Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

What’s in it For Them?


You’re a stone cold musician. You love playing your instrument, (or singing) practicing, writing, doing gigs…it fills your soul and it’s your life’s purpose.

(That’s kind of how I have felt since I was a kid…)

Maybe you even go to music school and get a degree. You work hard and make a CD and now you are ready to tackle the world.

After that, the “great scroll of your life’s plan”  does NOT come down from the heavens to present you with a step by step fairty tale of a music career.  Now what?

The work starts…the “hustle” – finding gigs, making contacts, paying the rent, maybe teaching a little, playing gigs here and there – restaurants, maybe a wedding…who knows…

I’ve been there.

As musicians, we all need to ask ourselves “what’s in it for them?”  Answering this simple question changes everything.

We all want to do “our thing” but to get paid and have a happy, joyous musical existence – we must provide value.  Someone must benefit from what we do.

If you are trying to “make it”  (I love putting that in quotes)  you can’t just indulge in “your thing” and hope that things will magically work out….you have to:

  • Give your listeners a great experience (musically, visually, socially)
  • Give the venue / club / promoter a reason to hire you – i.e. they need to sell something like tickets, drinks, food, merchandise – in order to justify paying you.

I always find it funny how musicians balk at the idea of playing weddings, parties, and also giving music lessons.

In both of those cases – it’s so clear! You are providing value and getting paid for it.  It is worth noting that when you provide value, you get paid!  That’s worthy of a celebration in my book.

Remember – even much of Bach’s music served a purpose  (church gigs, weddings and teaching.)

I see so many musicians out there struggling because they completely overlook how they can “give value” to their customers.

For example:

Joe Music Man spends 99% of his time down the rabbit hole of musical study and expression, writing, recording & cd pressing (which is great).  It costs money and time…

Then when the rent is due, Joe Music Man spends  1% of the time dealing with his business model – and says “it’s hard, unfair and criminal that I have no gigs – and furthermore that musical retard Ms. So-and-So does…”

Chances are that if Ms. So-and-So is “making it”  – she is providing value with their music to the person paying them, moreso that Joe Music Man.  Like it or not, it’s probably true.

This is not to say she’s more talented.  She’s providing more value (probably by getting more people down to her gigs.)

Czech it out!  It’s GOT to be an exchange – you give value and get something in return.

Always ask yourself “what’s in it for them?”

Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

4 thoughts on “What’s in it For Them?

  1. Adam, thanks for the tips on value and giging. Your such an encouragment and inspiration to so many players…your out there doing it! You are the man! You and Tommy Emmanuel are the bomb! (bombs, for correct english)

  2. Thanks for your mail. Thank you for your advice. Thanks for the inspiration and guidence. Thanks for your sharing , but most of all for been such a nice guy.

  3. It is so great reading about musicians who get it, but are still true to their music, their sound, and their listeners. I went to high school with Danton. Still have him on a demo tape from ’95 in my car. Great to hear him playing.

  4. You’re so right!

    People aren’t interested in hearing YOUR music- they’re interested in the value that THEY get from it. Its like the difference between constantly talking about yourself (playing your own music), or teaching someone something (providing value).

    Many musicians overlook this very fact, and then can’t understand what they’re doing wrong!

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