If you’re anything like me, then you will need to build a list of suitable accompanists that you can call on to back you up for gigs. Even though I play guitar and piano, I still feel most comfortable just singing while someone else plays the piano for me.
So how do you go about finding an accompanist if you don’t have any contacts? Here are a few ways I use that have worked for me all over the globe:
1. Look online for gigs in the area you want to perform in and take notice of the players.
Whenever I am touring to a new location and need an instrumentalist I look at jazz clubs’ gig guides and look at who is playing then I Google the players online. More often that not instrumentalists don’t have websites like singers do but they will be on social media. So you can find them that way and it is really common to book musicians for gigs via Facebook or even Twitter these days. I do it all the time.
Don’t feel like a cyber-stalker either, most musicians are used to being approached by singers for gigs and are usually really open to getting messages from someone they don’t know if there is the potential to earn money involved.
2. Get friendly with your local music scene and ask friends for recommendations.
Word-Of-Mouth is how I get 90% of my contacts. I ask my pianists for names and numbers of other pianists for example. Even if they can only give me one or two names, it means you can ask the next guy for some more names and so on. Soon you’ll know every decent pianist in the area.
Sometimes I’ll reach out to singers in other cities and ask for recommendations. Singer’s generally have the most contacts out of everyone so hit them up! Singers are usually easier to contact as well because they will have a greater online presence and either a contact email or form on their website.
When you approach them, just quickly introduce yourself and ask if they wouldn’t mind recommending a decent player that you could use. Most singers are lovely and are usually happy to help. If you encounter a douche-bag, just move onto to someone with manners.
You can also ask music clubs for names. If you do folk, ask the local folk music association, ditto for jazz. They are everywhere. Especially for smaller niche styles of music.
An Extra Pro Tip:
Keep a spreadsheet of the players you find with their contact details, location and style of playing. It is so much easier to scroll through a well organised list to book players for multiple gigs than it is to dive into the depths of your iPhone and try to find names you remember.