As I am writing this I am in Missouri for my final showcase of the season. I'm sure, if you follow me on social media, you will have seen all these showcases I've been going from state to state to perform at.
Long story short, in an attempt to move my musical career forward I decided to start showcasing at conferences. My first ones were at the ArtsNW booking conference (NWBC) and MPAC (Montana Performing Arts Consortium). This year, with the addition of the amazing Liz Gregory to my team, I've been traveling from Fair Convention to Fair Convention to showcase. Mostly with the band but also sometimes solo.
Every one of these endeavors is a pay-to-play scenario. I use this term purposely because it usually makes every musician I know run away screaming. I know musicians who adamantly declare that there is never a reason to pay-to-play and they steer clear of anything that involves an upfront cost to invest in their band's future. Obviously, there is a reason this pay-to-play term has been banned from civilized conversation. It's because it has been misused and people have either been cheated, or their gamble (because it is a gamble) didn't pan out. But I believe there is a time to invest. There are times when it makes sense to pay-to-play.
For each of these showcases, I had the cost of airfare, food, lodging and pay for myself and 3 other musicians. Sometimes car rental too. So I'm sure you can deduct that just by those expenses, doing eight of these showcases this winter was a huge investment for me and my husband.
Is it worth it? So far my first little dabbles in showcasing have paid off and then some. So I am confident these will too. Ask me at the end of summer if I still feel the same!
During these months of constant expenses, I have had to keep my cool during some crazy experiences. Being sick for one, having to pay triple the original cost of airfare for another, having to borrow a bass at the destination at a third, and driving all four of us around in the snow on glassy roads at a fourth. I don't have a manager. I don't have a tour manager even. I have been in charge of planning every detail while also performing.
It has also made me more efficient, and made me have to have to work smarter, not harder. I've had to stomach much bigger sums of investing than I have previously ever had to do. It has made me practice gratitude, visualize abundance, and exercise trust. Trust, that this will all pan out in the end.
In the end, I have been in front of more talent buyers from fairs and festivals than I could ever dream to reach out to on my own. With the help of my team and the follow-up they are doing, this is already panning out. It's a tried and true method, and that's also why I believe it's going to work. My job is just to put on the best damn show I can and the rest will fall into place.