Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Wedding Industry Awards 2013 - Voter Comments and Scores.

As I'm sure most of you know, earlier this year I was nominated by one of my lovely couples for a 2013 Wedding Industry Award in the 'Best Live Music' category.

The awards are totally independent and the initial, shortlisting stage of the process is conducted based on solely votes and scores from the previous 12 months' brides and grooms from the period of 1st November 2011 to 31st October 2012.

Last month the catogery was narrowed down from 5 to just two shortlisted acts - myself and the fantastic Nero String Quartet.

Unfortunately 'Nero'were victorious in our region. However, to soften the blow somewhat, I was sent all of my voter scores and comments.

I received a total of 51 votes, representing one vote per couple. To say I was blown away from what my clients had to say about me was an understatement! So much so that I had to share all my comments and scores in a blog post.

Firstly my scores. Voters were asked to score me on 1 to 10 in various categories. My results, as an average score across all the voters, were as follows:

1. Range of options (eg: sound, lighting and musical styles) made available by this supplier: 9.73/10
2. Quality of expertise, advice and guidance received from this supplier: 9.65

3. Quality of customer service and communication received from this supplier: 9.73
4. This supplier’s punctuality and personal presentation on the day of your wedding: 9.98

5. Quality of this supplier’s web presence (web site, facebook etc): 9.76
6. Quality of the musical entertainment provided: 9.92
7. Value for money: 9.73

Obviously the key question here is 'Quality of the musical entertainment provided'. I was really happy to score a 9.92 for this!

Now for the voter comments. These have been sent to me anonymously and are presented in complete and unedited form and are responses to two questions: 1) General comments (why do I deserve to win an award) and 2) Why they booked:

General Comments (in random order):

“James Barlow was a professional throughout the planning of our wedding music and on the day itself. He was accommodating, friendly and we were delighted that he played all of our chosen songs as agreed beforehand. His own singing was excellent with guests saying he sounded like the actual artists.”

“James' professionalism throughout our dealings with him could not be disputed. Brilliant communication and client care. Entertainment wise James was amazing. Fantastic choice of songs performed to the highest standard. The floor was filled all night and everyone wants to know where we found him.”

“James was very professional and we were very happy with the service he provided. His singing voice was excellent and we received amazing feedback from our guests saying how much they enjoyed his singing.”

“James was very personable and reassuring during our conversations prior to the wedding day. On the day he was very professional and added to the atmosphere of our wedding day.”

“Using James Barlow as a combined MC, DJ & wedding singer was a great decision. James provided a first class service from initial enquiry to his performance on the day. He was sympathetic to our requirements, played all the music we love & his vocals were absolutely fantastic. Our guests were amazed!”

“From the first time I spoke to James it was clear what a professional set up he has.. James made the booking process & run up to our wedding stress free. He was the perfect end to our wonderful day.”

“From our first contact with James until the actual day of our wedding the experience was spot on. Good communication, clearly an expert in his field. He guided us through everything and we felt completely comfortable leaving the evening in his hands. He got everything spot on.”

“We simply could not find any area in which James Barlow could be faulted. From his range of available music to his totally falwless delivery, there is absolutely no one we would have rather had on our special day. This is also a sentiment shared whole heartedly by our guests. Absolutely brilliant.”

“James was brilliant - he provided the perfect entertainment on such a perfect day. James was considerate to all my guests and accommodated everybody's musical preferences, Just perfect.”

“Website very good, full of info. Easy to contact James, always responds quickly. Turned up at the arranged time, and entertained everybody all evening with an amazing playlist. He has an amazing voice- a true talent!! He fullfilled all our requests. Hiring James was one of the best decisions we made”

“So much possitive feedback from all our our guests and venue.”

