How I've Made Music My Full-Time Gig
4. Making Connections
One thing that has remained constant in my career is that anyone can be a great connection. Not too long after moving to the Twin Cities, I met a couple who plays over 300 nursing home gigs a year. Our paths crossed through a bi-monthly volunteer gig that I had been doing at a local home for people with Alzheimer’s. They let me pick their brains, and before I knew it they began passing some gigs onto me. I wanted to become a better singer and entertainer, and seniors were a great audience for me to hone skills. They are wonderful at showing their appreciation and are lots of fun. Through these experiences, I also realized that I loved playing for seniors, and this has also become a steady stream of income and joy in my life.
When a friend from college heard I was moving to Minnesota, she reached out over Facebook to see if I was interested in doing a music program for 10 libraries in western MN. This was a gig I never would have thought of on my own, but I jumped at the opportunity. I wrote and performed a show about Minnesota composers and their music for both kids and adults. Through those first 10 shows, I was able to book 15 more shows in libraries.
Another lucky break came when a friend spotted a sign at the airport. They were looking for pianists, and I didn’t hesitate to apply. I got the job and have been playing at both terminals at MSP for almost two years. Not only does the gig pay, but it is also a great opportunity to sell my six albums. I’ve also gotten some pretty interesting tips, including a snack pack from a little kid, a winning scratch off lottery ticket, many handwritten notes, and of course cash! On top of all of this, I have also booked a few gigs from passengers who were listening to me play while waiting for their flights.
I have played countless other gigs for friends’ weddings and referrals from both musician and non-musician friends for all sorts of great gigs. Friends can really help your career out and I am so thankful for them!
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Nate Hance is a professional pianist, entertainer and composer living in St. Paul, MN. He grew up in Minot, ND but has traveled around the world playing music. You can listen to the six albums that he has written as well as check out his goofy music videos on YouTube