Musician Referral Service

The Bienen School of Music receives many calls each day from individuals and businesses interested in hiring a single musician or musical ensemble. If you are registered, you have the opportunity to add to your immediate income, gain valuable performing or teaching experience, learn to run your own small business, and begin to network into the Chicago musical scene. Here's how we operate.

How To Register

  • Come to RCMA 2-168 to pick up registration materials. Fill out the card indicating everything you are able/want to do -- write on the back if you'd like. Please don't sign up for work you really aren't qualified to do.
  • Return the card and registration form to RCMA 2-168. You're all set.
  • Remember to update your contact information on file with us when you move or no longer want to be considered for gigs.
  • Alumni are welcome to sign up with us as well. You will need to stop by RCMA 2-168 to fill out information and have a former professor contact the choral office with his/her endorsement as well.

What kind of musicians do people want to hire?

  • Studio Teachers, both children and adults, beginners through advanced -- on all instruments. 
  • Solo and Ensemble Performers for parties, weddings, receptions, restaurants, churches, and orchestra substitutes
  • Accompanists
  • Coaches (voice, theory, composition, etc.)
  • Arrangers and Copyists

How does it work?

When someone calls seeking to hire musicians, the Bienen School serves as a referral service and not a booking agency. Each client will be given at least three names with phone numbers of individual musicians or groups that could meet their needs. The client will then contact the musicians. We make every effort to rotate the names so all get equal opportunities.

When you accept a job, the negotiations and contract are up to you. Northwestern does not set your fees. If you are not sure what to charge for your services, you can talk to other students, check with your studio teacher or come to the Career Services Office for some guidance. This should be done before you get that first call. Negotiating is a part of any contract, but you should know what the going rates are and what you're willing to accept for a given job.

Referral Tips

  • Your professional reputation is at stake with every job you take, so take this very seriously. The music world is amazingly small. Word of unprofessional behavior travels quickly. You may not get a second chance.
  • Make sure your voice mail has a professional greeting. Respond to your messages promptly. Remember, you must be the salesman for your talents.
  • Be prepared to providea link you your website or youtube, vimeo etc links of you or your ensembles playing. If you play different music styles, include these on your registration card. Perhaps a repertory list will be requested. We get calls for musicians to play classical, jazz, pop, show tunes, Klezmer, Dixie, and other ethnic styles.
  • Protect yourself with a written contract. Make certain you and your client are in agreement as to the time you begin and finish, equipment needed, required breaks, fee for service, fee for overtime, any special clothing requirements, etc. Ask for a deposit with a signed contract.
  • If for some reason you cannot fulfill your contract, you must find your own replacement and one that is acceptable to the client.
  • Get directions and leave extra time to arrive a little early. The music shouldn't worry the event organizer.
  • Dress appropriately -- if in doubt, ask.
  • No smoking, drugs or alcohol.
  • Create an attractive business card. Bring them to your gigs. Guests may want them for future events.
  • Treat this as a small business. Keep good records. Tax time rolls around before you know it.

Questions? Contact: