Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Quick Update!

   Over the few years I have been performing in South Florida, I have noticed that restaurants always seem to have a small magazine rack, near the hostess station that features restaurants and things to do in the area. Usually, the magazine is an offering by the local Chamber of Commerce or a similar agency and it features ads that are purchased by the advertisers for a small fee. Because the magazines are always free, and they are offered at every restaurant and Doctor's office within five to twenty miles of the area, the distribution (number of potential views) is pretty large.
   This past weekent, I happened to notice a new magazine which I had not seen before called, "My City Eats and Entertainment." It is published in Orlando, but there are apparently local versions for Fort Lauderdale, Miami and other Florida cities. The one I picked up features the Ft. lauderdale area. This one is an excellent source of potential clients! I was able to grab contact information for 32 potential clients. I got busy last night and sent emails to most of them. They all had websites, but some had a "form email" contact page, so I will call those today. I sent an email to all of the ones who had a real email address.
   Recently, I created an Excel spreadsheet with some basic columns, like, "Potential Client", "Date of Initial Contact", "Method of Contact", "Follow Up Date", etc. I use this to track my marketing efforts. It is a low budget (free) CRM (customer relationship management) tool and it will allow me to track my contacts and to see what methods of advertising work and which ones don't work for my area. If you are interested in the spreadsheet I use and you're not good with Microsoft Excel, send me an email (rickcombs1@yahoo.com) and I will send you a blank version of it to use for yourself.
   I just downloaded my copy of Dub Turbo. I am not a techie guy, but this software is super-user friendly. I was literally creating beats and music beds within 30 minutes. The instructional videos are really easy to understand and the sound is amazing. If you are thinking about buying beats or one of the more expensive software packages, check out the info page for Dub Turbo (see below). This one is definitely worth the 39 Bucks!

Make your own Beats for less than the cost of buying one song!

Click the link below!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thinking Outside The Box!

   Today, I stopped into Barnes and Nobles to check out some magazines. Originally, I intended to browse through some music mags and I was reading "Down Beat" magazine when I glanced up and noticed a whole section of travel and leisure magazines. So I picked a copy of Florida Travel and Life Magazine, just to see if there were any potential events or restaurants that might need entertainment. I hit the jackpot! I found page after page of restaurant ads, so I sat down with my tablet and made a list of potential venues and contact information.

   I only had limited time to spend in the store, but I was able to make a list of 30 potential gigs, including phone numbers and email addresses! I got home about an hour ago and created an email on a word document. I went online and googled each potential venue to see if they listed entertainment, but I figured, "what have I got to lose?" Even if there websites don't indicate that they have live music, I decided to send an email anyway. 7 of the places didn't have email addresses, so I will call tomorrow to see if I can get the general manager or bar manager on the phone to see if there is an opportunity to perform for an event or a regular gig. So I sent 23 emails tonight with the following message:

   "My name is Rick Combs. I am a Vocalist and I would love to perform for your guests! I perform regularly at Cafe Bella Sera, in Parkland. I have also performed at The Ritz-Carlton (Jupiter), Barton G (South Beach), Prezzo's (Aventura), The Addison (Boca), Viscaya (Miami), Nikki Marina & The Westin Diplomat (Hollywood) as well as The Miami Heat Family Festival (3 consecutive years) at The American Airlines Arena. I sing with keyboards, electronic percussion and tracks, and I have a PA system.

   Please click on the link below to visit my music page which includes some demo selections, a partial song list & some photos. I can offer you excellent entertainment for your guests, at a very affordable cost."

   Monday, I will call all of these venues to see if I can get a decision maker on the phone. Again, the bottom line is, this didn't cost me a dime and I would be willing to bet I find a gig or two from my efforts. About a year ago, I mailed some post cards I got from Vista Print to about 20 restaurants. About a week later, I got a call from a guy named Pete who said he found my postcard on his desk and he wasn't sure why, but he wanted to talk to me about performing in his restaurant. This Saturday will mark one year of performances every Saturday, like clockwork!

   A friend of mine, Charles Jackson once told me, "You have to treat the music scene in Florida like you are bigger than life. You want to make the decision maker feel like he's the only person in the world who has never heard of Rick Combs."  Think "Outside The Box" and expect success.