“james barlow is an amazing singer and entertainer. we was really looking forward to him singing at are wedding and never expected him to be as amazing as he was. he wowed all are guests& defo best money spent of the whole day”

“James offered the complete entertainment package. He arrived on time and was set up ahead of schedule. He sang our first dance perfectly and his live singing and disco sets kept the dance floor full all night. All the guests commented on how good he was, he really made our reception extra special”

“James was amazing. There was nothing that he could have done to make his performance any better. We had an amazing evening, his live singing was superb and several guests commented that they had to check to see if it was an original recording playing or James's rendition- he was that good.”

“James was absolutely fantastic he was extremely professional, very smart, and has a fantastic personality. His quality of entertaining is second to none which got him a booking at our friends wedding 2 months later. I would undoubtebly book James again for any occasion he is brilliant, great value.”

“James was amazing! He was punctual, well presented and incredibly talented!! Our guests were blown away! He was versatile enough to cover a wide selection of songs, and was more then capeable of smashing them! We trusted his ability so much, we asked him to sing our first dance song! Amazing man!”

“We were really impressed, from the moment we first contacted James he was so professional & helpful & on the day were so happy with how he kept the dance floor busy, played all the songs we requested & sang fantastically! He also helped my husband & I perform secret songs for each other!”

“James was fantastic i am writing this on behalf of my son Joe Bateman and his wife Hollie they both have Down Syndrome and as you guess they married in August. A few of their friend's also have problem's James was so good he had the time to make them all feel special when he sang .They all loved him”

“The booking, pre-wedding organisation and quality of the entertainment were flawless and superb. We gave James very little guidence on music selection and he judged our guests perfectly. We've had nothing but positive comments from everybody about the quality of the evening entertainment.”

“James arrived on the day on time, and set up without interrupting myself and the bride (as we had casino tables on the day to), he was an amazing singer who tailored his music at the time to the crowd was very warm and pleasing to deal with. I was really glad we booked him for our special day.”

“James Barlow was a true professional from start to finish. He was the only part of my wedding that I didn't have to do a thing apart from book him. He entertained a varied age group and was totally amazing. I left the song choices in James's hands and he was great.”

“Jamie has a wealth of experience in wedding entertainment so gave us great advice & guidance. We gave him a short playlist he then picked additional songs that worked with our choices creating a top mix of old & new music - something for everyone. All the guests thought his singing sets were amazing”

“AMAZING!! James helped to make our day even better than perfect. From the minute we enquired with our booking James made it all stress free, his communication & customer service was exceptional! A beautiful voice and a fabulous entertainer! Just AMAZING James..thank you so much!”

“The best there is! Our guests and venue were so impressed with James. The whole process was made easy by him and he made our wedding feel personal, not one of many. An incredible performer and he learnt our first song especially for us, as it wasn't one of his usual ones. Would definitely book again”

“James was nothing but professional,polite,and timely with all correspondence.He arrived earlier than usual to accommodate our venue,helped hand out gifts during my speech,and had the dance floor full from start to end with all ages.Everyone kept saying afterwards how good James' singing was.”

“James was absolutley fantastic and helped to make my wedding day absolutely perfect! He was so prompt getting back to me with any query i had and nothing was to much trouble. James has a fabulous voice and and all my guests fell in love him. He has left me with some amazing memories of a fab day.”

“James is a very professional singer. The quality of his voice and performance is second to none. l suppose like a lot of people on their weddind day, I just wish it could have lasted longer.”

“James was very organised and took a lot of potential stress away from us. He was professional at all times and clearly knew what he was doing.”

“We wanted a singer who also DJ'd aswell. Finding one was difficult! We came across singers who appeared a little 'dated' and slightly 'cheesy'.On the day he was professional, polite, discreet (when singing during meal) which we wanted, full of energy and brilliant vocals! Great selection of songs.”

“From start to finish James was professional and a credit to the industry. Never felt like we would be let down. Arrived promptly and delivered exactly what was promised. First class performer.”

“This guy is an amazing singer, but more importantly wedding singer i say that because from the booking to the detailed selection of songs we wanted him to sing especially the service he offers to sing your chosen first dance, he performed and communicated to the highest standard, he is the best.”

