Interview with musician Mary Kastle, part 2

If you’re trying to reinvent your consulting business or start a new one, it’s important to realize the wide variety of  consulting business ideas available. Open your mind, if you want to Discover Your Inner Consultant.

In part one of my interview with musician Mary Kastle, we discussed how she got into the music business and what she does as part of her job. It’s important to understand that the performing business involves more than "just" writing and playing music. This time, I ask how a musician is like a consultant.

Interview with Mary Kastle, part 2

How is being a musician like being a consultant?

I think to be successful you constantly have to assess the needs of the people you’re working for, which in a musician’s case is the audience, the talent buyer, the venue, and even yourself.

It all starts with the talent buyer at the venue you’re trying to book into. They are mainly concerned with whether you will be able to draw a crowd and whether your music is suitable for their venue. I think you have to be a good listener and try to put yourself in their shoes. If they are really concerned with filling the place, you might have to explain all the different ways you’re going to promote the show or even suggest alternative ways to bring people in, like get a local musician to do an opening set.

Before I even walk onstage, I pay attention to who’s coming into the audience and what type of music is playing on the stereo. When I’m performing, I’m obviously there to perform my own music but if I see the crowd getting restless I’ll throw in a cover tune, something familiar that gives their mind a rest from trying to absorb new music. If it’s a younger crowd, I might throw in something fairly current, like a Pearl Jam tune or some rock ‘n roll thing they can groove to. If it’s an older crowd I might play Elton John or Simon & Garfunkel that’s more from their era.

Recently I’ve started to think about where the industry is at and how I can fit in to that without totally compromising my artistic integrity. For instance, the bands really making it these days are largely in the indie-rock genre so I need to figure out how I can appeal to that market without totally changing my sound. What is it that people love about the Arcade Fires and Hot Hot Heat’s of the world?

Finally, I also work for the artist inside and have to almost separate myself from that side of me to assess what the artist needs to keep creating. When you’re trying to get the business side of things going on, it can be very encompassing and take a lot of mental energy. I need to pay attention to the (sometimes dim) voice inside that needs to have time to just explore concepts, play without the clock ticking, and create freely to develop new ideas. 

Next week: part 3 of Consultant Journal’s interview with Mary Kastle.

Part 1: interview with musician Mary Kastle