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markmcclelland

Mark's Diaries: The journey of becoming a pro player

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As it says on the tin.

Just over a year ago, I first started to try to go pro on the Costa Blanca in Spain when I decided to go there with my bass during the summer rather than endure another summer camp somewhere in the Spanish countryside teaching English in 40+ degrees.

This experience led directly to me getting an office job in London and living in a caravan wedged between two lorries on an industrial estate. I saw, and see, London as one of the best cities to be a musician so took the opportunity to get into there and out of Madrid. From the caravan, following a brief period of homelessness, I wound my way to a bar job in Kentish town and right into the London music scene playing every jam I could and hooking up with my first London professional band and an aspiring singer/songwriter who'd worked with some of the best musicians around.

I diaried the whole thing, am continuing to do so and just this week it was first put up publicly - up to now, it's only been available on a subscription website - so it's a year behind the ongoing diaries give or take. The diaries are my journey to attempt to become a professional bass player and I've taken them through the Costa Blanca with Alicante, Benidorm and Javea, into Madrid and then onto London. There are some disasters, there are some triumphs and there are some bits you'll read with eyes through fingers. But hey, I'm still here and typing on Basschat right now as I type. As for getting online with them, I have to credit loyal reader Sybilline from the previously not mentioned website who prompted the idea and took on the task of administering the wordpress site and the process of putting the entries up. They're basically being posted in bigger segments than I wrote with breaks being made at appropriate times.

If you're interest has been tickled, go to https://marksdiaries.wordpress.com

Cheers and maybe I'll see you around here sometime.

Mark McClelland

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[quote name='LewisK1975' timestamp='1450874351' post='2936605']
Following with interest!
[/quote]
Hey Lewis. Thankyou very much.

[quote name='Dropzone' timestamp='1450875509' post='2936612']
I will have a nose over the xmas period. Good luck...
[/quote]

Cheers mate. Really appreciated.

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[quote name='Drax' timestamp='1450890788' post='2936791']
Brave move. When's the next instalment?
[/quote]
Thanks a lot. It went out pretty much the same time you were asking. Unless you saw that one, in which case the next one will be tomorrow - Friday - and it will then be released on Mondays and Fridays.

[quote name='Number6' timestamp='1450915301' post='2937094']
Interesting read
[/quote]

Thankyou very much.

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Great read so far. Keep it going. I'll be checking in for some more soon.

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[quote name='mep' timestamp='1450950833' post='2937247']
Great read so far. Keep it going. I'll be checking in for some more soon.
[/quote]

That's great. Thanks a lot.

[quote name='RickyV' timestamp='1450951931' post='2937258']
Hey. Really good stuff. I will follow with interest!!
[/quote]

As I said above. Thankyou very much. Really appreciate you coming and having a look.
[quote name='tonybassplayer' timestamp='1450952446' post='2937270']
Hi Mark

Just had a quick look and looks very interesting

Going to bookmark this for when Xmas has quietened down a little to have a thorough read

Tony
[/quote]

Thanks a lot Tony. Have a good one. And the longer you leave it, the more will be up.

Oh, and that comment to Ricky, really applies to everyone. Really appreciate you all coming on and having a look.

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This is up to day nine now. Go check out the disasters, triumphs and inspirations of a bass summer on the Costa Blanca. Where can it possibly go next?
https://marksdiaries.wordpress.com/

Edited by markmcclelland

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A fascinating blog - I stayed up way to late on a school night to read it to the end and await the next instalment with interest.

Two comments / questions:
1) Why did you go out in July? I would have thought that it would have made sense to go out at the beginning of the season (April / May ??) when I assume that every bar is booking residencies or gigs for the season rather than midway through? I think it would have been easier to find a band needing a bass player for the summer as well as a place to live and a part time barwork if needed.
2) I know that you are on a budget but I would think that you would really need a car to work as a musician out there? I assume hat you would need to gig up and down the Costa to make a living? As you have found just trying to get to a few jam sessions, what would be a two hour round trip in a car takes all day n public transport and will usually mean you can't get back home at night! Not to mention that presumably you will need to carry an amp at some point!

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[quote name='peteb' timestamp='1451896865' post='2944282']
A fascinating blog - I stayed up way to late on a school night to read it to the end and await the next instalment with interest.

