Be not afraid of growing slowly,
be afraid of standing still.
– Chinese proverb
Instead of thinking about climbing the corporate ladder, it is more relatable to think of our professional growth as ever-widening circles of influence. We all begin in our hometowns; dreaming of bright lights in far away places. It takes a lot of performances to make it to those exotic locales. Seemingly less glamorous is the part of the journey just beyond our hometowns into the surrounding region. Expanding your reach is your Day 24 challenge.
Audience development and gratitude is extremely important for furthering your career. Before venturing out into the wide world, reassess your home base fans. A quarterly email to your local fans inviting them to your upcoming gigs is a great tool. Do not spam your fans, though. You can increase your subscribers by being accessible and friendly at your performances. Get to know the people that are attending and what music they enjoy or how often they support local classical music. Remember that the ripples closest to the dropped stone are the strongest.
Your goal in becoming a regionally known opera singer is to nights your relationships in those first few ripples. Here are a few suggestions.
Build upon your existing relationships. Why cold call when you don’t have to? If you have developed relationships with impresarios, music directors, presenters, or conductors, get recommendations or contacts of their counterparts nearby.
Ask your networks for recommendations. Ask your friends and colleagues for their opinions regarding good venues and opportunities. Classical singers can often be a little guarded when it comes to this information, for some reason, so if you’re sending defensiveness – back off.
Keep your travel costs in check. Know the range in which you are comfortable paying for travel, if it isn’t covered. Lots of rehearsals over an hour away can really deplete a bank account but so can hotels.
Invite your fans and patrons. Let your biggest fans know about gigs locally and regionally. Depending on their commitment, they may travel to see you or pass on the info to their contacts in the area.
Select your next market strategically. Consult your macro-level plans and projects to perform in venues/companies that will be advantageous to your career. Plus, a city or town that can provide coverage from media sources is desirable.
Plan multiple dates. Once you have taken the time to build these relationships, do not let them languish. Plan frequent returns while setting up the first gig or immediately after the initial performance.
Being in the right place at the right time is the irony of success. By developing your audience beyond your hometown, you can increase your chances of being in that transformative place. Creating your own buzz can really help you secure more and more gigs.