Would you like to make your own Hip Hop, House, R&B, New Age, Trance or Jazz Music?
Check out Dub Turbo!
Make your own Beats for less than the cost of buying one song!

Click the link below!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Reality Check

A friend of mine, Randy Singer, says, “Few musicians get to be Whitney, Britney, Jessica, Janet, Mariah, or even Toots, Outkast, Benson, Pavarotti, or Paul McCartney, but it is possible to stay busy on the local or worldwide level where life may not be as glamorous but where there is no shortage of work.”

Randy Singer, 2004, “The Musician’s Handbook,” chapter 1, page 1.

From what I can see, Randy has done a really good job with that concept. He’s the music director of a great jazz club (The Van Dyke Café) on Lincoln Road (Miami Beach). You can also catch him most nights at various clubs, performing all over the Miami/Ft Lauderdale area. He is a great singer and an accomplished jazz harmonica player. He has recorded and played all over. And the Van Dyke Café has hosted top of the line jazz players for years. In his handbook, he says that he has supported himself solely on music for ten years. Of course, that was 2004, so now we’re looking at almost twenty years! Randy is a great guy, but I would be willing to bet that most of my readers probably haven’t heard of him. The reality is,…. You don’t have to be “well known” to generate decent income from performing.

For anyone who is trying to find a gig and working a day job that you don’t really like, the concept of making a living solely on music sounds like heaven! But it’s not just being in the right place at the right time. You have to be resourceful. Try to network with the musicians who are playing a lot. Reach out and contact some restaurant and club owners and managers and try to find out the types of music they like to present in their venues. Go out as a fan of music and check out musicians, as well as the venues and audiences. And, make sure you tip the performers. I always make sure that I catch their eye and give a little applaud and then slide a buck or two in their tip jar. I consider that a demo for all the people sitting in the audience. It’s like,….. “If you like the music, give them a tip!” As for me, I will do it, even if the music is not working for me. I consider it Karma!

You can also create opportunities for yourself. I found out about a Women’s Expo in Port St Lucie, Florida, by looking through the listings on Craigslist. Port St Lucie is a very nice South Florida city, about an hour north of me. I reached out to the coordinator of the expo and asked to perform in exchange for an exhibitor’s booth. So, next Sunday, I’ll be singing at the 2011 Port St Lucie, Women’s Expo and marketing myself at an exhibitor’s table afterward. What a great way to get some free advertising and pass out some business cards,  just in time for all of those upcoming holiday parties! Hmmm! Maybe I should wear a tux......


Would you like to make your own Hip Hop, House, R&B, New Age, Trance or Jazz Music? Check out Dub Turbo!

Click the link below!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Decent Weekend!

This past weekend was a great example of how I have been able to find paying gigs. When I first moved to Florida, I had no equipment and I didn't know anyone here. I soon found out that there are numerous "Corporate Bands" that perform all over South Florida and they sometimes hire additional singers and musicians when they have a client who is willing to pay for a "big band." The music they perform is usually Top 40 and R&B music from the 70's, 80's 90's and current music. Earth, Wind and Fire, Barry White, The Commodores, KC and The Sunshine Band are frequently on their playlists. So, periodically, I place ads on Craigslist like this: "Versatile Vocalist Available for Corporate Bands." I have been able to book dozens of shows for decent pay ($300 - $750), and over time, I have worked regularly with a couple of bands. I already know most of their material, so once they go to my site and hear my demos, they ask me to come to one or two rehearsals and it's on! So this past Friday, I did a gig with one of those bands and it was great. I get a chance to wear a tux and I sing lead vocals on maybe 10 or 15 songs (as opposed to the 40 - 50 songs I might do on a solo gig). I have worked with this band about 30 times over the last two years!

In addition, I did a solo show on Saturday. This one was generated at a restaurant where I normally do my solo gigs every Saturday. I always have plenty of business cards on display and many people stop and grab one on the way out. Every once in a while, I get a call from someone who heard me at the restaurant and wants me to do a private party. These are usually pretty easy too, because I can set parameters that make the gig easy. For example; if they have special songs they want me to perform or play during a break, they need to tell me two weeks in advance, so I have time to acquire the music if I don't have it already. The people I played for this weekend were great! They loved the music and sang along with me all night and they really appreciated the way the live vocals impressed their guests. Of course, I also played music during my breaks and schmoozed the crowd while passing out business cards. This coming Saturday, I'll be back at the restaurant. Now, keep in mind that neither of these gigs had a cost associated, other than the business cards, which I got from Vista Print at a super-low price. What a great weekend!