“Booking a singer was actually near the bottom of our list but we can honestly say it made our day. James was friendly and professional from initial enquiry through to the end of the amazingly sung last dance. He even learnt our 1st dance song especially for us. I cannot thank James enough. Amazing.”

“We were very impressed with James. I am a bit of a 'control freak' so emailed James alot. He responsed to every email almost straight away, always assuring me and keeping me calm. Our guests loved the night time - we had a full dance floor almost all evening!”

“I was so happy with James, nothing was too much trouble for him, amazing singer, organised, excellent value for money. So many people said on the night that he was so good, he selected perfect songs all night long. Over the moon with him, would recommend him to every bride to be !”

“Couldn't fault James, from enquiry to the big day.”

“Everyone who attended were very pleased with the performance and the choices of music. All communications prior were easy, he was ready promptly for the arrival of our evening guests and helped the evening run smoothly. One slight misunderstanding about payment lead to slighly lower score.”

“We were very pleased with James' performance and DJ-ing on our wedding day. All guests thoroughly enjoyed the evening do and the dancefloor was full for most of the night. We thought it was great to have our first dance song sung live and to have all the lighting effects and bubbles too.”

“When first contacted we had nothing but honesty and total first class service. Your demo CD was compehensive and thorough. After you sang at our wedding reception, it was like someone was playing the CD. your performance was brilliant. you made the room full with you songs.sung with passion & pride.”

“We can not fault James Barlow in any way. He made our wedding evening absolutely perfect. James is truly talented and his professionalism was present from our initial enquiry to the end of the evening. Our guests were blown away by his performance and wide range of song choice that pleased everyone.”

“James offers a package that included all that we needed. James is easy to deal with as he is very professional and we nevered had a moments worry. We all were amazed by him as he is an excellent singer/performer and entertained us all afternoon/evening. James thoroughly deserves this award, :) bride”

“Played during our wedding breakfast and a great selection of songs for all guests at evening reception. The dance floor was always full of guest enjoying his preforance. James sang our first dance which was an unforgetable touch and different from other artists. I would highly recommend James.”

“We had the most perfect wedding and the evening reception was seamless! The choice of music was excellent, James was very personable and accommodated our last minute requests without hesitation. Each and every guest we spoke to after the wedding said that James was 'awesome' and we agree! Great guy!”

“James was everything we had hoped for and more.”

“James Barlow is outstanding, his performances were of a high standard and he made our wedding reception out of this world. We have had a lot of positive comments from other guests we are really impressed with the quality of his work. He listens to exactly what you want and gives advice when needed”

“Very professional. Excellent performer. Perfect for our wedding day”

“James was a true professional and helped add the special touches that make us smile each time we think about our wedding. James tailored his playlist and live singing with songs that were special to us. We can't thank him enough for providing us with memories that we'll treasure in our hearts always”

“James was great !!!! He definitely contributed in making our wedding day a memorable occasion. His singing was fantastic and we have had so many compliments from our guests of all ages expressing how they enjoyed the selection of James's music. Would definitely recommend James to others !!!!”

“James' ethos is to make it as painless for the client as possible, well he certainly lived up to it. He helped and guided us through each part of the organisation process allowing us to choose exactly what we wanted and how we wanted it presenting (different lights, smoke, music etc.).”

“Jamie showed great attention to detail prior to the wedding, checking song choices, types of music required etc. He sang our wedding song for us. My mum collapsed through illness on the day but Jamie lifted everyones spirits with his professionalism and great voice to still make it a memorable day.”

“From the moment that we first contacted James about our wedding we felt at ease. His customer service was excellent and even when I asked lots of questions and changed song choices this never felt like it was a problem for him. And above all he is a fantastic entertainer!!”

