Welcome to the “Educate and Entertain” Blog!

Below you’ll find a series of articles, tips, encouragements, and how-to’s for musicians and other performing artists who work regionally (in any region) and would like to be making a great living doing it.

(If you’re interested in becoming a household name, national touring, getting lots of radio play, selling downloads, etc, I’m sorry to say that I don’t have much to offer you…)

For the past 29 years, I’ve been supporting myself and my family of four as a regional performer and teaching artist.

dogI work any place I can drive to (and usually back from) in a day, and primarily in non-traditional, “under the radar” venues such as:

  • schools
  • libraries
  • museums
  • historical societies
  • regional concert series
  • performing arts venues
  • cultural centers
  • public and civic events

If this kind of performing interests you, that’s good news, because whether you’re a storyteller, dancer, spoken word artist, professional speaker, actor/actress, musician, mime, or any number of other things (what am I leaving out?), you can build a really great career around these types of gigs.

A Great Living in the Arts: My Story

In 1994, I suffered a difficult repetitive motion injury that took me out of the world of being a working musician.

It was the best thing that ever happened to my music career.

(And no, that wasn’t a typo!)

It’s true.

Losing the ability to play three- and four-hour gigs in bars is what launched me into the world of educational performances, where concerts are generally shorter (40-60 minutes), listening audiences (adults, kids, or both) eat up the shows, venues secure funding to make them happen(!), working hours are earlier in the day, and the living is…well, not easy, because it takes a lot of work to keep it all going…but really good.

I made the shift out of necessity, plain and simple. Shorter gigs with a bit more dialogue between songs were just what I needed to give my arm a rest.

Musician Dave Ruch

Demonstrating the bones. Photo by Greg Meadows

What I didn’t realize, but has become really clear to me since, is that by adding some education and/or enlightenment to your performances, you can literally write your own ticket, setting your own rates and doing really satisfying work around your own areas of interest.

Hence, the title of this blog – Educate and Entertain: A Great Living in the Arts

(And if I can do it, you can too!)

Business and Marketing for Musicians and Performers

I don’t know why, but the business end of keeping my family fed has always come pretty naturally to me, and I know it’s something that many super-talented performer friends and colleagues struggle with.

For so many artists (and others), the marketing end is the yucky stuff.

1117assembly7Maybe for me it was my upbringing as the son of a banker, or my Business and Psychology training in college, or my six years in the marketing field before breaking off as a full-time musician in 1992.

Or more likely, it’s just my fear of failing miserably that’s kept me so motivated to make this work.

Whatever it is, I’ve had a lot of fun trying to keep my calendar filled with rewarding gigs, and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned.

And, I’d love for this to be a two-way conversation. We all have so much we can learn from each other.

Starting Where You’re At

A lot of this advice assumes that you have a really great “product” already, and you just need some new opportunities. If that’s the case, I hope you’ll find some great new strategies and food for thought here.

Some articles will be for those who would like to move into new areas of work where perhaps you don’t yet have the experience you’ll need, but you’re willing to put the time in.

Alright, it’s time to dive in.

Let’s go…