Jacob, I’m probably in about the same place as you when it comes to connections and gigs, so I don’t have any real “experienced” advice to give. But what seems to be working so far, and what I personally believe in, is that building relationships is key.
Recently, I found and joined game developers Discord group that was local to Reno where I live. After talking with one of the guys there, he asked if I’d be interested in doing music for a game mod that another group was working on and invited me there, so I might end up contributing some music to that.
I also found out that there is a Reno Video Game Symphony which is a volunteer orchestra that plays video game music. I met up with them and I might end up arranging some music for them.
And also I had this idea that had been growing in my head since I found out last year that the band director I had when I was in High School had died. He was a really great guy and I often think of him while I’m writing music, so I thought maybe I’ll write something that is dedicated to him. Then I thought, why don’t I contact the current band director of my old High School, tell him about this idea, and see if he’d be interested in having the band perform this piece? So I found this guy’s email and sent him a message to start a conversation and he’s into the idea. So I might have some music performed at a High School band concert this year.
I’ve tried to send out portfolios and apply for different music jobs and gigs but haven’t gotten anywhere. These three examples are ones where I already had some sort of connection, either the city where we live or someone we used to know. They’re all volunteer gigs, but they might get my music played for more people than just posting it online. And I think that those relationships that come from working with people will lead to more opportunities after.
I’m still working on my business plan and learning new stuff. I finished my music for my Minecraft project, but the world itself is on hold, partly because I’m busy with other things, partly because the world is starting to get glitchy and might have some corruption in the world file. I have some backups but I’ll have to rebuild a bit, and I just don’t want to do that at the moment. For gear & software, I’ve moved into a house recently and I now have a dedicated music room where all my instruments can remain easily accessible. And I’ve started building my own Kontakt instruments. When I’m happy enough with some of them I’m going to put them on the Pianobook site.
In short, I’m still learning how to be my own business when it comes to music, but I really believe that Relationships and Community are some of the most important things.