Even if you’ve only been in music school or working in the music industry for five seconds, it’s easy to figure out that it’s pretty difficult to make money doing music when you’re just starting out, especially if you’re still in school. But, despite its challenges, it’s best not to wait until you’ve graduated to try and jumpstart your working career as a musician. As soon as I started my studies at LACM, I began trying to find ways to apply what I was learning outside of school to start building a career in music. Unfortunately it was hard to find a lot of gigs performing my pop music or original music that weren’t “pay to play,” but I realized there was a need for quality, laid-back jazz music in the local area at restaurants, bars, and even festivals. And, coincidentally, I realized this at the same time that I was beginning to perform jazz for the very first time at school.

The circumstances were ideal – I wanted to keep singing jazz and learning more about it through performing, I had friends who also loved playing jazz, we had at least 2 hours worth of repertoire of songs we learned from our EW classes, and I knew there were gigs out there if I went looking for them. I got a few friends together with an idea to form a small jazz trio – Kira & The Major 3. From there, I sought out different restaurants, coffee shops, and other venues who were looking for live music to play that would entertain customers without disrupting them – and we were the perfect fit! We started booking at least 2 paid gigs a month, and I finally had my first steady gig. But, to keep this up, I knew that I had to put in the time to keep our group looking professional and keep putting our name out there. Of course, as a student, I didn’t (and still don’t) have the budget to hire a manager, booking agent, or any sort of band team – it was all up to me. This was a learning experience not only to gain skills to perform and learn about music – but to learn how to wear many hats at once in a band. Yes, I’m the singer and yes I put the charts together, but I also send out all the e-mails to book gigs, design and update the website and posters, and manage our relationships with venues. One of the best ways to be successful in the industry is to have an extremely diverse set of skills – since I’ve started this group, I’ve not only become a better jazz singer and arranger, but I’ve become a student and working musician that stands out by developing the skills to manage a group and create gig opportunities for myself and for others.

Before I started school at LACM, I had never even really thought about singing jazz – now most of my monthly income from live gigs comes from jazz, and it’s one of my favorite genres to perform. You never know if you might love something or find success in something until you dive into it headfirst, and I’m glad I did that by starting this group. It doesn’t always have to be difficult finding “the gig” out there – you just have to know where to find it and be willing to learn how to get it.

By Kira Morrison