It's been several months since I've shared any news about what has been happening musically in my world, and probably time for an update. My lack of writing has not been due to a lack of things to report, but actually the opposite! I've been playing a ton of guitar and working more than ever. The music industry has seen some major changes over the last 13 years. The online revolution for all types of media, including music, hurt the biggest players like record labels while simultaneously enabling independent musicians to distribute their music on a more level playing field. For several years, musicians like myself were able to make their own album, digitally distribute it worldwide, and make some money. For a few years, that money played an important role in my overall income.
Since 2010, right around the time I released my last album, it's been harder and harder to make much money strictly from music sales. It's not that people aren't interested in the music, but the methods of consuming the music, such as online streaming, pay far less than a traditional CD sale or almost-as-traditional album download. I saw this coming and knew that I would need to make more money through other means.
The logical option was to focus on any sort of gig that paid me to play guitar. After all, that's what I am first and foremost: A guitarist.
And so, this year has been all about hustling for gigs. I'm still playing with several of the bands I've worked with for years, but have stopped playing with a few to allow myself time to pursue more steady work. You see, an original band can really only perform once or twice a month without saturating the market and spreading it's audience too thin. My goal was to find more frequent gigs, which would mean either play with twice as many original bands, or play with bands that can perform more frequently.
The first gig that came my way was a Spanish rock cover band. Imagine a cover band at any restaurant or bar, except this group is a bunch of Dominican musicians, and me. Right now I'm working with them every Friday night uptown in Manhattan. I not only had to learn new music, but also some new styles of music for this gig.
The other steady gig I've been pursuing is musical theatre. My good friend Dave Hahn is a Broadway keyboardist and conductor, and he had been encouraging me to consider the hustle. It's a lot of work and can take some time to get your foot in the door, but I'm starting to work as a sub more frequently. For those of you that aren't familiar with the way the gig works, every Broadway and most off Broadway musicals have eight performances a week. The musicians are allowed to sub out up to half the shows, allowing them to pursue other gigs or simply take a night off. Because of this they need several subs that can learn the music and be available to fill in for them. That actually creates quite a bit of good paying work for musicians in New York.
My first theatre gig this year was subbing for a limited run, off Broadway production of Carrie: The Musical. That show closed in April, but led me to meet the guitarist on the current off Broadway production of Rent, where I'm currently subbing. I'm also working on a the music for a Broadway show with the hopes of subbing on that show soon.
I'm having a great time playing these gigs and have really grown as a guitarist in the process. In most of the bands I work with, my job is to sound like myself and do what I do best. In cover band gigs, my job is to sound like the guitarist on the recordings. In musical theatre, my job is to sound like the guitarist for whom I'm subbing. While learning the music I'm also learning to emulate some great guitarists.
Meanwhile, of course, I'm still playing with some great original bands including Little Grey Girlfriend, Stellar Ego, and the City Billies. The City Billies just released an EP, actually, and you can hear my mandolin throughout it. Download a copy on iTunes!
I've also been writing new material for my trio, although that has been put on hold momentarily while I learn music for some of these new gigs. Also, my good buddy and favorite keyboard genius, Brad Whiteley, has been on the road with Regina Spektor this year! That has been a great gig for him and I'm really proud of what he's doing. Brad is also a major piece of Little Grey Girlfriend, which means that band won't be performing much for a little while.
So that should just about catch you up on the happenings of this guitarist in Brooklyn. I'll continue to post videos and Woodshed Wednesday guitar lessons as I have the time. Thanks so much for reading and your continued support!