It’s good to be noticed and appreciated for your guitar playing. It’s even better when someone is looking for a guitarist for a project and people give him or her your name (and better still if they also give your number or contact information!).
There aren’t a lot of ways to get your name out there if you don’t already know a prominent musician, or have a noticeable platform to play on. Having an active role in your immediate musical community, however small or large it may be is a worthy goal to have as you develop your ability to play guitar.
In order to get your name out there to get your foot in the door there are several things you need to do both in preparation and then in your actual pursuit of joining that community.
I’ll flush all these “marketing techniques” out one at a time.
10. Study to show yourself approved — A lot of today’s guitar players fudge theory and the technical aspects of guitar. Yet having actual knowledge of musical concepts presents an opportunity to immediately put yourself above the fray. Thus if you can become not just a quick hand, but a student of the instrument, you’ll already be more attractive to established musical groups.
9. Pursue a guitar niche — You need to have a specialty, and you need to be keenly aware of that specialty and how it can help a prospective group or band. It can start with choosing rhythm or lead guitar. Even after that you can hone your skills further and carve out a unique specialty that will make you more interesting and valuable. Just as you select a concentration or major when getting a bachelors or master degree, likewise you should select an area of expertise when you pursue your instrument.
8. Fully develop your skills — This might sound elementary, but a lot of players (especially the younger ones) try and jump into projects and bands before you have even really learned how to play. The truth is that it takes years to fully develop your ability, and you’re not doing yourself, or anyone else any favors if you jump into things too early.
This obviously means that if you’ve started playing guitar at a young age you have an advantage here, but either way, you need to have fully developed your playing ability before you try and share it. Unfortunately this means a lot of playing guitar by yourself.
7. Have (and show) a genuine interest in people and in other people’s music — You need to have a genuine love and interest in people that goes beyond your desire to get noticed for playing guitar. If your desire to have people aware of your guitar playing becomes too evident, it can be very off-putting and obnoxious. The best way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to take a real, honest interest in other people above yourself. It’ll immediately make you a more likeable person, and people will find out about your guitar playing more naturally.
Likewise, take a true and sincere interest in the music other local musicians are playing. Being interested in their music will give you motivation to contribute your skills to their projects. People are more likely to want the company of other artists who share their musical passions and visions.
6. Look for areas where your musical contributions would fit well — I mentioned earlier that developing your niche is important. Once you’ve done that and you’re trying to market that specialty, concentrate your effort towards bands or venues where that niche would be the most beneficial. There’s no way to know for sure, but do some research and give it some thought before you try and join up.
5. Use YouTube – One of the first things you can do to create your brand in a more public forum is post some original material, lessons, covers or demonstrations on YouTube. Even if you don’t get a lot of views, you can at least refer people to your page easily to demo your playing ability.
4. Not giving away free CDs — Maybe it’s just my opinion, but people who shell out free CDs in an effort to get noticed, are extremely uninteresting. Nowadays people don’t even buy CDs of bands they actually know and like.
If you cut a few tracks, don’t go through the trouble of creating a cheap CD cover and spending money on discs and cases. Just keep them handy as an MP3 until the right person comes along to share it with.
3. Use a music social media platform like Pure Volume — If you want to put tracks out there, Pure Volume is a good place to do it. The nice thing about the site is that unlike Facebook or Twitter, anyone on that site is exclusively there for their interest in music, establishing an immediate commonality between yourself and potential profile viewers.
2. Network with local bands and musicians — It sounds simple enough, but this is a technique that is severely underutilized, but if implemented correctly, would make a lot of these other strategies much easier. If you’re a skilled guitarist with some respectable material on YouTube, check local ads or even Craigslist and answer some of the requests for guitar players. Most people will respond and at the very least start a dialogue with you and give you another contact in your address book. There’s always potential to get in touch with a well established band, and at the very least you’re expanding your network.
1. Be able to solve a band’s problem — It remains true that the best way to market yourself as a guitar player (and in just about any other profession) is that you need to have the ability to solve a problem or fill a need. If you can set yourself up as someone who can do that, and in turn, recognize where that need is, you’ll have no trouble getting in with the serious gigs. Thus the process is two-fold: Develop your niche, than identify a place where that niche is needed then market yourself as someone who can solve the corresponding problems.
To keep things in perspective, it’s not always getting noticed, recognized or garnering popularity that makes playing guitar rewarding. But there is a huge feeling of satisfaction when other musicians seek you out for your musical skills and personal abilities. Above all else, just keep playing. Thanks for reading.
Robert Kittleberger is the founder and editor of guitarchalk.com. You can follow Robert on Twitter @guitarchalk.