Would you like to make your own Hip Hop, House, R&B, New Age, Trance or Jazz Beats? Check out Dub Turbo!
Click the link below!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Where There's A Will,.........

Although I worked full time in the auto industry and the mortgage business for many years, the soundtrack of my life has always been music. Over the years, I have learned to:

Coordinate Talent and Stage Crews
Market Bands and Performers
Create Performance Contracts
Negotiate Performance Contracts
Design Stage Layouts
Raise Funds
Record Voice-Overs
Work as a Master of Ceremonies
Work "on-camera" as an Actor in Training Videos and Commercials

Even though I never got a big recording contract, I have found that making music can be a great way to supplement my income while pursuing my passion. The “need” to perform has motivated me to find ways to present my music in spite of the fact that I am not a high-tech guy. I just stayed focused on my vision and found a way to make it work and make it marketable. Over the next few months, I’ll share some strategies I have used to earn income and to build a workable performance system that I can actually operate while performing when necessary.

Hey! While we’re on the subject of easy to use technology,……Would you like to create your own music tracks? Here’s a link to Dub Turbo, a really simple to use software package that enables you to create DYNAMIC, broadcast quality tracks without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to do it! Click below for more details:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Joy of Singing (Particularly for Money!)

OK. I'll get back to the nuts and bolts of perfecting your craft (or at least, improving your skills) later. The purpose of this blog is to assist people who want to sing for large and small audiences. When I first started singing, I joined a band that already had equipment and some venues in that geographical area. Although we weren't able to support ourselves solely on music, we had a lot of fun and made some extra money. We had a local following and let's face it; musicians love fans! I learned a lot from that experience and over the last 25 years or so, I have worked with a number of bands in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tenessee and Michigan. Most times, we were the featured act and many times, we opened for some major acts. Some of those acts were, The Ohio Players, The Isley Brothers, Jazz Saxophonist, Tom Scott, Doc Powell, Pieces of a Dream and others.

Many of the guys I worked with were in more than one band with me and we have become like brothers. We became "Road Warriors." As I got into my 30's, I got married and started a family. The idea of working all day, and then practicing three times per week and playing on the weekend just didn't work well with family life, but I had a fierce need to sing. I decided to begin to perform as a solo act. I used to see my favorite singers on The Tonight Show and other TV shows and I noticed that you never really saw a band behind them. You only saw the featured entertainer and you heard the music coming from the band, which was off camera. So I started shopping around for a small, inexpensive but durable and efficient, public address system. I am definitely not a "tech guy." I work for an online university and I tell people that I am a "low-tech guy in a high-tech world."

What I believed then and what I believe now is that if you focus on your goals and work toward the acheivement of them you will find a way. One of my favorite lines from the movie, "The Secret" is that "Thoughts Become Things." I visualized myself on a stage, singing and soon I was performing at awards banquets and benefits and on local TV, with my little PA system, recorded music and my voice. The concept of "Me and My Microphone" actually started right there. http://www.rickcombsmusic.com/

Would you like to create your own music? You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars for complicated software. Dub Turbo Here!  http://e653d0unpjsw2xyb-4zexwxk8a.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=MV9QJSGT

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

So,.... You Want To Sing For Money?

Quality and Integrity First!
Whether your vocal style is like Luther Vandross or Joe Cocker, you have a responsibility to your audience to be the best “you” on stage that you can possibly be. Invest in your skills. Practice singing and if you’re also a musician, practice singing and playing. Hone your skills until you are so comfortable in your presentation that it’s like second nature to you. If possible, take some voice lessons or music lessons at a local music store. If none are available, check the classified listings on http://www.craigslist.com/ in your area. You can usually find listings by people who offer lessons. If you don’t find any music instructors listed, post your own ad saying that you are looking for a voice coach. Now, the idea of lessons and practice may sound boring to you, but one of the best ways to impress your audience is by being really good in the presentation of your music. That is what I call “Musical Integrity.”