In this article, Cruise Industry News claims that Royal Caribbean Cruises will overtake the behemoth Carnival Cruises in their capacity to carry the most passengers. Given the number and the size of new ships that Royal Caribbean is planning to roll out, their estimated annual passenger capacity will increase from 3.2 million today, to 4.2 million in 2021.
For comparison, Carnival Cruises will increase their annual passenger capacity from 3.8 million this year to 4.0 million by 2021.
Looking at this from a musicians’ perspective, this can only be good. Ships need entertainment. The more ships they build, the more entertainers they’ll need. It’s that simple.
I’m still puzzled as to why career management courses are still missing in some of today’s most prestigious Universities. It would be a shame and huge waste of time, effort and money, to not be able to apply the skills acquired during a music education.
Many musicians make poor decisions when it comes to managing their career. In fact, many of them may not realize that they are in charge of managing themselves. Musicians that may have been guided along by parents, teachers, student advisors or friends, may not realize that they’re in charge of their own career once school’s over. Coming to this realization is thus imperative to kick-start a successful career.
Perhaps it would help musicians to view their music career as a business. A business that needs representation, a business that needs to be marketed properly, a business that needs to stay up-to-date, a business that needs to maintain professional working relationships with other professionals in the music industry.
This translates into being pro-active with job hunts and interacting in a professional manner with other persons. Being on time for rehearsals and gigs, possessing proper phone manners, handling scheduling in a professional manner, being helpful and fun to be around etc.
This is not supposed to be a how-to article on career management, this article is supposed to merely awaken those that believe that gigs will magically appear out of nowhere regardless of how they interact with their surroundings. To give you an example; we organize a lot of auditions for those interested in cruise ship work. For some reason, a large number of individuals don’t have the decency to cancel auditions if they can’t make but decide to “no show” instead. Whether you want to believe it or not, this will hurt your career.
So take a moment to reflect on how you manage your career currently and if there is room for improvement.
By now, most musicians know that it has gotten much more difficult to get a job on a cruise ship simply because the demand is smaller than the supply. Knowing how to keep your job is thus more important than ever before. Some of the bands that don’t get re-hired may be puzzled as to why they’re not offered a job, after they have “successfully” finished several contracts. The answer may not even be related to the quality of the band. Some of the best-sounding bands may not be the most successful bands on ships.
The answer may lie in the fact that “successful” may mean something different to the band than it does to the cruise line. more info
Just because you’re at sea doesn’t mean you have to stop being creative. If you’re planning to record some of your song ideas the minute they pop into your head, you need a flexible recording device with you. Korg just announced their “Sound on sound” multi-track recorder, that’s small enough to fit in any gig bag and it’s packed with some nice features.
The unit can record an unlimited amount of tracks (not that you need that but nice to see it could), it’s got 50 preset rhythm patterns on board, can record up to 200 songs, uses AA batteries and it’s even got a tuner built-in. It’s also got “sound stretch” built-in, which lets you speed up or slow down music without changing the pitch. This actually comes in handy when you want to learn a difficult passage of some lick.
Oh, and it’s also got 100 effects built-in for guitar, bass and vocals.
A big drawback is that it doesn’t have any XLR inputs, only a 1/4″ balanced phone jack and a 1/8″ stereo mini jack. The unit isn’t shipping yet so yo have to be patient, and the list price is a bit of a enigma since many sites show a different price. The “buy now” feature on the Korg site shows it as selling for $299.99 once it ships. Probably safe to say that you’ll be able to get it for less soon.
I’m always on the lookout for gear that either makes it easier or more fun to perform on the road, and I’ve come across a gadget that definitely delivers. TC Electronics has introduced it’s new guitar and bass tuner “PolyTune“. It’s called that because it let’s you strum all of your strings at once and it tells you which ones are out of tune. This is a huge time saver over the older tuners that made you tune the strings one by one. All you do is strum all of your strings at once and the device will display in green the strings that are in tune and in red the strings that needs to be tuned.
You may remember TC Electronics from a previous post on this blog about their Harmony G, a box that adds harmonies based on your voice. This company is coming out with really high quality products that enable you to keep your performances fresh and, now with the PolyTune, makes your life easier.
This is an article I was hoping I would never have to write. But here I am, typing away, because common sense is, apparently, a lot less common than you’d think. Wikipedia says: “common sense” equates to the knowledge and experience which most people allegedly have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have.
