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Ok, so I admit the title is a little cliche, however, as I write this my mailbox is full of messages that have caused me some concern of late.

First of all, I want to qualify all that I am about to say by saying:

1) I'm certainly no expert.
2) I make my living as a player and arranger. I rarely, if ever, produce records, and when I do, they are certainly not big chart hits. (yet!)
3) I ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY mean all of this with ALL humility, and my intent here is to advise younger players who are just jumping on the music biz "ladder".

So.....having said all that, like I mentioned, my inbox is full of messages from guys looking for work. A couple of these guys I know, but MOST of them I've never heard of.

I remember being fresh out of Belmont, hungry for work (geez, hungry for FOOD!!) and trying every trick in the book to get gigs. I sent out demo cassettes (yeah, it was that far back), I point blank asked anyone I knew who hired players, produced records, whatever. It never worked. Ever.

Being on the other side of it, I feel like I should just offer this piece of wisdom: (and here's where you need to remember that part about me meaning this with all humility) I"m just telling you the truth. No producer in town is EVER going to hire you because of some email he got letting him know you're looking for work. The stakes are just too high. The only way it happens is keeping your head down, doing a good job, playing whatEVER gigs you can find, and IF YOU'VE GOT THE GOODS, trust me.....people WILL find out about it. Players will talk. They always do.

I know I'll probably get some responses along the line of "hey, I wasn't expecting to be on the next Rascal Flatts record, I'm just trying to let people know I'm available." Well....I do understand that, but I gotta tell ya, I think (in my humble opinion) you end up shooting yourself in the foot. The problem is just the sheer volume of emails everyone gets. It becomes more of a nuisance than anything, and ultimately, I'm sure there are some PHENOMENAL players out there who end up being associated with a negative impression.

Listen, Nashville is poised to explode in the near future, and I think there is gonna be a LOT of work for everyone, and I truly wanna see the younger, newer faces in town succeed. I'm not sure I even have a good answer for an alternative. I was speaking with a friend about this (who is suffering from the same flood of emails) and he suggested maybe instead of mass emails, perhaps just doing a personal blog talking about who you are, what you do, etc. That sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

One thing I have learned in my 27 years in this business: It is virtually impossible to rush the process. In my experience, EVERY good thing that has happened to me career-wise, has just fallen into my lap with very little effort from me. (You know what I mean....I worked my tail off on the musical side, practicing, etc., but no effort on the PROMOTIONAL side).

Ultimately, I think it's just what I said before. Keep your head down. Play whenever and wherever you can. Don't offer your opinion. Keep your mind and your eyes and ears open and be willing to learn. If you truly have the goods, people WILL find out about it.

In the meantime, PLEASE give my inbox a minute to take a breath! ;-)

Love and kisses....

Tim Akers

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Tim, what can I say? Just awesome. I don't think there has been better advice given on this site than what you just posted. You should now write a book... I'm serious!
hey, I just appreciate you not calling me an arrogant pompous a**. ;-)
My career is like yours, Tim. Virtually every meeting I have ever scheduled has amounted to absolutely nothing. In almost 19 years of being here, almost all my work has been dropped in my lap. If you are good at what you do, people will usually figure that out. Trying to network and advertise usually isn't effective because of the perception it creates, and that's particularly true if you're a newcomer. There are always exceptions, of course. But, in general, it seems that the best way to attain work in Nashville is to show up when you're called and make sure that you deliver the goods. And, getting those first work calls is about being seen and heard. Make friends with people who do what you want to do. If you're not arrogant, those people might allow you to "tag along" on sessions. You will be able to observe and learn, and perhaps to pick up the endorsement of the person you've latched onto. If that person ever needs to sub out a gig, he might call you.

Really, there isn't any one formula. It happens for each person a little bit differently.
Thanks for the advice and encouragement Tim!! It's so hard to 'sit and hope' that things will 'fall into your lap'. But I agree, all you can do is do the best work you can when you are working. I try to remind myself that each gig is a job interview and try not to slack!! I hope my work speaks for itself and I will continue to try to improve myself.

-Greg
Tim,

Man, can I just copy this and use it to reply to my ever-busting in-box as well? As Bret said, truer words were never spoken.

I just did an interview with a young Belmont student yesterday. Really nice kid, and he asked these same questions. My answer was almost what you said, verbatim. My usual quote is "the cream always rises to the top." I know that doesn't help a newcomer who's got bills to pay, but it is SO true.

In my case I can't discount what I believe to be God's obvious provision for me & my family, 'cause I've certainly never had much success when I try to take the wheel.

Cheers,

JD
Ditto, Jim. God's faithfulness is astounding.
great post!

I will say this as a younger worker in town... I say this with humility and as the guy who knows he hasn't figured it all out yet.

Tim, Scott, and Jim nailed this one on the head. All of the work i've gotten has fallen in my lap as well. As Scott said, there were expectations, but getting to that point had nothing to do with me self promoting myself. I have had people on this town that truly befriended me....some even before I moved. To me, that has been priceless. They saw something in me... and something that i couldn't have said in a wonderfully worded email to them. I made great relationships here. And in doing that, every gig...and i mean EVERY gig for or session has come by those friends who believed in me. I just had to do my part musically, and I had to trust in my ability.

Now for what Jim said. I couldn't have said it better. I've tried to do it myself. It didn't work for me. I had to trust in the One who led me here. God is faithful. BOTTOM LINE!

Tim, thanks for the great words.
Yeah, I totally agree. As a relatively young guy too, who has had some really cool breaks, very little of it was MY doing...other than not screwing up majorly once I was in the chair. Obviously, as every one else has already stated, you've got to have the goods once you get the opportunity, or at least the ability to fake your way through it. haha.

Now from the marketing perspective:
I heard a big producer in town (who will remain nameless) once say that one should spend far more time and effort focusing on making friends than he should on "networking" in the conventional sense. I really appreciated this advice to forget about marketing and just build relationships!

And I will say, from my own experience, it's the friends that will get on the phone and hook you up when you find yourself without a gig or with an empty calendar. It's the friends will not hold it over your head if you have to bail on their showcase because you got a really cool opportunity to work with someone new. Most work associates made through "conventional networking methods" would just move on to the next person on their list of perspective schmoozers. But the friends you make along the way (you know who you are) will still want to hang out and stay close no matter where your individual work paths take you.
I completely agree with this logic.

You can also add to the list: If someone is your friend, and calls you to work with them, you know the day will be fun!!
though if any of your friends start using the phrase, "well, bless your heart..."

run like hell.
Thanks Tim for helping me not feel so bad very time I INSTANTLY hit the delete button on those emails.
I love meeting new people, and don't mind being contacted on a "get to know you" basis. But, If I don't know you, asking me for work is NOT the way to get to know me. Again, I never mind, in fact, I enjoy meeting new players in town ...... But please introduce yourself, get to know me, then ....... we can talk about work........ maybe!
Hmmm, actually the coffee shop/Thai food thing isn't so bad. I think it's just that in the email age, everyone is sick of all the mass emails, and "I'm playing this gig" or "that gig" stuff, and sending out elaborate demo packages, etc. The problem with it is that we start knee-jerking the delete button! At least over Thai food, I can talk to somebody and get a read on their attitude and their willingness to work, etc. I'm just sayin'....

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