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Discussion Starter #1
I’d like to try to get a local gig with a quartet or quintet, at a cafe or other casual venue. I play in a regular jazz workshop now, but would love to play for an audience and have even more incentive to improve.

It seems like it would help to have a demo recording— yes?

If so, should I go to expense of a recording studio or use my Roland R-07?

Once recorded, should I post recordings somewhere like SoundCloud or make a CD?

How many tunes to record — maybe 3?

Thanks for any advice.
 

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A demo recording is definitely a good idea. Here’s what works for my band, for which I am in responsible for recording, mixing and uploading. You can adapt to suit your equipment needs and budget. Try it with what you have now and you can always go to the expense of a recording studio later.
I use a Zoom H6 and record 6 channels, mix and add adjust volume and maybe add some reverb or compression in Audacity. I do mix down to a .wav file which is then sent up to SoundCloud. We then can all critically review (some are pretty ugly first takes or whatever) our songs we did in practice during the week between rehearsals. Some of the recordings come out pretty decent, experimental nt, so I add those to a SoundCloud playlist I created called “Head Gaskets demo”. Then a link to it or a search of that on SoundCloud can lead anyone interested to it. My MacBook doesn’t have a CD burner, it is amazing how quickly that format is losing popularity for many others as well. I also have the ability to switch up or replace tracks based on feedback from listeners or if something better comes along. My skill in recording (studio set-up, micing, setting levels and all) and mixing has come along slowly but is definitely improving. It makes for better rehearsals when the gang knows “the tape is rolling”.
 

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I'm a bit confused . . . what is your goal with a demo recording? Do you intend to attract other musicians to join with you OR are you trying to have something to furnish to potential employers who would consider hiring your combo?

Back in the day, our trad jazz band had a steady every-week gig where folks who were interested in hiring us could come and listen to us live. We also had vanity-recordings (on 33 1/3 LP's -vinyl) that we could furnish, if necessary. Wow, that sure dates me, eh? DAVE
 

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In my experience with clubs, private parties, concerts and festivals, if it's not on Youtube it might as well not exist. Even if it's with a montage of photos instead of video, put it on Youtube.
 

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I’d like to try to get a local gig with a quartet or quintet, at a cafe or other casual venue.
If you want to play with others, you've got to network, sit in if you can, go to jazz jams, go to jazz gigs and get to know the local players and the tunes they play, make friends with them, let them know you'd like to play, find other players to rehearse with, put an ad on craigslist or whatever local media there are, get out there and be on the scene. I don't think a recording helps at all unless you're also out there meeting people and letting them know you're looking for a gig. If you want a demo of your playing, a Youtube video is the best thing. Make friends with other local musicians on Facebook and post your video there.
 

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I just noticed you're in San Francisco. There are some jazz jams around town. Seek them out and go there every time. Get up and play. Meet the other jammers. Form a jazz group out of those players.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks very much for the replies, really helpful.

To clarify, I do play with a group of rotating players and get invited to the occasional casual gig. But I'd like to be more proactive myself about getting the gigs, rather than waiting for invites. Many years ago, I got a few gigs simply by walking into a cafe and talking to someone. My impression is that times have changed and demo recordings are more important now. I'd love to be wrong, though.

I'm kind of sorry to hear Youtube may be the way to go, since it seems more daunting than a recording.

Regarding SF jams, I went to the jam run by Vince Lateano at the 7 Mile House last week. Wow, that was great! But I ate dinner and listened; need to screw up the courage to sit in . . . .
 

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My impression is that times have changed and demo recordings are more important now. I'd love to be wrong, though.
I think you might be wrong, but that's just my opinion and experience. I think it may depend a lot on what you do with the recording. I'm not a jazz guy, I'm old skool blues, rock, R&B, soul, funk. But the way I've been able to be in bands or recruit other players to be in my band is to be out there on the scene, especially at jams. Noboy ever asked for or listened to recordings or CDs. But if there's a video on Facebook, I'll watch it and I'll post videos of my bands.

I'm kind of sorry to hear Youtube may be the way to go, since it seems more daunting than a recording.
Actually, I think it's less daunting. People accept all kinds of low quality videos and poor audio. The next time you're playing with your compadres, have somebody video you and the group with your cell phone, then edit it later to get a 30 second sample. Or just take 30 second clips. People won't watch long videos – 30 seconds is enough. And if you don't get something you're wiling to post the first time, try again, then try the next time you're playing with friends.

Regarding SF jams, I went to the jam run by Vince Lateano at the 7 Mile House last week. Wow, that was great! But I ate dinner and listened; need to screw up the courage to sit in . . . .
The 7 Mile House is a nice, relaxed venue. If that's a regular jam, keep going there. Learn the tunes that they call repeatedly and practice them. Then when you get up to play in the jam, call those tunes and PLAY.
 

