I’ve been on Craigslist to sell my stuff, to buy some more stuff, to hire people, to get odd jobs, etc. I’ve also been on Craigslist to network with musicians and get hired as a pianist. Is the ratio of time spent browsing ads to money made through gigs on Craigslist worth it? That’s highly debatable. We all know what Craigslist is all about and we also know that anybody can post an ad or reply to an ad, which makes it a less than desirable marketplace more often than not. Is the “Musicians” section really worth your time as an indie musician? Should you really browse through it or post in it or should you just concentrate your efforts somewhere else? It depends on your perspective of things.
From my original point of view, I thought Craigslist was a complete waste of time for serious musicians. I had the firm belief that everyone that was on there was your friend’s cousin’s little brother who wanted to start a garage band. Needless to say, I stayed away from anything music related on Craigslist for the longest time. I have a degree, after all! As time went by, I started finding a few more opportunities; I got hired as a musical director, accompanist and restaurant pianist through ads placed on Craigslist. However, these opportunities never really came from the so-called “Musicians” section, but more from anything in gigs and jobs. So what about the “Musicians” section? What’s on there?
There’s a lot. There’s a lot of unnecessary posts and, depending on your location, there’s a lot of weird and creepy ads, that’s for sure. But is it all a waste of time or can you actually rely on this posting section for certain things? Think about it: back in the 80’s, when the LA Sunset Strip was THE place to be for musicians, bands who needed a new member used to advertised in newspapers, magazines and boards in music store. When was the last time you picked up a newspaper or a magazine? My point exactly. With the digital age came a need to modify this procedure: enter Craigslist. If Guns N’ Roses was just starting in 2012 and needed a new guitar player, they’d most likely advertise on Craigslist, in the questionable “Musicians” section.
Tips on How to make Craigslist work for you
If you’re looking for a place to record, a producer, a new band member, a gig, anything at all, there might be a way to make Craig work for you. Of course you can spend hours browsing the ads on there and answering to the few that seem to cater to your particular needs, but you could also choose to post your own ad and see what comes up. I personally had much more success posting ads and waiting for replies than answering anything at all. Here are a few tips that seem to work best for anyone posting a musician ad on Craigslist – no matter what you’re searching for:
- Don’t include a link to your music or your name or your website or your phone number or anything that could identify you. Not only is it safer this way, but you’ll have leverage over who gets to hear what. For example, if you’re looking for a producer, just include a brief intro about yourself and what you do, without stating who you are. Anyone who replies to your ad will automatically ask for a link to your music, but at least you’ll know who they are since they’ll probably send you a link to their work or a resume in their reply. From there, you can sell your idea better to the producer of your choice and weed out the phonies without divulging who you are.
- Stay professional and write well. You NEVER know who’s browsing through and reading your ad. You want your ad to stand out and, if you’re posting in the “Musicians” section, trust me a bit of editing and respect of basic grammar will make you stand out. “Yo dawg if u digg my muzik lemme kno” is not a good idea.
- Don’t reply to generic replies. No matter what you posted for, if someone sends you a generic reply, chances are they don’t really care. That or they either consider themselves too busy to take 2 minutes to craft an original email. Pass. Next!
- Post regularly! It’s not because you don’t get anything interesting after your first post that you won’t get anything in a few days, or a few weeks. You can repost every 2 or 3 days without getting flagged, so take advantage of this and make sure that your ad can easily be found.
Of course Craigslist will always be a sketchy website to a certain extent and you should always be careful when you use the site. However, there are often great opportunities presented in the “Musicians” section and – even if you have to dig a little or post every other day for the next 3 months – it can certainly be worth it!
It’s also a great place to find clubs and bars looking for music entertainment. In the LA section for example, there are regular ads for local clubs looking to fill in spots last minute – if they are pay-to-play, you might be able to reduce the amount to pay or negotiate better conditions since you know they are desperately looking for someone good at this point. Use Craigslist to your advantage!