“His singing is outstanding, everything he sung sounded amazing from Michael buble to Amy whine house. He has great energy an always smiling, he kept the dance floor full all night. Ourselves and our guests loved it, a fab entertainer for a fab night.”

Why They Booked (in random order)

“Professional, organised, great singer and overall really nice guy, we could'nt ask for a better entertainer at our wedding.”

“The website initially attracted us to book James Barlow. We were impressed straight away with the overall presentation and information on the site including the demo section; where we were able to hear samples of songs immediately. The website also contains impressive testimonials from previous bride and grooms which portray James’s expertise and gave assurance of the excellent service. James also has a Facebook page which he regularly updates. We received a prompt reply from our initial enquiry with professional and friendly information plus a high quality demo CD which contained 'live' song recordings. We didn't hesitate to book after hearing the professional quality of James’s voice. James’s wide selection of song choice, including our first dance song was also impressive. Prior to the wedding, communication was excellent and we were informed of timings, set lists etc. James Barlow's service was excellent value for money. Not only did James sing live, he also provided a fantastic disco in which we were able to give him a list of requested songs prior to and during the night. James has the whole package with his personal presentation, talent and expertise.”

“We did extensive research on the Internet as we did not have anyone to give us a personal recommendation. Having reviewed dozens of sites we found James's one of the most accessible. Even better there was a good selection of examples of his singing which made it very easy to decide we liked what we heard. What really 'sold' us was his friendly approachable manner. Always prompt with his email or phone contact he sums up what we wanted form a professional wedding singer. He took the stress out of such an important part of the day and we were so amazed and thankful that he was prepared to learn our choice of 1st dance music so that he could sing for us. We would recommend James to anyone wanting a truly professional live singing experience for their wedding.”

“The other half wanted him and I obey.”

“Very professional & prompt repsonse, demo CD sounded fantastic & excellent reviews.”

“We liked his voice and the package he offered”

“Responded to all my emails and queries in good time. Really wanted to know what WE as a couple wanted. Good prices. Loved that he did singing AND the DJing later on in the evening.”

“James' website is great providing great information and insite to his services. James sent a promotional CD which was brilliant.”

“We wanted a live singer and a disco; James offered the complete package at great value.”

“From all the people we spoke to about our entertainment this guy was the best because his detailed entertainment package and demo and his communication with us was the reason we chose him, he knew what he was on about and with him being a singer and DJ he was very good value for money. His demo was fantastic and when he sang live at our wedding he just sounded like the artist themselves.”

“We booked James because of the Live singing aspect of his entertainment, we didn't just want a disco all night, we wanted the disco/Live singing mix. The packages he offered were reasonably priced and seemed to fit the bill perfectly. The sample music provided both from his website and via the sample CD he sent us in the post sounded great. Needless to say we were not disappointed, James made our and our guests night very special.”

“We didn't just want a DJ or just a singer Jamie is the perfect mix of the two. I would recommend Jamie to anyone looking for a singer/DJ that will appeal to all of their guests. Wedding planning can be very stressful so it was great to be able to relax knowing the entertainment was in such safe hands.”

“Clear costing, no hidden extras, enquiry was responded to without delay.”

“We booked James Barlow as he covered a very wide range of musical styles, give us the option to provide our guests a mixture of live music and disco. Plus he has an amazing voice and is very fairly priced. The perfect all round package in our opinion.”

“For the complete package / service he offered and the superb reputation he had already built up”

“We saw his reviews on the internet. He was approachable and good value for money. We really liked his demo CD and the range of music offered when he would be singing live.”

“I booked James after finding his website after I listened to him sing a favourite take that song of mine I knew he was the wedding singer for me! Outstanding :-)”

“We booked him obviously for our wedding his web page had everything we needed to be sure he was what we wanted especially after speaking to him.”

“We chose James for his variety of music and the variety of packages he offered. Our taste in music ranges from rat pack to classic pop with a mix of all time favorites - James was able to deliver everything we wanted. His website was excellent and the fact that we could sample his music before we booked was ideal. The feedback from his other guests was encouraging and he didn't fail to deliver on the night!”

