How to Break Into the LA Live Music Scene

cover image: Vishnu R Nair

Article by

Jake Courlang


The music industry is all relationship built.

image: Sterling Davis

5 Tips on How to Break Into the LA Live Music Scene

  1. Go Out and Play
    The live music industry is all relationship built. It’s all about whom you know and who knows you. So you have to go out and meet people! There’s a series of great “jam nights” across the greater Los Angeles area. Jam nights are great because it’s not only a chance for you to go showcase your skills, but showcase them in front of fellow musicians. You never know who’s in the audience at these jams and you never know what opportunities they may have; so you want to play well and be cool!
  2. Be Prepared
    Having said you never know who’s going to be in the audience, you always (I repeat: ALWAYS) want to be unbelievably prepared in the material you’re playing, REGARDLESS the situation. Showing up to a rehearsal, gig, jam, session, ANYTHING unprepared does nothing but make you look silly and unprofessional. You have to let people know you’re reliable and you’ll be clutch every time. Otherwise, why should they hire you? There’s no such thing as being too prepared, so take the time, go the extra mile, and really nail anything you do! Your reputation is everything here. If one guy thinks of you as ‘the guy that slips’, he’s going to tell of all his/her friends and next thing you know, half of Southern California thinks you can’t even play “Wonderwall.”
  3. Be a Great Hang
    Every musician will tell you this. When on a tour, you only really think about the hour you’re on stage rocking out, but what about the other twenty-three hours of the day? There’s a lot of down time as a musician and people only want to spend it with people they enjoy spending time with. So always be friendly, mindful of whom you’re working with, what joke is okay to say and which isn’t. It’s crazy the amount of talented people I know that have been let go from a gig just because of something silly like being too outspoken politically or their poor taste in humor.
  4. Be Open-Minded
    Your ideal dream gig may come one day, but unfortunately it won’t every day. However, you have to keep working and keep getting your name and your face out there. So if an opportunity comes that may not necessarily “be your thing”, don’t shut it down just yet! Nothing is wrong with being diverse and trying new things. For example, I’ve never been much of a metal player, but I got a call to do a run of gigs for a symphonic metal band and it was awesome! I had to work a little harder, but I met some great musicians, had a great run of shows, and built work relationships that I hope to keep for a long time!
  5. Have Fun and Enjoy the Journey! 
    This industry is unlike any other. You practically get to hang out and play awesome music with your friends all day and you get paid for it. It’s freaking awesome! There are always going to be ups and downs, but it’s a long journey you’re on, so enjoy it! Take pride in the successes, and learn from the failures. You’re going to fall off the horse a few times and there’s a lot rejection in the beginning, but keep getting up and try again the next day! Trust me, it’s all worth it in the end.
Article by Jake Courlang

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