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Mike Vial (Ann Arbor MI)

Solo performers Interview
Artist Name: Mike Vial
Date January 14, 2013
1. How long have you been performing publicly?

Since high school.  I’ve started performing regularly part-time since 2005. Then I left my teaching job to do music full time in the fall of 2011.  I’m an example of a musician who makes a living multiple ways, but mostly from playing as many gigs as possible.  I do recording session work, teach guitar lessons, tour, releases music, and play cover gigs.  Cover gigs are the work that feeds me; and my original songs/gigs are what fill my soul.

2. Do you use an agent, if so how did you get that rolling?

Honestly, the time to seek out a traditional booking agent is when your music is commanding $5000-10,000 a month.  I think musicians think they need an agent too soon, and don’t realize that anyone who is willing to work for little money, probably has little credibility of help that can really build an audience.  Plus, a musician needs to get go through the biz themselves before they can understand what someone does for them.

3. What do you use for equipment?

I use Taylor acoustic guitars for my gigging (but only Taylors with Fishman Stereo Blender pickups, ones made from 2001-fall 2003.) I have a Taylor 514ce, 710ce (tuned down a whole step) and 355ce.  For electric guitars, I use a Reverend Spy for gigs and Heritage 555 in the studio.  I also have a Fender strat (1994) that my mom and dad got me when I stuck with guitar lessons for six months.
My pedal board changes from time to time, but the constant effects on my board: Boss Tuner –Tube Screamer 808 reissue – Analogman Chorus – Boss Tremolo – Line 6 DL4 and a second Line 6 DL4.

4. Do you have any tips you can share as far as setting up your equipment for a gig?

Sure, when buying a smaller PA, I think two adages apply: less is more; have a back-up plan for things that break. This can be contradicting advice.

As a solo artist, you should be able to set-up your PA in 30 minutes or less.  As a new band that will do four bill line-ups and clubs, you need to be able to get set-up in 15 minutes. Practice this!

I also think someone should buy the best quality they can afford. Research what musicians that work a lot in the area are using.  Research the sound, functionality and price.  I use Mackie speakers for my gigs, and I honestly think Mackie’s are the best for those of us who play bars and restaurants of 100-200 capacity.

5. Do you have any advice for a person just getting into gigging that you would like to share?

When learning to sing, find your range and be aware of your limits and strengths. Too many people try to scream sing, and they kill their voices.  They sing songs that are too high for their ranges.  I bring a guitar tuned down a whole step.  I also transpose songs into other keys to fit my singing, often using a capo on the 6 or 7th fret.

When pitching to places by email, be as concise as possible.  People reading emails for bookings are swamped.  Honestly, no more than five sentences is needed.  Use a list of the important links.  Share links that streams of songs, never send MP3 files. (Don’t fill their email box capacity with your music. Let them stream it.)

Be realistic about draw.  Don’t get discouraged during early shows that have poor turn out. Remember, few people attend shows to see a new name they’ve never heard of it.  It takes a long time to break out, and constant work.

6. When you practice do you go through a P. A. or just you and your guitar?

Both. I sometimes rehearse my sets with a PA in my rehearsal space.  I also practice my effect pedal tones.

I also stress that there is a difference between practicing and rehearsing.  Practicing is doing stuff you can’t do.  Rehearsing is “reviewing” a set lit.  Too many guitar players stop practicing, and only jam or rehearse.

I recommend having a whiteboard and listing out specific goals for one, two or three month chunks.  I’ve attached a picture of my “goals” for a month of work.

Learn all about Mike and his music at http://mikevial.com
Mike, thank you for sharing your in site and your contribution to this blog…..  Tim Heenan