Life as a struggling artist is, in a word, hard. You essentially have two jobs. Daytime Ramen noodle thief, nighttime Ramen noodle eater, thus leaving little time for those noodles on your guitar.
You also don’t want to squander all your hard work and creativity. Posting on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Datpiff isn’t enough to get recognized. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, just look at Asher Roth. Or don’t, he does reflect the sun something awful. It’s great for your friends, but the point is, you need a venue. People will talk when they see how you are live. Gaining a cult following in this way is the first way to blow up. Wale did it in D.C., then expanded by playing in all the local venues. He still does. It’s so easy to find him.
The thing is, you may be asking, where do you go? How do you get booked without a manager? The easy answer is, with connections. All it takes is one. As a member of the University of Maryland’s Music Business Society, we are always looking for talented artists to bring to campus, whether they are well-known or local. We get this done by emailing the band directly or whoever they are associated with to let them know we are interested in having them perform. Of course this works the other way around too. Contacting and sending a sample or two of your music is a great way to get noticed. Music lovers in the music biz are always willing to give something a listen.
You might be thinking, “I’m not a big enough name to actually draw people, why would they choose me?” Well, Mr./Ms. Sadsack, college bars and small-time businesses with room for live music are always looking for up and coming acts to open for larger names. A new bar at UMD, The Barking Dog, has been trying to draw in the kids. Facing tough competition from more established venues, they have been bringing in local artists to perform live, to build interest.
So if you’re in school already, look up the school clubs and find one that organizes functions where you can perform. If you’re not in school, do the same thing! Other options include contacting your local government if they are heavily involved in your community. Mine puts on free concerts during the summer. C’mon guys, FREE CONCERT, people will be there. Live music is amazing, so get over your stage fright and get up offa that thing and try to release the pressure!