after an hour of trawling the internet.
 
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