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THE GIGGING LIFE: IS IT WORTH IT?

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Original article by Tessie Barnett for gigsalad.com

In this line of work, it’s often we come across some exceptional performers and event professionals—most of the time by way of client reviews. That’s how we discovered Mike Cranmer.

With a list of over 40 five-star reviews, Mike’s success and professionalism stood out enough to warrant an interview. I was curious to see what he did that made his clients so happy. Perhaps by highlighting his business practices, I could pull out practical and valuable information for other artists to use for their own performances.

What I quickly learned is that there is no easy way to get to this level of expertise. Mike operates with a strong work ethic, a passion for music, and a unique point of view. Here he tells about his process and why it has such an impact on his clients.

“I’ve been in sales as my day job for 8 years now, and I’ve learned of some parallels between gigging and sales.  Until a sale is closed, it’s a lot of heavy lifting. Same with gigs.”

Mike tells about the labor of the musician and “all the lonely hours spent working on your chops.” Much like a sales position, you want to offer a great product—something that stands out from the competition. If you’re not offering something noteworthy, it’s going to make your job much harder.

In Mike’s case, his music is the product, so the marketing aspect is a little more complicated than a lot of sales positions. “It’s an incredibly tough thing to market yourself, put your music, videos, pictures and other assorted media out there for consideration. It puts the musician in a position of vulnerability.”

He goes on to explain how uncomfortable it is to write promotional material about himself. “I always feel self-conscious saying ‘Mike is a this or that.’ Musicians are typically sensitive, and you’re putting your heart and soul out there for public consumption.” He quotes Robbie Robertson in The Last Waltz saying, “It’s a goddamn impossible way of life.”

One notable difference in Mike’s comparison is that in many sales jobs, once you’ve closed the deal, you’re done and paid. The delivery is often not a part of the equation. But as a musician, your work continues.

“The driving, taking the train with gear, lugging of amps, mixing boards, mic stands, playing outside in the bald sunlight or worse, near zero temps—these are all part of the behind-the-scenes struggle. Even before that, you create the set list that everyone will be enjoying, and no two set lists are the same.”

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Working tirelessly to produce the perfect atmosphere is one of Mike’s remarkable qualities. One client wrote,

“I couldn’t thank Mike enough for the role he played in my proposal. Not only did he serve as the musician, he helped me plan every step of it. I found Mike through GigSalad and since then, he has been an integral part of my planning process…I can assure you he will do what he can to make sure your special day goes as smoothly as possible and be the most memorable day of your life.” -Vinod

Mike’s affection for music was clear in his poetic musings of the performance. “The hard part is now over.  You’ve made it.  You’ve been selected in what is, undoubtedly, a crowded field. And now, you can create the cadence of the party.  You welcome the crowd in with certain songs, you bring them to a crescendo with certain songs, then you ease off the gas before ramping up to the final apex.  There’s nothing more gratifying than having people come up to tell you that you played the song that reached their soul.”

After learning of the vulnerability in marketing yourself and the overall mental and physical workload, I had to ask Mike, “Is it worth it?”

“Music is a transcendent vehicle for moving the soul. You can change the course of someone’s entire evening. It’s sometimes not the greatest paying job in the world, but at the end of the day, if you’re passionate about your music and you’ve given someone a much larger visceral experience—yes, that’s worth all of it.” 

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