My name is Bill McGoldrick and I graduated from Berklee with a Degree in Music Education in 1978, a long time ago! I stayed in the Boston area and I have been gigging in Boston ever since. Right now I have my own thing going on, which is my Acoustic Duo, “The Bill McGoldrick Acoustic Duo”. I started this project in the summer of 2011 and since then I have booked more than 110 gigs, right through to December of 2012 at some of the best venues in the area. When I was asked to write this blog, I was told that many Berklee students consider staying in the Boston area, but they worry that there are not enough gigging opportunities. Well I am here to tell you, if you are good, if you play music people can relate to, if you are versatile, then yes you can gig and you can gig often.
I have pretty much done everything when it comes to music in the Boston area: rock bands, cover bands, some musical theater work, GB Gigs, oldies stuff working with Herb Reed and the Platters and now this new acoustic duo. The key for me has been being versatile. I often joke that I am “The Swiss Army Knife” of guitar players and that has worked out for me. Berklee had a lot to do with getting me to that level and I have always said that you can get what you get out of Berklee if you gig for 20 years, but Berklee will get you there much more quickly. Regardless, I have always prided myself on really being able to pull off almost any type of gig or any type of tune. So having the skills is the first requisite and then you have to get your name out there!
I have always said that younger musicians these days have so much more of an advantage with the Internet and social media tools that are out there. You folks can use these tools to get your name out there and that is the key. The real secret is to make something look bigger than it actually is and you can do that with these tools, be it YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, blogs, PR or whatever. You should use them all and you need to be your own #1 cheerleader. Sounds egotistical, but if you do not do it, who will? Success will not come to you while you sit on your couch just because you are the greatest player in the world, you need to make it happen and the best way to do that is to make sure people know who you are.
Another key element to this is it is so much easier today to keep in contact with people whom you meet along the way, whether it is students and teachers from Berklee or while gigging. When I think of all the people who I went to Berklee with and gigged with over the years, had I been able to easily keep in touch with all of them, I probably would have done a lot more in the industry. The way any business works (and music is a business, by the way) is through connections. It is a lot harder to get a gig when no one knows you and a lot easier when you have a good friend giving you the thumbs up. So keeping up your contacts is critical.
Regardless of whether you use social media, it still is a matter of skills. So practicing, getting better, taking more lessons, stretching yourself, playing out as much as possible will help you get to the level you need to be to keep working in a city like Boston, or any major city for that matter.
Back to my duo thing, I used a lot of the elements above but what I have neglected to mention is- you have to hustle. You need a great website, you need great pictures, and you need great videos and demos, all done professionally. For me, since God did not give me a great voice, you need a great duo partner and I have a great one! I went out and got all of that and when I was searching for a singer I used Craig’s List and my ad read “I am looking for the Greatest Female Vocalist in Boston” and I got her! Her name is Pamela Stiebler and she is from Brazil and will be a senior attending Berklee this fall. Check her out here: http://youtu.be/F9mz1M_0eDU Once you have all of that, you can go to the marketplace. The key to any marketplace is to offer someone a needed service and really be the best at it. If you do, you will work.
Before I had this duo I had another one with Sara Thompson a great local vocalist. So I started by going after the clubs she and I used to play at. Then I went after the clubs where I had friends playing and I was pretty simple in my sales pitch (and yes this is sales by the way) “I have the best Acoustic Duo in The Greater Boston Area and you should hire us” and it worked! It took off from there to the point that I now have over a dozen venues booking us on a regular monthly basis, along with a number of highly paid private gigs. I have also signed on with the # 1 Booking Agency in Boston, Music Management. They are booking us in the best hotels in the city.
So the message is, be the best, be great, practice, get better, get your name out there, use the tools, make yourself sound bigger than you actually are (people will eventually believe it) and hustle. If you do all of that, then you will work and you will work a lot! Then take it from there.