What the Manchester Christmas Markets did and continue to do for us

Suzy WimbourneComment

The beginning of our 5 year adventure to date began in November 2011 at the Manchester Christmas Markets and in 2015 we have been back once again at St Annes Square Gluhwein bar. If you haven't seen us yet, our final two dates are next Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm until 8.30pm!

This is a post I envisioned writing as I walked back to the car after our first evening back at the markets. Music gear feels twice as heavy on the return journey, my legs feel stiff from bopping on one spot and my voice is husk, but all of which I knew to expect. On the other hand, there’s a post-gig buzz, a feeling that we just grafted over 3 hours performing and the tips we made feel as valuable as a £500 gig we’re used to nowadays. It’s not just grounding, it’s also performance at such a naked level and it's exhilarating. 

Opportunity knocks:

As commercial musicians for hire we have a website and we have multiple agents who get us work. The Christmas Markets however allow us to advertise ourselves to potential clientele en-masse. It’s the perfect place for visiting tourists from near and far as well as locals who’ll frequent the outdoors bar after work. Year on year we can predict that there’ll be new opportunities to be gained from being on show here and this can be in the form of agents, venue owners, even producers. Already after two nights at the markets we had some interesting propositions but more often than not we have to explain that we have a mortgage to pay for.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that performing at the Christmas Markets is not as lucrative as performing at a private function. However for us, it is mostly about the market’s potential for opportunities and It’s road-hardening capabilities.

I don’t know how much extra business establishments get from having live music but it’s likely that such an atmosphere encourages people to come in from the streets and stay for longer. Performing for tips is not an exact science. Yes we know we can perform crowd pleasers yet even still tips aren’t guaranteed. It’s the luck of the night and for us it’s always our duty to give it our all because we’re only ever as good as our last performance. 

Back on point, the Christmas Markets serve as a nostalgic memento to when we first began. It provides a nice chunk of pocket money for Christmas and we can count on it to cough up a new opportunity or two for the next year. It also serves as the perfect rehearsal arena for getting road-ready for cruise contracts and upcoming gigs and enables us to improve and try out new things. 

Some thanks:

We have Anja and her team of familiar faces to thank for this Christmastime gig. It truly is where Suzy and I began performing together and what led us onto our busking tour of the UK, a gig diary, overseas work and a full-time job from doing what we love.  

Merry Christmas everyone!