I landed my first tour because of a little blog I kept about playing keyboards on a cruise ship. I called it the Chronicles of a Cruise Ship Musician (CCSM). I’d only meant for it to be a casual way to keep in touch with people back home and at first I filled it like a diary — overindulging, maybe, in the self-absorbed drivel that I figured nobody was even reading.
Eventually, though, I stopped writing commentary on what I was eating at the buffet (thankfully) and started writing about the job itself. Maybe it’s hard to imagine now, but when I started the blog in 2004 it was hard to find useful information about what it was like to play music on a cruise ship. None of us on the gig seemed to have any idea what we were getting ourselves into before we actually arrived at the ship.
It wasn’t very long before the blog began to get comments from musicians that had found the Web site through search engines. They were curious about the gig and I answered their questions as best I could.
This continued after I’d finished my six-month contract and, in fact, continues to this day. The blog now has several guest writers and serves as a candid source of information from a musician perspective.
A few summers after my cruise gig I received a phone call from a bassist who had been reading CCSM.
His tour was ending soon, and he thought he might try working cruise ships as a kind of semi-retirement.
We ended up talking for nearly two hours, first about cruise ship jobs, then about touring. At that time I was very eager to get on the road.
He had some great advice for me — including a strong suggestion to join the AFM — and just four weeks later I’d already landed my first tour.
I don’t mean to say that writing a blog will get you a gig — it was much more indirect than that for me. I am, obviously, an advocate of Internet-aided networking, but even I don’t think that merely joining a social network or starting a blog will be enough to get you more work. Tech-based networking will never replace old-fashioned face time, but nevertheless, it has become a powerful way to supplement existing, or even facilitate new, one-on-one interactions.
What the Internet has provided us as professional musicians is not just the ability to promote ourselves, but an ability to define ourselves. Blogs, profiles, personal websites — these are the new resume. You can now write a blog that attracts attention to your knowledge and personality, create a Facebook profile that shows employers your mutual contacts, and build a website that attracts new students and clients. And yes, if it works right, this altogether could lead to new work.
So maybe I do mean to say that writing a blog will get you a gig? Maybe. For me, the Internet has been a very successful way to connect, communicate and collaborate with musicians all over the industry, and blogging has been central to that good luck. Contrary to their widespread stereotypes, blogs and social networks are not about broadcasting our secret adolescence to all of cyberspace, they are about creating a presentation of ourselves, in our case, as expert music professionals whose knowledge and talent add value to whatever projects we’re involved in.
Have you thought about starting a blog? You should. Don’t wait any longer — dive in. You’ll be surprised how quickly and easily you’ll connect with others. You never know what new opportunities that will create for you.
David J. Hahn is a freelance pianist, keyboardist and writer. Originally from the Chicago area, he now lives in New York City and makes most of his bread in musical theatre. Visit Dave’s new blog, and the new home of the Chronicles of a Cruise Ship Musician, at MusicianWages.com.