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Musicians Contact winter news & comments The Source For Jobs Since 1969 Sterling Howard, Founder/Owner Musicians receiving this email: 43,446


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Happy winter to you! Anyone who has read our newsletters in the past knows that we publish readers' comments about ways to improve the state of LIVE music. I just got a great new book by Bill Cinque titled The Amazing Adventures of a Marginally Successful Musician. Bill is a bassist who has been registered with Musicians Contact for the last 15 years and his book is an educational and humorous look at the life of a "working class musician". Here's a snippet from a chapter entitled The Music World's Most Over Used Phrases:

I will interpret some of the most common language you will hear directly after you walk off the bandstand after a show. As with all matters in my book, I will do my level best to handle this with the delicacy it deserves:

"Sounded great out front" = you sucked "The bass player was solid" = he sucked "The material is really commercial" = it sucks "Great stage presence" = don’t sing "The chick singer is awesome" = I want to have sex with the chick singer

Be realistic. All your friends are trying to be supportive. They know how excited you are about your new band. They are truly happy for you. They drove 20 miles in the rain and paid $14 for cheese fries and a glass of something brown just to give you an audience. You come running out of the foot lights and say, “So, what did you think? Did you like that last tune? Don’t you love the new drummer? You know you can tell me what you really think.”

Right about now is the moment of truth. Your college room mate, Uncle Tad and J.J. from shipping and receiving all look you right in the eye and start using words like “amazing” and “awesome.” Then, as if scripted, comes a stream of the above mentioned phrases.

Hey, you had it coming. Asking these people how they liked your show is similar to your girlfriend asking you if she looks fat in that skirt. The truth? You want the truth? Every Jack Nicholson fan knows the next line. No one wants to crush you. No one has the heart. Except me.

BOTTOM LINE: Bad shows are going to happen. There will be any number of reasons for a bad show. Sometimes it’s the soundman. Sometimes it’s technical problems. Every once in awhile, you have to face the fact that the band just wasn’t up to the task.

In reality, the good shows will far outnumber the bad. You have to learn from the mistakes. You have to trust your ears and instincts. Be analytical. Take the time to record or video several of your shows. Dissect the set. Be prepared to take some criticism. Choose your words carefully when critiquing your bandmates. Be open to making the appropriate changes. Be willing to rehearse these changes. You can’t always rely on your close circle of friends to tell you how well you’re doing.

Bill has played over 4200 jobs in 30 years of gigging. You can download 270 pages of knowledge and fun by ordering his Ebook at the "musicians special" price of $6.00. $6! Go to


And now some comments about the live music scene sent in from readers of our last newsletter:

J. Thomas said:

To me, the scarcity of decent gigs and decent pay scale can be summed up in the following categories: 1- overabundance of canned "entertainment" 2- crushing economic demands (insurance, rents, etc) on anyone who would run a small business 3- mediocre musicianship, a by-product of a give-a-crap society that will consume anything and is accepting lower standards for anything that is put in front of it. 4- an increasingly car-choked suburban environment that takes such a huge effort to navigate that many would rather not bother trying to get to a club.

It is my humble opinion that both #1 and #2 can be gotten around, if not annihilated, by #3. #4 is something that will have to resolve itself over the next couple decades if the world oil supply dries up.

An anonymous comment:

If we are going to call ourselves pro musicians, then we have to handle ourselves and our business likewise. When we play, we're being paid for it, and we're on somebody else's clock, just like any other job. I think rampant unprofessionalism is largely what is keeping pay scales down.

KJ Harris adds:

The quality standards have been lowered. Live music is not revered as before. Much of today's product is made with click tracks, sequencers and computers. The listener does not hear live musicians interacting with each other simultaneously.

A note to senior players from R.S.:

I am pushing 70 and still love to play jazz. I've found that some don't want to watch a seasoned player, but I don't give in. I keep up with my music and play regularly in small venues. The little bit of extra cash helps a lot, and the appreciation of other seniors or near seniors is a blessing. Just get out there and DO it.

And from an optimistic Eric Gynan:

I give it up for all the bands out there creating the scene. After all, it's YOU who are making history. It's always been the musicians pounding the pavement and developing the foundation for what will surface on the radio waves. I'm very happy with what is going down. There's a lot of freedom and room for movement, musically. There's now an opportunity for all of us to be heard by anyone in the world, instantly, that never existed before. It seems to me that with this kind of inertia in motion, we will see an explosion, another music revolution.

Have something to add? Comments? Gripes? Please, send them to: so we can feature them in the next newsletter.


I know you have at least one good story or joke from the following list. Shoot us an email on any of these topics so we can post it next time:

* Your Worst or Most Unusual Gig * The Best Gig Ever * Your Weirdest Audition * Your Closest Call To Fame * Bad/Best Musician Joke

Worst Gig: (submitted by Pete Surowski)

This was not actually a gig of mine, but a gig that I booked for a band many years ago when I thought I wanted to become an agent. To make a very long story short, this was the first gig I ever booked. The musical part turned out ok, but towards the end of the wedding reception, the band either started, or participated in, a shoving match, which resulted in the bride, in her wedding dress, being pushed into a swimming pool, and the mother of the bride also being pushed into the pool (with her camera), and Lord only knows what else went on!? Needless to say, that was the end of my "agent" career.

Closest Call to Fame: (submitted by Carlos Luevano)

In 1969 I got an audition thru Musicians Contact for an r&b band. I met with a guy with the last name of White and he asked me to join the band and do an upcoming showcase with them. I thought they were terrible and agreed to do the showcase just to get out of there. He later called my house for days, until he finally got tired of calling me. A couple years later, I was watching TV and the host said "Here they are, Earth Wind & Fire". Well, I was surprised to see them on TV and they had improved quite a lot. Regrets... maybe a little. They obviously have become a rich part of our 70's music history.

Best Gig: (submitted by Michael Matone)

I was told it was a nice venue, but performing NYE at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando, residence of Tiger Woods, was astonishing. Not just for witnessing top of the line golf courses, dining facilities, recreation and weight rooms, etc., but for when I needed to find a bathroom before going on stage. I found my way to the locker room and found rows and rows and rows of every designer label after shave lotion, deodorant, hair gel, sprays, powders, soaps, etc. available to all who partake in this country club service. But when the individualized toilets, screaming with the finest of finished woods surrounded me, I knew I was in heaven. I hopped up on stage a new man ready to sing!

Bad/Best Jokes:

How do you make a musician complain? Give him a gig. How do you make him complain more? Give him a raise.

What's the difference between a violin and a fiddle? A violin has strings, a fiddle has strangs.

Describe a hip replacement: Replace your accordian player with a jazz pianist.

How do you get a drummer off your front porch? Pay him for the pizza.

Difference between a guitar and a trampoline? Gotta take your boots off before jumping on the trampoline.

I've been thinking about giving up the music business entirely, and becoming a drummer.

What's worse than a piano out of tune? An organ that goes flat in the middle of a piece.

A father agreed to pay for bass lessons for his son. The first week the father asked what he had learned. "I learned about the E string" replied the son. The second week the father asked again. "On my second week I learned about the A string" said the son. After the third week the father said "These lessons are getting expensive. What did you learn today?" The boy said "I quit the lessons, I already got a gig!".

Please, I know you can top these. Send your worst/best to: See you next time!

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