“I’ve managed to generate a very sustainable income in less than a year as a full-time musician,” says singer/songwriter Lenny Morris, “playing three to four shows a week for private events, upscale restaurants, and wine bistros.”
Until this past April, Morris wore a paper hat and apron at In-N-Out Burger. “I was laid off three times, from three jobs in three years. I accepted a paltry position and hourly pay at In-N-Out after I became desperate.... My starting pay was $10 an hour. I was there for two years and became miserable. I realized I could make more money working a fraction of the hours doing what I love to do.”
He began playing solo acoustic sets for Listen Local showcases at House of Blues and the Stage Bar and Grill, as well as landing a Wednesday residency at Mosaic Wine Bar. “The more free I was during the day, the more time I had pounce on opportunities by answering and writing emails, making calls, and [self-]marketing. I usually spend time online finding new restaurants or venues that might not have music.... Since I designed and run my website daily, and my calendar is always updated, it helps to have a full calendar when trying to convince an upscale restaurant to pay you.”
He says intensive follow-ups have been the key. “Music is probably the last thing on a restaurants priority list, so sometimes it takes ten classy and nonabrasive calls or emails to get someone to take notice. Plus, most restaurants and private events require you to provide your own sound. I have a PA system that works for anything as small as a house reception to a large venue.”
Morris writes his songs on an acoustic guitar, which he began playing at age 12. His debut EP, Lenny Morris Music, was released last November. “I think there’s kind of an ‘indie’ attitude that limits people. I’ve been criticized simply because I make good money playing music for private events and restaurants. But I’m able to comfortably pay my bills.
“I don’t think a lot of people have the patience for the business side. Most musicians just want to play music.”
Lenny Morris appears at the House of Blues on August 19.