One of the things that makes starting out as a freelance musician tough is having to chase every job – and getting rejected, or just downright ignored, for the majority of them, especially to start with. Any professional musician (including, perhaps, especially, teachers) will tell you the worst part isn’t the work itself, even the bad jobs (and there always are some); it’s the admin, chasing, applying, advertising, hounding people for payment …
My impression is the really successful people (even if they still work as freelancers) aren’t really responding to ads at all. They’re getting all their work by personal contact and word of mouth, and most of it by people asking them to do work, rather than them hearing about an opening and asking to be allowed to fill it.
So it’s been gratifying in the last month or so to get a few repeat and/or proactive bookings to bulk up the work available by endlessly poring over classified ads in Facebook groups. A fellow freelancer asked me to dep for her at one of her regular gigs that she couldn’t make (thank you Judith!) – and as luck would have it the same orchestra were one second fiddle short for their next concert and hired me back for it in principle on the spot. Brighton’s a bit of a trip from Oxford, but I’m growing quite fond of the place.
I have almost a regular gig in the scratch orchestra accompanying a local choral society. It’s not much money and only about a once a term of course, but it keeps me in orchestral playing, varies my repertoire conveniently, lets me roll over items on my CV and has the beauty of incurring no expenses as it’s all within biking distance of home.
Finally, I was particularly pleased to get approached by Celtic-inflected function band Razzberry Jam to reprise my guest fiddle playing with them in July. A projected trio gig with their lead singer and a guitarist came to nothing, and it was only by reapplying that I got a guest slot for a St Patrick’s booking. This time though they had two gigs booked in and came asking to add me to the lineup again.
Do a good job first time round, and if you work for anyone successful, they’ll have a reason to get you again. Pretty much the mantra of my freelance start-out – and now apparently paying off, even it is six months in becoming at all noticeable!