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Actually, I think it's less daunting. People accept all kinds of low quality videos and poor audio. The next time you're playing with your compadres, have somebody video you and the group with your cell phone, then edit it later to get a 30 second sample.
A good Youtube video is a must in So Cal.
I also agree a video is probably way more important than just audio. If it is just, then that's one tick in the negative box for trying to get a gig so your image and stage performance are crucial to overcoming the non-commerciality of the music.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks again for the replies. It sounds like it's good I didn't run to a recording studio.

If anyone has Youtube videos they might use for demo purposes that they don't mind sharing, I'd love to see examples.
 

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Well, there are several videos of my Wall Of Blues band over the years on Youtube (search on Wall Of Blues Pacifica) but I don't think that's what you want. I've seen a lot of videos of sax players playing to backing tracks. Sometimes they're pros demonstrating something, sometimes they're trying to sell the horn, sometimes they're just people wanting to show their playing. I think that's more what you want. Search for the SOTW thread on Aubra Graves to find amateur videos of an old gentleman playing to backing tracks with absolutely wonderful tone and technique. Or just search Youtube on Aubra Graves.

Setting up a backing track and the video recorder and audio may seem daunting but once you've got it dialed in you can do take after take until you get something you like and are willing to let other people see. I see videos like this posted on Facebook fairly often, not just on Youtube.
 

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YouTube is a great platform for showcasing your music because you can have everything in one place - audio, video, interviews, and all of the info can be in the description (including links to anything else you want people to know/see).

Don't be afraid of putting things up there! Just give it a nice title, clear description, and put up anything you want. I've gotten so many messages from people through my videos - it's so much easier for someone to click a link and check out your channel as opposed to popping in a CD (whats'a CD?!?) or just having audio files in an email.

Let me know if you decide to start your own channel, I'd be glad to help out!
 

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We played a Halloween gig dressed as Men In Black that proved popular, so we marketed it as Band In Black, playing American Songbook. I made this from recordings in clubs with a digital mini recorder, with photos that people posted to Facebook, put together with iMovie on a Mac, at essentially no cost. Wish I'd had more photos of the singers! We weren't after showing what awesome players we were as much as showing pretty much what you'd get if you booked us. It's not pro video, you get what you pay for.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_EYOrrwFV8
 

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I made this from recordings in clubs with a digital mini recorder, with photos that people posted to Facebook, put together with iMovie on a Mac, at essentially no cost.
This is another approach that can work well – use stills and clips of your playing from different sources. Again, people don't see or hear quality in videos as much as they get a general impression. And the video doesn't have to be very long. If you can record some of your playing with backing tracks on your cell phone and find some pix and put those together, you too can have a Youtube video.

Here's a video for my band that's put together from some audio tracks from different sources with still pix of the band, posters, and even a bunch of pix that have nothing to do with the band at all (and they're even repeated later in the video). It's way too long at over 8 minutes. I think 2 minutes is more than enough. I've made a series of short videos for a research project that I run. One of the things we've learned is that people don't pay attention to videos after a couple of minutes ... or less. Welcome to Short Attention Span Theatre.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr2kJZQYbGE
 

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If you want to play with others, you've got to network, sit in if you can, go to jazz jams, go to jazz gigs and get to know the local players and the tunes they play, make friends with them, let them know you'd like to play, find other players to rehearse with, put an ad on craigslist or whatever local media there are, get out there and be on the scene. I don't think a recording helps at all unless you're also out there meeting people and letting them know you're looking for a gig. If you want a demo of your playing, a Youtube video is the best thing. Make friends with other local musicians on Facebook and post your video there.
Agreed... I've been involved with many band demos - These days If you're going to buy time, the finished product should be broadcast ready - otherwise stick with your home recorder. I'm not sure anybody even listens to demos anymore. They're more likely to listen / watch a you tube recording, but unless it's something special, even that won't land you much work. Find someone looking for a sax player and audition or hit the local open mic / jam...Good luck!

EDIT: I see I'm late to the party and many folks already offered the same advice...
 

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My current experience with getting NYC gigs for my own band is: 1) the booker for the venue wants a link to your music (bandcamp, soundcloud); & 2) a link to your social media account(s) to see how many followers you have and see what you look like; 3) no one has asked me for a video (thankfully, as my videos are the weak link - none are good.)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
This thread has been hugely helpful. I appreciate the demos — great playing! — and now have something to aspire to with the YouTube channel. It actually looks fun. Thanks, Dave, for the offer to help set it up, I may circle back to take you up on that later - thanks!
 

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One other way I've found useful is take a lesson from a local pro. I did that when I moved up to Sonoma county from SF and the pro stopped me half way through the lesson and asked if I would sub for him at gigs he couldn't make. I've gotten gigs for many many teachers and contacts also. K
 
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