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Lots of musicians wanted: A Gig You May Have Never Considered

Musicians wanted for a place with no rowdy crowds, no drunken customers, no late nights, easy hours, and making more than scale? Musicians wanted for travel, meeting interesting people, and talking about music and instruments all day? And nobody is throwing off-the-wall requests at you either? You get paid on time, and the check always clears the bank. Where are these musicians wanted?

If this all sounds too good to be true, it's not. Musicians are wanted for positions like product trainers, clinicians, and instrument specialists who work for major musical instrument manufacturers. They do this week-in and week-out. It's an easy gig for musicians with good personality skills, serious instrument chops, and someone who doesn't mind a different city each day. These musicians/product specialists hold clinics at retail music stores to demonstrate how to get the most of what is wanted in an instrument, and talk about (as well as demonstrate) the specifics of an instrument's features and benefits. These musicians are also a help to a regional sales representative from the company itself, and they assist the store manager when a clinic or training session is being held.

The nice part of this gig is that you can really expand your chops playing things you like, network yourself into another sector of the music business, become more wanted as a musician, and get yourself something to fall back on when your gig calendar isn't booked as full as you would like. You meet some great people along the way, and your frequent flier miles will add up too. Those plane rides to Fargo, Dubuque and Fresno, in September, might get you a free trip to St. Thomas or Key West in February. There are some great perques too, like rental cars, food expenses and decent hotels. It can be nice work.

For the salespeople in a local music store, an instrument specialist shows how to demonstrate a particular instrument, and discusses the latest models and features. He or she shows them how to demo, and how to make it easy to sell. For the customers, a product specialist basically shows, demos and suggests "buy this instrument and you can play like me!" OK, OK, you have to be able to sell yourself and sell the product, but you're selling yourself every time you go on stage anyway. Maybe that instrument you're demoing for those die-hard musicians at a local music store isn't what you wanted, but on this gig, it sure better be. If you can handle that part, with a little street smarts and personality, you could do real well.

So, how do you get these gigs? They're available with almost every major guitar, drum and digital keyboard manufacturer. I talked about this to execs at both Yamaha and Roland. Both companies have full time and part time specialists. Avery Burdette at Yamaha is in charge of the Digital Musical Instruments department. Yamaha looks for part-time people to do 2 days a week, visiting 2 dealers a day. Avery says "Yamaha wanted musicians who are personable, presentable, and can play well." They are also looking for people who "can work with the regional reps, and can relate well with dealers and customers alike." He also went on to say they "give special consideration to those with some retail experience and who know what not to say, as well as what to say." We don't want people who like to discuss pricing, the competition, and their own playing ability. We also don't want musicians whose egos are out of control."

I also talked with Chris Bristol and Paul Youngblood at Roland. Chris is a good guy who knows a lot about the music business. He says "almost every major musical instrument manufacturer uses product specialists; maybe not the reed or accessory people, but definitely the horn, drums, guitars and keyboard guys." Roland also uses recording engineers/clinicians who can demo and explain the newest recording gear. Musicians are wanted who have computer smarts, know Excel, can do PPS presentations, have the ability to travel, and know a specific instrument inside-out." Paul Youngblood said musicians are wanted at Roland “who can bond with both salespeople and customers."

If you want to know the names and addresses of the other major instrument companies, check their websites, talk to your local music dealer, or try to get a NAMM directory. There are a ton of these companies who use talent.

The most important thing to remember is that these musicians are wanted at these companies who sound mature, can think on their feet, and are dependable. If you are really looking for a solid rock gig where playing clubs and concerts for days on end is your goal, this probably won't blend with what you are trying to achieve. But if you teach, do studio work, play casual dates, and know your axe, this gig could fit in perfectly. The work is there, and the money is there too. Your office space will probably be an aisle seat on one of the major airlines. Travel is part of the gig. And these gigs could lead to something better down the road. Check it out.

Bob Popyk is a member of Local 78 in Syracuse, New York, and Local 47 in Los Angeles, California. He is also a nationally known columnist and speaker on sales and marketing strategies.

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