Two comments / questions:
1) Why did you go out in July? I would have thought that it would have made sense to go out at the beginning of the season (April / May ??) when I assume that every bar is booking residencies or gigs for the season rather than midway through? I think it would have been easier to find a band needing a bass player for the summer as well as a place to live and a part time barwork if needed.
2) I know that you are on a budget but I would think that you would really need a car to work as a musician out there? I assume hat you would need to gig up and down the Costa to make a living? As you have found just trying to get to a few jam sessions, what would be a two hour round trip in a car takes all day n public transport and will usually mean you can't get back home at night! Not to mention that presumably you will need to carry an amp at some point!
[/quote]

I'm guessing the definition of calling yourself 'pro' is the ability to earn your living from playing. But that depends on what your living costs are? What confuses me is that there are guys on this site who work in full time jobs while gigging a few times a week. Whereas there are also guys who describe themselves as 'pro' but sit home waiting for the phone to ring?

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[quote name='peteb' timestamp='1451896865' post='2944282']
A fascinating blog - I stayed up way to late on a school night to read it to the end and await the next instalment with interest.

Two comments / questions:
1) Why did you go out in July? I would have thought that it would have made sense to go out at the beginning of the season (April / May ??) when I assume that every bar is booking residencies or gigs for the season rather than midway through? I think it would have been easier to find a band needing a bass player for the summer as well as a place to live and a part time barwork if needed.
2) I know that you are on a budget but I would think that you would really need a car to work as a musician out there? I assume hat you would need to gig up and down the Costa to make a living? As you have found just trying to get to a few jam sessions, what would be a two hour round trip in a car takes all day n public transport and will usually mean you can't get back home at night! Not to mention that presumably you will need to carry an amp at some point!
[/quote]

Hey Pete

Some great points there and really, thanks a lot for checking in and letting me know what you thought. I'm sorry I kept you up but it's supercool you were caught up that much in it.

Point one

This gets addressed later in the blog but at the time I was working as an English teacher in Madrid. The academic year finished at the end of June so I was waiting for that to build up some money to be able to go. Also, as that was when work finished, that was the time to go.

What happened in July/August in Madrid was people would go and get summer work. I've done this to greater or lesser extents with greater or lesser successes. That particular year, I just didn't want to do the summer camps or whatever else it would have entailed. So I decided to just take myself down to the Costa Blanca and see what I could make happen, if anything.

But yes. You are right. It was a bit more difficult turning up at that time of year, especially when it came to getting barwork.

Two

You're right again. To do it right, you would need a car. I didn't have a car and, on the money I was making as a teacher, there were no short term possibilities where I would get one. So it was either just don't go at all and take the summer teaching option, or go with what I had - ie no car - and see what I could make happen. I worked as a professional musician in Ireland without a car as the band I was in had a van. My amp stayed in the van and I would meet it when we had gigs and get dropped off again at a similar place. Yes, you are greatly limited without a car but with the right breaks, you could find a band near you and work it out from there. I was really taking my chances going there without a car but like I said, it was either take my chances or just not go.

Edited by markmcclelland

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[quote name='mentalextra' timestamp='1451900424' post='2944316']
I'm guessing the definition of calling yourself 'pro' is the ability to earn your living from playing. But that depends on what your living costs are? What confuses me is that there are guys on this site who work in full time jobs while gigging a few times a week. Whereas there are also guys who describe themselves as 'pro' but sit home waiting for the phone to ring?
[/quote]


Really, anyone who makes money at it can call themselves a professional whether it's one gig a week or half a dozen. I'd say the guy with a full time job gigging at weekends is a part time professional but still professional. I'm sure those guys who sit at home waiting for the phone to ring also do what they can to make it ring. It could be having a web presence. Or maybe they go and hustle as well. But once you get to a certain level, you've got a number of established gigs you do and you can wait for the phone to ring because it does. I've been there when I was in a managed band and, as far as bookings were concerned, our manager just told us as and when they came up. I've also known and worked with a lot of those guys whose phone does ring a lot. They've done the hard setup work and then they get to a point where they do just wait for the calls. There are also a lot of other kinds of professionals such as touring musicians or cruise guys who could be on the road for a few months at a time and then pick up what they can when they're back home.

Also, if you're in a well paid, busy wedding band two gigs a week would pay you around 500 a week give or take and that's a passable full time weekly wage for many people.

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Day 13 is up and it's definitely a stand-out day. I remember waking up that day and thinking, so it's the 13th. But I don't believe in that stuff so I won't worry about it. Oh, I so should have been worried about it. Anne Marie, who is administering the site for me and who read it all from the beginning said this today.

[size=4][color=#373E4D][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]"That one almost killed me. Too much emotions. Was there one single day worse than day 13? Apart from ... ?[that one will have to wait]. I can't think of one more terrible than what I just read... "[/font][/color][/size]

[color=#373E4D][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]I might actually have to go back and have a look at it myself. But maybe not just yet. [/font][/color]

Edited by markmcclelland

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As LewisK1975 says it only has up to day 12!

I'm keen for the next instalment,

Edited by mep

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