I recently had the opportunity to speak with Kurt Scobie (Atlanta, GA), a five-star GigMasters pop pianist and a talented singer/songwriter who has had great success both on and off GigMasters. When he is not touring the country in support of his original music (his latest release "Crash" is available on iTunes) Kurt is playing private events booked through GigMasters.
Our conversation proved that Kurt is a thoughtful, dedicated and articulate guy who clearly 'gets it.' He had some great advice for other performers on social media, keeping the focus on your art and striking a balance in your professional life.
Here is the interview in full:
GigMasters: I know that you are an original artist who is working hard to promote his own work. You seem to stay pretty busy with GigMasters gigs and also gigs and tours you book yourself. What part does GigMasters play in your professional life?
Kurt Scobie: Yes. That is true. First and foremost, I am a singer-songwriter. My main focus is getting my own music out there and making new fans. And I am all grassroots. No label. No million-dollar investors. So when I decided to go full-time into music, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I couldn't quite live off of CD/Mp3 sales so I needed gigs. I kept fairly busy, but GigMasters allowed me to fill the gaps in my schedule and take some higher-paying gigs. So, as I did more private events I was able to fund my "original artist" career and propel that forward.
GM: How are your GigMasters gigs different than your other gigs?
KS: In a lot of ways, the gigs are the same. I set up. I play and sing. People are (generally) entertained. I get paid. The main difference between GigMasters gigs and my original gigs is my shows are all about the "Kurt Scobie" brand. I sell CDs, pass out stickers, promote my other shows, invite people to visit my website, and build my fan-base. Most people don't really want me to do that at their wedding. One couple actually told me I could sell my CDs at their reception. I declined.
GM: Do you like playing weddings? Do they require a different skill set than other gigs?
KS: Weddings are not my preferred gig, but they can be pretty fun. Especially when the person who books me becomes a fan. A few times I will get an email after a couple has paid a deposit, saying that they've also bought all of my songs on iTunes and are "big fans". The skill set is about the same, in my opinion. You have to be good with people. You have to know how and to what extent to interact with people. You have to sing well, and play well. There is a lot that is the same. And for me, if I didn't know about a wedding-specific skill, after a doing a few weddings, I picked up on it pretty easily.
GM: How long have you been gigging?
KS: I have been a full-time musician for about three years. I have been gigging for about five years, and playing and singing for about 20.
GM: How busy have you been this year? Compared to years past?
KS: Busy. I have especially seen a big increase in gigs over the past two years. Usually, one gig leads to other gigs so I am guessing (and hoping) that things will not be slowing down for me. It is a lot of work, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
GM: Do you have a manager or a booker or anything like that or is this all D.I.Y?
KS: I am mostly a D.I.Y. guy. There are so many resources and tools out there that can help musicians network and book gigs. I do have a couple non-contract agents that book local gigs for me, as well as an agency that books college gigs, but I do as much as I can on my own. I am hopefully nearing the point where I'll need a manager, but right now it's just me. If venues ask to speak to my manager, I sometimes pass the phone to my wife. :)
GM: Seems like you are a big fan of Facebook and Twitter. Do you think social media sites can go a long way towards helping musicians? Any tips for musicians who are frustrated with Facebook or Twitter – what can they do to make them work?
KS: Facebook and Twitter have worked great for me, professionally. Fans, friends and family are able to easily follow what is happening with my music through social media. If any musicians reading this right now have NOT joined Facebook or Twitter, stop reading and go create an account. It's easy, free, and will help you build your online presence. More exposure means more gigs. To the musicians who ARE on it, you might be using it too much. I have had to really watch how I use my time with those sites. They can distract you from your art.
I could write a whole article on how to use and not use Facebook and Twitter (careful what you wish for - ed.). But, if I had to choose one bit of info to share it would be to "use it or lose it". If you're on Facebook: interact with people. Comment on photos, send messages, poke people or whatever. If you're on Twitter: respond to posts, ReTweet interesting tweets, CONNECT.
If you just sign up, put up a few pics and then just expect people to pay attention to you, good luck. Connecting is most important when it comes to social media. You have to invest into it in order for it to work for you.
GM: Anything else?
KS: Yes! I have found that having Facebook, Twitter, my website, GigMasters, YouTube, etc. have been incredibly helpful, but at the end of the day if I'm not doing my art, there isn't really a point to the other stuff.
Like I said at the beginning, GigMasters gigs allow me to do my art. If I spend too much time tweaking my GM profile and not working on a new song, my art suffers. It's all about finding a good balance. I appreciate that GigMasters encourages the use of their site for musicians to get gigs while understanding that the art is what is most important.
GM: Thank you!
KS: Thank YOU!