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Are you a musician or songwriter? If so, where do you perform? Does your music go beyond the four walls of your bedroom and a few trusted friends? Most musicians suffer in silence working a forty-hour-a-week job and then coming home to play their music to themselves. If I told you that you could earn an extra income with your music would you listen? Before we get started let me clarify something. I didn’t say quit your day job, abandon your family and hit the road as a vagabond musician. The first thing you will need is talent. Knowing three chords and twenty folk songs does not qualify you as a musician. If, however, you are willing to invest the time and effort it requires, you can enjoy the satisfaction of earning extra income and performing your own music.

If you are a singer-songwriter the first thing you can do is get all your music together, practice and start pounding the pavement for places to play. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well, actually, it is. Depending on your style and convictions there are a ton of places to perform. Coffeehouses, bars and churches just to name a few. The key is in the approach.

You want to make the best impression possible. So, be as professional as possible. I found the best way to approach a new venue is to use a press release packet. First, have some photos taken of you or your band depending on the circumstances. Next, take the photos to your local Kinkos and have some flyers made with your name and contact information. I prefer 8 ½x11. This way you can place it easily in a folder. If you have the money have a demo of your music available. Not only can you use it as a referral for your music, but also (with a little fancy packaging) you can sell it at your gigs.

I know this can be expensive but it will make obtaining jobs easier if people can hear your work. There are a number of ways you can go about creating a good demo. You can spend the money on a professional studio, or you can spend a few hundred dollars and purchase a four-track recorder and record it yourself at home. This way is the most economical and you can use it later on in your career. Take your demo, photo flyer and a cover letter place them in a nice business folder and there you have it, a press release kit.

Be patient, jobs won’t pop up over night, but with each job be professional and courteous. Believe me, club owners and managers will remember and invite you back.

What! You don’t want to spend your evenings in a coffeehouse banging your heart away on an old guitar, but you would love to pass your knowledge of music on. Well, you could be a teacher. That’s right, people will pay good money to learn the art of music. If you have the patience you could begin to give lessons. Considering you can charge anywhere from ten to twenty dollars per half-hour lessons it is well worth the time. The key is to know your limitations. If you’re not a virtuoso then only give lessons to beginners and intermediate players don’t take on Eddie Van Halen.

Of course you could be one of those poor, tortured souls known as the songwriter. You don’t want to perform or give lessons you just want to write songs. Well, believe it or not there's hope for you as well. You will need to purchase some recording equipment such as a four-track recorder and a good microphone. Record four of your best tunes and start shaking the bushes, but remember approach is everything. You can’t just send your demo tape to every record producer and publisher in the nation, because they will not accept unsolicited material.

Have no fear; there is a way. Go down to your local bookstore and purchase The Songwriter's Market. In this book is the key to all your musical fantasies. Well, not really, but it is a great place to find publishers willing to listen to your material. It is very important to follow the submission guidelines of the publisher you wish to contact, but as a general rule this is how it is done.

Write a business letter to the publisher stating your name and the style of music you are selling. In the envelope place a custom made, stamped, self-addressed postcard. On the postcard have a place where the publisher can either check off his decision to either accept your submission or deny it. After all, the publisher is not going to take the time to buy a stamp and reply to the hundreds of submissions he or she receives every day. The easier you make it the better your chances of getting heard. Once you receive an acceptance place your demo tape, cover letter and a copy of the lyrics in a padded envelope and send them on their merry way. The rest is up to the publisher.

So there you have it. You can do one or all of these techniques. It’s up to you. You may not become rich but at least you followed your heart, and that’s worth more than money.