Hi Mike!

What advice can you give on a) what skills a keyboardist should be proficient in to be ready for a major tour and b) how to land such a gig?


Hi Tim,

You need to be an excellent player who can function in many styles of music by ear and by reading charts. The most important things, though, are less obvious.

You need to know the music of the artist that you’re auditioning for before you set foot in the door. It’s a waste of everyone’s time to show up at an open audition unprepared. You should have a general idea of the artist’s “look” and dress appropriately. Don’t be late and don’t run your mouth about all the stuff you’ve done; just get your gear set up, nail the parts and the sounds, and remember to not overplay. I’ve seen great musicians do this and lose a gig that they could’ve grabbed with a little more discipline. Once the audition is over, give the musical director your contact information and move on. They’ll call you if you’re what they’re looking for.

Once you get the gig, nail the parts exactly like the record. Only then can you expect to take liberties with the music – if the artist allows it. It’s disrespectful to play stuff that is not appropriate to the style of the artist just because you have chops.
Treat the gig in a professional manner. I repeat – do not ever be late. At rehearsals or TV shows, between songs, resist the temptation to jam, especially when other people are working. Once again, always be prepared for the music. If you have your “chemical issues” under control, fine – but be careful, because it’s not worth losing a gig over, and if you’re stupid enough to try transporting your “chemicals” across state or country lines and get caught, you’ll be dragging down the entire production. There is no faster way to get fired. In this business, once you get your first gig, other gigs will come to you via word of mouth, so you really don’t want a reputation for being late, or being stupid with drugs. Just work hard and keep your mouth shut and you’ll get plenty of work.

There is no definite “want ads” way to find openings in tours. Without being annoying, try to network with other musi¬®cians who have the gigs you want. Keep your eyes on the trade magazines to see who is coming out with a new CD or a new tour. Send resumes, brief and to the point, to management of artists that you feel you are a good fit for you musically. Explain (again very briefly) why you would be good for their artist.

On my website is a list of trade magazines and resources for finding gigs:

99 percent of getting the gig is luck, but 100 percent of keeping the gig is being professional and doing the best job you can.

Good luck!


Mike McKnight Sounds Inc.

34145 Pacific Coast Hwy, Suite #302
Dana Point, CA 92629