This year, I’ll be 38. It seemed so far away when I was in my twenties. Seemed ever further away in my teens. I don’t feel old however. Maybe it’s my job. All that traveling, late nights, and general association with borderline alcoholics. All in all, I never got that “fuck, I’m getting old feeling.”

All that started to change this past year however. More and more, I find myself being the go-to guy for younger musicians asking me for tips on the business. I am in no way the most qualified to answer, but as I slowly enter into the “aging musician club” — you know, musicians over 30 — I try to do my best to answer their questions as best I can. Here now, is a list of tips and advice I’ve compiled over years of touring and gigging that every young musician should read at least once.

1. Don’t play for free.

It’s tempting when you are starting off and looking for gigs, to accept even ridiculous offers just for the chance to play on stage. “Hey, listen, we don’t have any money to give you, and we’ll need your car…and your mom’s credit card number, but we’ll split the door between the 6 of us!” I’ve heard this way too often. You rehearse, load the car, drive to some bar that didn’t put up posters, only to return $100 in the hole. Remember that YOUR TALENT got you to where you are, and that doesn’t come free.

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2. Nail Clippers!

In the pantheon of touring paraphernalia, the nail clipper is easily in the top 10. Guitarists know this trick well. You get to the venue, have a couple of pre-soundcheck beers, and get up on stage only to realize that you’re starting to look like Howard Hughes in your left hand. Clip those nails, and rock your way to stardom!

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How to cut your fingernails when playing classical guitar

3. The Tim Hortons Lip-Cap trick.

Every Canadian musician is all too familiar with the Tim Hortons-Spill-On-Your-Lap-While-Driving problem. Solution? When the cashier isn’t looking, grab the “lip” cap reserved for their “fancy” coffees. It fits perfectly on their medium and large formats and won’t spill while you are trying to load that Led Zeppelin Live at MSG CD your brother burned for you.

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4. The Beer Heist.

Everyone learns at some point, that if you play enough gigs in a month, your beer supply grows proportionately. The venue will provide beer for the band. Beers are often left behind in the dressing room. 2+2. Load up that backpack and get the hell out of dodge!

beer bottles

5. Neo-Laryngobis Suppositories.

I know, just hear me out. Nothing says “the show must go on” like shoving a foreign object up your own ass, but trust me, you will want to have a couple of these magic bullets handy in the event of an all out case of Harvey Fierstein voice. Just bite your lip, think of baseball, and swing away.

Neo-Laryngobis Suppositories

After a few years of doing this, I’ve picked up these tricks along the way, but there are way more people out there with way more experience than me who have a lot of good advice to share as well. That’s the fun thing about this job; there isn’t a blueprint. You kind of learn as you go and hopefully, you won’t have to stick anything up your ass along the way.

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About The Author

Andre Papanicolaou
Collaborator - RREVERB

Andre Papanicolaou is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter, producer, touring and session guitarist. Over several years of recording and touring with other artists (Vincent Vallières, Daran, Pascale Picard Band, Patrice Michaud), Papanicolaou began to carry around a notebook and write down a series of essays. He brings to RREVERB a unique point of view: the one of a professional musician.