“I have seen him perform at two weddings prior to mine and he has always left people with a spring in their step and a smile on their face, often people wanting him to perform for longer if only the venues had let him!! He compliments all of the hard work of planning the big day, he leaves everyone with happy memories and just a brilliant finish to an important day.”

“Good reviews on website”

“His website provided a lot of detail that I was looking for and it was easy to see that he would fit in at our wedding.”

“He was an all rounder - we liked the sound of his voice and the range of different genres he could do.”

“He was recommended by a different venue that we viewed. It was important to us that guests were kept happy and entertained and didn't end up congregating away from the dance floor! We were told James was the man for the job and he certainly did it. He also had a number of excellent recommendations on his website and sent us a demo CD, which made our decision even easier. We have attended other weddings with a usual DJ and weren't that impressed. James was a bit different to the traditional wedding entertainer and that is what we wanted.”

“He sent us a CD and we loved his voice, his reportaire of music and his expertise. I worry about everything but he ensured me he had the right music covered so I didnt have to worry! He played music on the night I never would have suggested but they went down perfectly! He knew his stuff!!”

“We listened to his on line demos and were able to see online quotes and reviews which left us in no doubt that her was the right wedding singer for us!”

“We booked James because of his informative and professional website and communication and client care on contact with him. We felt we could trust him 100% with our special day. We had never come across James before but his service levels and quality of singing made us want to book him straight away.”

“Because his demo cd was just what we wanted in terms of something to suit everyone & most importantly he sounded great!!!!”

“Because this wedding was so special it needed the right person and lucky for us we found him.”

“Based on the reviews from previous weddings - it was a total "no-brainer" for us!!”

“Liked James play lists, and that he could sing our first dance. James is not your normal wedding DJ, he is stylish, personal and offered a great wedding package to suit our requirments. The feedback from his preivous customers was great and I can now understand why.”

“Wedding entertainment”

“We firstly got in contact with James following extensive searches via the internet as we were highly impressed with his website. James was great when we spoke to him and couldn't do enough to help including the provision of a CD with some of his songs - his voice and obvious talent blew us away and from that moment on we knew that James would be perfect for our wedding day.”

“The reviews on his website were extremely good (and now we know why), and he does a full DJ set interspersed with his singing so you don't have to book a DJ separately. What he charges for all this is extremely reasonable.”

“We booked James because we liked the idea of having a live singer at our wedding but also wanted typical wedding DJ music too and he does both therefore it was quite good value and something a bit different. We had seen all the positive feedback on his website and decided to book him on this basis and after having heard his demo CD.”

“I have known about James for a long time and have heard his music. I quite simply thought that James' range of music, service & prices were the best for us.”

“He offered an all round package for a very reasonable price with lots of amazing comments on facebook.”

“I was impressed with his website, and his quick and detailed response via email. Seemed very professional which is why we ended up booking him.”

“we were impressed with the demo CD.”

“I liked the value for money and the info you got on the website was excellent, he had so many people give him great feedback, and when I did speak to him he was so friendly and helpful. Also the sample cd he sent me was excellent . Wouldn't change a thing he was fantastic.”

“Offered exactly what we were looking for in our price range”

“Great website, sent out great selection of his demo's for us to listen to, he had great reviews and he Was very reassuring, and always replied ASAP whenever we emailed him regarding any questions on song choices etc. made us feel very relaxed in booking him and I'm very glad we did, couldn't have asked for anything/ anyone better.”

“The package that he offered was of a high standard and the price was reasonable. The feedback on his blog is fantastic and when I spoke to him I knew I would book him straight away. Extremely helpful and polite and very professional. He really went out of his way to help us plan everything. we wanted some music mixing for a first dance and he helped us create it. With regular updates we knew exactly were we were with James. We are extremely grateful for everything”

“Value for money, range of entertainment available including live singing and DJ sets”

“The right price and a great selection of packages to choose from, he was flexible and talked us through exactly what we wanted to ensure we got what was right for us on the day.”

