Always Be Ready to Audition

On another forum, a musician discussed going to an audition for a gig he didn’t really want anyway, so he hadn’t bothered to prepare much.

My response (edited a little for clarity) was:

To me, the whole point of playing music is getting out in front of people and sharing and touching hearts, bringing fun, grace, and peace to folks who came out because they need something they can’t get from staying home with the TV on or something. A performance where that happens is the “end game” for me, and everything else I do related to music is just a means to that end. If all the work I do to get in front of people falls apart because the sound system sucks or something, that’s too bad, but if it falls apart because I’m not ready, that’s on me.

Time to get acquainted with Tom Jackson’s “Live Music Method,” which not only teaches you HOW to structure your sets but WHY. Tom and his colleagues have a lot of other great information on how to engage with audiences quickly. (Yes, there are copycats, but Tom’s the original who’s helped quite a number of names you’d recognize string together great tours and even careers without label support.) I have links to a bunch of Tom’s blogs on one of the forums, But those are just the “tip of the iceberg.”

Now let’s talk about auditions. When I was a young technical writer in a VERY volatile IT industry (I’ve been laid off 14 times), I used to interview for jobs I didn’t want, just to stay in practice. And I would go after every job as though I wanted it, even if I didn’t. Then when my company would shut down or kill a big project and I’d be interviewing for real, I was competing with people who’d only ever interviewed two or three times in their lives.One Way to Blow an Audition

Even if you don’t want this particular gig, give it all you’ve got, because that will help you be more ready for the life-or-death audition. And you never know who’s listening. There’s a big difference between other folks in the room saying, “You killed it, but you’re not quite right for this opportunity,” or saying “Why did you waste our time?” A year from now an opportunity you ARE suited for may come up, and someone in the room might remember you. Or the person they hired might break a leg and you might be next in line.

Sorry, this probably sounds harsh. But not everyone can afford a string section on their album, or expensive brochures, or whatever. But EVERYBODY can afford to be studied up, practiced up, and ready for the next opportunity – as St. Paul says, “instant in season and out of season.” Well, you asked.


About Paul

Paul Race has been writing and playing all kinds of music since the 1960s, though he tends to favor acoustic and traditional songs. He has created resources like,, and to help other musicians get a good start on their own journeys.

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