In a previous blog post I wrote about the fact that more musicians apply for cruise ship jobs because they can’t find jobs on land. By now it’s clear that this has created a huge backlog of musicians that can’t get back on ships because the supply is larger than demand and this may seem as a negative effect at first, but could it be that the quality of the music on cruise ships improves as a result? more info
Part of playing in a band on a cruise ship means that you will find yourself playing a lot of other people’s music. In fact, it’s rare to encounter a situation where you will actually be encouraged to play your own original pieces. Audiences on vacation are there to hear a familiar tune that they can groove, relax or get down to. As such, your set list is probably going to be filled with popular songs or old standards.
Now, some people might be discouraged by this reality. After all, many musicians are creative people who love to write as much as play. However, playing covers and standards doesn’t mean that you can’t inject your own creativity into each and every track. more info
For years, some of us have wondered aloud how secure jobs on ships will be in the future. We’ve speculated that Asian bands may replace Western bands, that orchestras would dwindle down to one guy with a Casio keyboard and that Karaoke machines would replace small bands.
I don’t think so.
Let me go out on a limb and proclaim that none of that is going to happen. The cruise ship business is going stronger than ever and cruise lines keep building new ships that outperform each other in size in order to accommodate all the newcomers to cruising. These news ships are going to be around for a while. I believe it would be reasonably fair to assume that a cruise ship that costs a cruise line a billion dollars would last at least 20-25 years.
I also believe that no passenger would put up with a vacation that doesn’t provide live entertainment. If the ships keep getting bigger, there needs to be enough stuff for people to do, and live entertainment is a big part of that.
Not only are there going to be more bars and lounges per ship that need to be staffed with musicians but some of these lounges may also be larger to accommodate the extra number of people on ships. So it’s possible that they’d have to put larger bands or orchestras in some of those lounges which means more jobs for musicians.
Check out the picture below which I found on travelweekly. It depicts a futuristic ship designed by Fredrik Johansson, a designer for Tillberg Design AB, a company that is responsible for designing some of the world’s most popular ships like the QE2 and QM2 or Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. Now these are floating cities! Absolutely huge.
Some other companies have thought about renting out condos on similar floating resorts so you’d actually live on one of those.
Now I believe that these ships are built so that vacationers can come relax, get pampered, travel, be active and, yes of course, be entertained.
So if you haven’t until now considered a career on a cruise ship, now’s the time.
An audition for a cruise ship gig, any audition for that matter, can never determine with 100% certainty that a particular musician will be the right man/woman for the gig. Thus we would like to mention one more time how important it is for you to inform yourself about what the gig entails and ask yourself if you believe you can do the gig. This, of course, works only if you’re honest about it.
You know your own playing the best. You know what your weaknesses and your strengths are. You’re doing yourself a disservice by holding back on that knowledge during auditions. Remember the goal is not to get past the audition, but to be able to do the job properly.
Auditions are meant to give the auditioner the best possible idea of the quality of a musician. For obvious time constraint reasons, these auditions thus focus on evaluating the more obvious elements such as finger technique, embouchure, sight-reading skills, tone, musicianship etc. and thus may neglect some of the less obvious skills.
In the professional world of music, for example, it is necessary for rhythm section players especially to know tunes by heart. Very often, tunes are called with little or no notice at all and thus it helps if you know chord changes to some of the most common standards and, ideally, how to transpose them.
This is a typical area where auditions can’t do a great job because we couldn’t possibly ask people to play a large number of standards to make sure they know them.
This is just one example and there are many more. The point is that musicians need to have the integrity to analyze what they can do and what they can’t and be upfront about it. If you barely get through the audition and end up on a ship, your weaknesses will be exposed for sure. There’s not “getting by” once you face the music and chances of getting fired are still pretty good, even if you’ve passed an audition.
Bottom line: the people that are auditioning you are your friend, not your enemy. Misleading them during auditions is most likely going to hurt you and your career in the end. Being upfront about your strengths and weaknesses is the best you can do for yourself.
We are currently looking for quality bands with high energy and character. Lead vocalists should have charisma and the ability to engage a crowd.
Bands should not only play great music with a fresh new sound, but should also be visually appealing and be able to create a fun atmosphere.
Go here and click on Party Bands to find out more.
Updated February 7, 2013
-Guitar & Piano/Vocalists Needed-
We are currently looking for young, highly skilled guitar/vocalists and piano/vocalists for work on cruise ships. Visit our jobs & auditions page to learn more about the jobs and the audition procedures. Contact information is