Proship Entertainment is the world’s largest agency for cruise ship musicians. They administer over 1,000 musician jobs a year, including exclusive positions with Cunard, Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, P&O Australia, and Compagnie Des Iles du Ponant. Their head office in Montreal, Quebec employs 21 employees and administers a list of nearly 50,000 musician candidates.
We asked Daniel Thibault, Founder and CEO of Proship Entertainment, if he could give our readers some advice on applying for a job through his agency. Read Daniel’s guestblog below to find out how you can rise to the top of Proship’s list.
With over twenty employees dedicated to creating career opportunities for outstanding individuals, I decided to ask our staff what they would recommend. Here are their thoughts:
- Be open, clear and honest. By telling the whole truth about your musical abilities, your musical experience, your medical condition and your legal situation, your agent can guide you towards a position and a cruise line where you can be successfully approved. Omitting to tell us about a change in the band line-up, your ‘realistic’ song list, pre-existing medical conditions, use of medication, or a DUI record can have you refused from a line for life. A good agent can work with some of your musical, medical and legal limitations, but he or she needs to know what the reality is to be effective.
- Play conservatively and ‘in-the pocket’. Cruise lines cater to broad passenger demographics and therefore the entertainment offerings are within a conservative musical spectrum. Forget about playing original material on a demo or breaking into wild improvisations or playing material on the fringe of global musical production.
- Listen to your agent’s instructions carefully. Your agent understands clearly what each client requires; often this knowledge comes from years of interacting with cruise line representatives. Do not underestimate your recruiter’s requests for repertoire, new videos or other promotional material, as these are the tools required to sell you to the client.
- Be quick and deliver on time. Timing is everything. Jobs come and go at a fast pace so every discussion is timely, even if the proposed job is a year ahead. When promising your agent certain material on certain dates, be sure to deliver the goods on time as part of the recruiter’s evaluation of you will be your sense of urgency.
- Dress the part. Remember you are applying to be part of the entertainment on a luxury cruise vessel, where passengers might wear tuxedos a couple of nights a week. Grand ballroom, Captain’s cocktails, white glove service are the norm onboard cruise ships. Even if you are applying as a party band, you have to look clean and sharp and that goes for the audition as well. There is no second chance to make a good first impression.
- Think quality. Send good quality videos, photos, demo recordings. This doesn’t mean to overproduce your videos with overdubs and expensive camera work. Your agent will prefer hear your ‘live sound’, but hear it well and see you well even with a stationary camera.
- Prepare yourself for an audition. Make sure you are warmed-up, in tune, well rested, on top of your form musically and dress the part. Do not underestimate the standard of reading and musical ability required to work on ships, thinking that “sight reading” means you will get an hour to look at the chart or it means just reading chords or guitar tabs.
- Be available. Regular cruise contracts range from 3.5 months to yearlong employment with pre-planned vacation. If you are only available for a couple of weeks, take a cruise vacation as a passenger. Occasionally shorter contracts occur with short notice, however those are usually reserved for experienced individuals.
- Be open. A cruise ship gig is like no other you’ve ever experienced in the past. Going on a cruise is an adventure in an un-real environment. None of the land life parameters exists at sea, such as buying groceries, washing dishes, cleaning your house, driving to the gig. You are at sea and ultimately your boss is a captain, so it’s very different. Avoid having a preconceived idea about what ship life and applying for such position will be like. This is not a “paid vacation”.
- Don’t pay any fees upfront. Either for application and/or coaching and/or auditioning, don’t pay anything to anyone, period. Once you get approved for a job, then you will have to pay for a physical examination, passport and visas, but only then. There are many scams out there, so be careful. Some will sell you a book that gives you our agency’s phone number. Use a reputable agency with decades of experience in the industry, preferably one that will not charge you a commission or fee during your employment.
If you have any other question regarding cruise ship employment for entertainers, feel free to contact myself or any of my colleagues. We are here to help.