Interview: Kevin Murphy on Booking Gigs

Alexandra Pedro

Written by Alexandra Pedro

15 Oct 2021

6-minute read

I met Kevin Murphy as a productivity coach but, as you will see, there is so much more to him than productivity! Today we are going to focus on music. While Kevin is not actively pursuing a career in music, he often plays gigs in small venues to keep that side of him going. Since this type of gig is the first step for many aspiring musicians, I want to let Kevin tell us how someone goes about getting into that world!

ALEXANDRA: Hi, Kevin! Tell us more about your gigs. What are they typically like?

KEVIN: Hey Ali, thanks for your interest. Well, nowadays my gigs are almost always just me and my guitar playing covers in a pub somewhere. I don't write my own music anymore and there are only one or two that I like enough to play publicly (if someone asks) so typically now I'm just playing songs that meet 3 criteria: It's fun for me to play. It's fun for the audience to hear / they probably know it. It's not super typical for the audience to hear. For example, I would prefer not to play Wonderwall or Hotel California, and instead play something equally well known but rarely heard from an acoustic player, like Hit Me Baby One More Time or the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which I will have had to arrange myself to some degree because there aren't always original guitar parts for them. So music can still be a creative outlet for me, even though I'm not creating original music, I'm still often creating original versions of music that will pleasantly surprise the audience.

So, whether I'm playing three songs at an open mic night, or playing two hours as the main entertainment, I approach it the same, enjoy the experience, and enjoy meeting like-minded people before/after the set and connecting over music.

ALEXANDRA: Thank you for your collaboration! It sounds like you get a lot of pleasure out of your performances and do them only for fun rather than building a full-time career as a musician. Did you have different expectations at the beginning? If so, why the change?

KEVIN: I take so much pleasure from the performances! It's why I do it. If I don't have paid gigs happening, I'll try out an open mic night and play for free.

That's been difficult with the pandemic of course, but even with the first lockdown, I was in France for it and the building manager asked if I would play music for the people on their balconies one night. I did and they wanted it again and again and I wound up playing 40 songs in the 55 day lockdown.

Sorry, to answer your actual question :P I never really expected anything different from music. I knew getting around loud music and singing your heart out was just something I connected with, and which connected me to other people through the shared experience.

But it's not just the performing. I've tried bits of drama, acting, dance, and stand-up comedy here and there, and I really could take them or leave them. I actually kind of hate acting, even, so it's just something about the music...

ALEXANDRA: You never seem to run out of gigs! Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians who are looking to get started?

KEVIN: Well just play play play really. The evolution happens socially and naturally. Play with other people whenever you can. You always learn something and it's more fun!

Play with a friend, then play a song at 3am at a small party, then when you're ready to be brave and play in front of strangers, play an open mic night. Just go to any local bar, and ask if they do live music with open mic nights. Even if they don't, they'll know where to point you.

Become a regular at some open mic nights and you'll soon have the confidence and ability to play longer sets on your own. Ask the bar if you could support a band on the weekend, or headline a Tuesday/Wednesday night. They'll often try you out on a quieter night, then progress you to weekends where you can make better money.

For those under 18, you'll have to replace the open mic/bar with something like an all-ages gig (maybe organise your own?) in a community hall, but the basic progression is the same.

If you're confident of playing but you can't find gigs to play, you could also try busking in your local town just out on the street, but make sure it's safe and make sure you have the necessary permits from the police, if that's required in your town (it often is).

ALEXANDRA: Thank you so much for those tips. To wrap it up, please let us know where we can find you to continue this conversation!

KEVIN: Thanks Ali, well I don't write or promote regularly, as it's just a hobby, but sometimes a bit of music will go up on my personal Instagram page if people are interested in seeing that. @topkatburlesque

Thanks for the questions! Lots of fun and I hope it helps some people get to the next level with their playing!

Alexandra Pedro

Alexandra is a business owner, marketer and creative based in Ireland. She founded Alexandra Pedro Marketing in 2018. Her purpose is to farther the arts and culture industry through both her services and her free resources.