“The package we booked fulfilled all our wishes for a very resonable price. Listening to the demo CD finalised our decision. James has such an amazing voice!”

“A fantastic website!! We wanted live vocals and a DJ all in one”

“My sister had talked to James on several occasions and he seemed to be listening exactly to the requirements and was very eager to match them, as well as advise.”

“I wanted to give my bride and guests a fantastic reception to carry on from our great day. After finding James Barlow on a forum site, where mother of the bride was telling averyone just how good he was, I had to find out who he was and could I actually have a live singer at my wedding. After contactingJames, I knew I had the right person for the job. The total package was great value as James's expertese guided us through what he could do for us. To have a real singer, sing your favourite songs as though the original artist was actually there is a feat many so called singers fail at, but James carried this off remarkably. To summerise, If any person reading this, wants a first class, proffessional and amazing sounding wedding singer, they should look no further than James Barlow. Your services are 1st class and the whole package was dealt with as though I was the only one you had to deal with. Nothing seems to be too much trouble for you and I could not thank you enough. I know you'll go on to bigger and better things.”

“He answered all of our initial queries, provided good value for money, and was both a wedding singer and DJ, making our wedding entertainment that bit different to just having a disco.”

“we booked james barlow as all of his feedback on the internet left by other couples was amazing, but words cant explain really how good he really is!!! fantastic singer and performer and will defo be used in future from a few of are guests that are getting married in the next few yrs.”

Once again a huge thank you to everyone that tool the time to vote and leave such amnazing comments - I totally blown away!

James x

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Article in The Stage Newspaper.

I've written a guest article for this week's The Stage Newspaper - Nov 29th issue - out in shops now!

Whilst the printed article mainly offers advice to aspiring performers in how to deal with the quieter times of the year, I've included the full unedited article below which might be of interest to some of you. It contains a bit more of an in-depth look at how I started, and continue to run my business:

What for you are the skills performers need both performance wise and business wise to be successful in the function market? How did you first become involved in this field? What would you suggest a singer do who is interested in starting off in this area? Do you find there are slow periods and then busy periods and how do you cope with each?

I started out aged 17, performing in the pubs and clubs of Stoke on Trent with my then girlfriend as a duo. While certainly an excellent apprenticeship in performing to a vast range of people – more so to the often scary clientele of Stoke’s Working Men’s Clubs – we soon found that the private, function market was where nicer venues, gigs and richer pickings were to be found. After paying our way through our uni courses by doing lots of gigs, both our professional and personal relationship ended. With a few up-coming bookings, I decided to take them on a solo singer. Around this time, in 2002, I decided to re-brand as ‘The Wedding Singer’ – as a part cash-in on the popular film but also to aid me with the all-important search engine keywords for my web site. theweddingsinger.uk.com was born and at the time, was one of the very few web sites of its kind. Indeed booking and buying things over the internet was far from common place and the first conversations with brides and grooms on the day was often about the novel way in which I was discovered and booked! I’m happy to say that I’ve made very good living from singing, purely within the private function market, since finishing university and haven’t set foot in a pub or club (to sing!) since 2002 and more importantly I’ve managed to achieve my goal of avoiding the dreaded ‘proper job’!

As a completely independent singer, I do all my own accounting, marketing, admin, web designing and SEO work. 99% of my clients find me via my web site and I’ve never used an entertainments agency. I’d say the clerical side of my business is as important as the performance side, if not more so. You can be the best singer in world, but if you’ve got no gigs to go to – you have no business. I answer every phone call and reply to every e-mail quickly and professionally. The way you deal with wedding clients in particular is so important, you want to give them complete reassurance that you are the right person for the most important day of their lives. A badly worded, misspelt e-mail or an unprofessional phone call, maybe with dogs barking or children crying in the background, is all it takes to make you appear as something less than the complete professional they require.

