Q: Please state your name, location and occupation?
A: My name is Kevin McCarthy from Williamsville in Western New York. I’m a professional musician.
Q: How did you begin your music career?
A: It was 37 years ago when I played in my first rock band. It was 24 years ago I made a decision to quit my job and pursue my dream. I had enough work at the time but it was still a pretty big risk.
Q: How did you turn your love of music into a business?
A: I always enjoyed singing and playing guitar. Songwriting became one of my biggest hobbies and so I put together a pretty good studio to record. I began using backing tracks that I recorded with real musicians and it really increased the size and type of events I can do as he gave me a full band sound. I then adapted what I did to different types of venues and events, and then learned how to promote to make sure I had steady work. Doors opened that I never saw coming once I started on this path. It also freed up my time to focus on becoming a better musician, spend more time writing songs, spending time with my family, etc.
Q: How did you grow your fan base so fast?
A: Marketing and promoting was actually a very important part of making this a career, especially early on. When I began to play weekly at local bars and restaurants, I tried just about anything I could think of to build the nights. I worked with the places I played at the come up with ideas. Whatever promotions worked, we kept doing. I built a sizable email list and worked with businesses to do giveaways at my shows in return for promoting their business. Years before Facebook, I was putting pictures on my website of people at my shows. It greatly increased traffic on my website which help with all the promoting as well. I also focused on adding songs and took note of songs I would get requests for often and worked to add those to my list. Having a bigger selection helped me start to get a wider variety of events. Many people who came to my shows became good friends and really enjoy that aspect of performing.
Q: How did you hear about NAME Entertainers?
A: I heard about NAME online, I believe it was on a musician forum.
Q: Why should someone be a NAME Entertainers member?
A: Coming from the business world, I wanted something to establish the fact that I was serious about my profession. To this day, I do think NAME still establishes that. It shows people that you are committed and part of a group that you keep up with the latest trends the industry. It shows people that this is not just a hobby which I think is especially important these days in the music business. NAME also gives you exposure to congruent businesses that could help you expand and improve what you do.
Q: What advice can you offer a budding musician?
A: Definitely work on being the best musician you can be but that is only part of it. There still might be people more talented than you, but that doesn’t necessary translate into a better career. I believe work ethic beats talent in this business hands down. I’ve met a lot of people much more talented than me that for some reason aren’t able to put it all together. You also have to enjoy every aspect of it and be willing to wear a lot of hats. They call it the music business because it’s not just music, it’s also business. There is no doubt that becoming a better musician will help you, but if you want to make it your career, make sure you are passionate about the business end of things as well.
Q: What kind of guitar is the best to begin with and why?
A: For those starting out, a solid, inexpensive guitar is fine. I would suggest that you have it “set up” properly by a guitar technician so that the strings are as close the fret board as possible and it is easier to play. If you start on an acoustic guitar, going to an electric is easier, not the other way around. For acoustic, I have a Taylor 814CE, my electric setup is an American Telecaster through a Mesa boogie ½ stack.
Q: What’s your dream performance if you could pick anywhere in the world?
A: Madison Square Garden, the video of shows I’ve seen there are pretty cool and it’s a pretty iconic venue in general.
Q: How do clients reach you? Are you involved in anything else?
A: My main musician website www.kevinsmccarthy.com continues to be my main career, I’ve diversified over the years with a few projects. My youth show website www.kevinmccarthyshows.com I recently rebranded my event referral website www.eventlegends.com for over 23 years I book the bands at Mr. Goodbar and I help the Buffalo Irish Center with booking and I redid their website for them www.buffaloirishcenter.com.
Q: What are your proudest accomplishments?
A: First off, my family. Twenty five years ago last month, I met my wife Natalie. She requested I do one more song at the end of a show. Next thing I know, we are married and have three kids – Shea, Brennan and Aiden. I was twice voted solo artist of the year at the Buffalo Music Awards and was inducted to the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame as co-founder of my original group. I also recently performed across Ireland, that was something I always dreamed of doing. I recently wrote two songs for the Buffalo Bills Play60 virtual kickoff and performed it on the 50 yard line at Highmark Stadium and recorded a video for it as well. I’ve been a huge Bills fan my whole life so that was a thrill. Living my dream as a full-time professional musician is something I am very proud of as well.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: More traveling and performing. I will be performing across Ireland and look to expand through Europe… and definitely more songwriting!