For the performance side of my job, I would say there are three key areas of utmost importance: training, equipment, repertoire.

The best move I ever made as a singer was to start voice lessons. I study with a Speech Level Singing teacher and quickly realised that the voice is essentially a muscle that needs continued training. My voice has improved so much in terms of stamina, power and range in 6 years since I started having lessons.

Secondly, I invest heavily in making sure I have the best equipment. Not only does it help to keep me firmly at the higher end of the market, the renewal of equipment also adds that all important frisson of excitement to the job for myself; the trap of over-familiarity and complacency is an easy one to get caught in when you perform similar sets of covers week in, week out.

The third area of importance is all about the music. A mixture of common sense, trial and error and lots or experience help to find exactly which tracks work best in different scenarios and at different times of the day / evening of a function. This coupled with keeping things fresh by adding new tracks and of course, accommodating clients’ play list requests, is the key to a successful function.

I don’t have completely baron periods with no work, I only have 2 or 3 quiet months where I would still expect to book 4 or 5 weddings opposed to the 8 – 12 weddings I would look to book in the busier months. It’s important however to be well organised financially to not only compensate for the uneven revenue stream throughout the year, but to save up for the all-important January tax bill. I also make sure as well that I have enough in savings to cover the complete replacement of all my equipment and provision for replacing my van should the unthinkable happen.

As I work 99% of the time within the wedding market a quiet January, gigs-wise, is inevitable but not necessarily a bad thing. The Christmas and New Year period is the most popular time for marriage proposals, so most of my January is filled with dealing with enquiries from newly engaged couples. December is very quiet for taking new bookings as most people are thinking about, and saving up for, the festive season so they haven’t the time to do the research or the money for deposits. Therefore January is also the time where those who put their wedding planning off during December will start to book their suppliers. December is a very busy month for weddings surprisingly, I guess due to people being more likely to have time off work but also, I suspect, due to the number of people that search out better value out-of-season honeymoons in exotic destinations that are hot all year round.

Also, although I do very few non-wedding gigs, lots of businesses that are very busy over the festive period - those in the hospitality and retail sector in particular – actually wait until after Christmas to hold their Christmas parties, for which they obviously require entertainment. So there is potential for January work if you know where to look!

As I’ve said, I don’t really have very quiet periods of no work but when things aren’t looking as busy, I just intensify the following up of any current leads or enquiries. I make sure anyone who may have enquired within the last few weeks have no unanswered questions, and more importantly that they have actually received my responses to their enquiries in the first place. Email and even post doesn’t always reach its destination; there’s nothing worse than a client thinking you’ve forgotten about them when they just haven’t received what you’ve sent through! Also, I may look into attending a few local wedding fairs to promote my services – although this is something I largely avoid if possible due to the extra time and expense involved. Finally, I might put more effort into building relationships with local venues by finding out the name of the function and events manager and asking them to add my name to their list of recommended suppliers. Obviously the better any song demos or promotional material you provide them with are, the more likely they are to add you to their list of people to recommend. Saying how easy you are to work with and providing them with a few references from previous clients or venues would definitely help your cause.

What is the most useful piece of advice you have been given in your own career and by whom?

I think the most apt piece of advice I have received, and would pass on to others, comes from my old mate Winston Churchill - “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I’ve had periods of pessimism and optimism in my life and career, and certainly periods where I’ve both hated and loved the job. What I have learned over the last few years though, where I have really excelled and expanded the business, is that I have accepted more jobs and challenges than I ever had previously. Moreover, the challenges I have accepted, I’ve entered into with much more optimism and excitement and far less apprehension than in previous years. In the process I’ve learned that approaching something – a gig, e-mail, phone call, client meeting, radio/newspaper interview, magazine article – in a positive, ‘can do’ way produces far better results, leading to an upward spiral of confidence-boosting success!