A few weeks ago, I posted about The Most overrated Things in a Musician’s Career. Due to some requests, I’ve decided to write about the most underrated things that we often don’t think about or use to the fullest extent. Like my previous article, there are a number of things that depend some time or commitment. However, unlike the “overrated” list, these are all things that you can probably never have too much of.
Entries in Career (13)
Well, of course you do, but aim to have a boatload of material so you don’t have just your resume to show prospective employers. And then, during your first job, find time to do your own thing, by any means necessary, so that you don’t really need that resume after that. I landed the second job of my career with the film production house, Second Story Television without any resume at all. That was because I started that company with a few friends after gleaning enough experience and connections from working at a small film production company/ad agency based on the famed Madison Avenue in NYC. And jobs after SST were mostly pulled in from my network of friends. That’s the key and the underlying thought behind this bloggette: building your career, yourself, again, by any means necessary.
Over the last three years the career growth of one musician in particular has been extremely fun to watch. Los Angeles based songwriter, Drew Lawrence has balanced music, life, family, and bills to build a sustainable career in music over that span. A classically trained Pianist and graduate of Berklee College of Music, Drew has a career record that includes gigging around LA, a few west coast and US tours, teaching music lessons to families in Beverly Hills and a more recent focus in songwriting for heavy hitters like Christina Perri, Kelly Clarkson and a ton of up and comers.
So in part one of the Indie Artist Launch Plan we addressed what seem to be the two major problems as well as the importance of BUILDING a solid foundation.
The importance of creating the structure - built of the right habits, the right people, and the right attitude are the fundamental building blocks to the success of an Indie Artist Career today.
So the big day is fast approaching. You are leaving the ivory tower of college in a few weeks and are about to enter the work force. Most likely the only thought on your mind is how to get a job.
The ideal is to have a job locked up and waiting for you before you graduate, so you can enjoy your last month at college. This is what all your friends in other majors are doing. The computer scientists are getting flown across the country and eating lobster. The engineers are meeting with on campus recruiters. The management and business students have already found a good position at the bank where they interned.
The music industry does not work this way. Very few companies hire in advance. Music companies are not structured to wait several months for an entry-level candidate to graduate college. They hire when they need a body, not because there is an influx of new talent every spring, like some other industries. While this is frustrating, it actually creates a new opportunity.
Your goal as you enter the music industry should not be to find a job, but rather to develop a career. Getting your first job will be a byproduct of this process, but jobs are temporary and a career lasts a lifetime.
Think of your career development in four levels
The last half of 2011 was intense for a lot of us. The financial news across the world remained bleak, Occupy Wall Street was all over the news as the 99% spoke up to be heard.
The music business continued to take hits with Spotify’s arrival and news of more layoffs at record labels, management companies as we all scratched our heads to blog about positive things and good outcomes
Many of you may have seen this article (or another one) on setting goals as they crop up at this time of year.
It’s a new year and a clear slate is in front of all of us. The turning of the calendar from 2011 to 2012 is an ideal time to set your goals. I see a marked difference between artists who set finite goals and those who do not regardless of what is happening in the world and in the news.
Ask yourself: Is this the year I want to make a difference for my music career? And if so – what difference and how?
Think of goal setting as if you were driving in a foreign place – You wouldn’t get where you expect to go without a clear set of directions. Goal setting is like drawing a map for yourself.
This article is designed to assist you in creating a personal roadmap for achieving what you would like with your musical career this year, whether you consider music your hobby and you do it part time or you are making a living out of it full-time.
I have included a few links from some of the best musician related posts on how to think about and achieve goals as well. So, bookmark this long article and refer to it throughout the year!
Many people start thinking about their goals on New Year’s Day, many start thinking about this 3 months ahead and start gearing up for it and preparing to have it. This is the best time to start, it helps you think ahead, gives you more time to prepare and gives you extra time to think about strategy. 2012 is a few days away but of course it isnt too late to start thinking about what you want for the year!
As I made my way back from Los Angeles, I started to think how many talented young artists out there have made the wrong decision when it came to their personal manager? How many of them had an attorney present when signing their management deals? How many of them involved a sunset clause? How did the contract say the manager was paid? Gross revenue stream or would the manager be dipping into “restricted areas”?
So you’ve got it in your head that you must be signed to be happy. As you know, I am very much against labels as they are 95% of the time a terrible financial decision. However, you don’t care. Cool, let’s work with that.
I played keyboards on my first Broadway show a few weeks ago. For me, this is a milestone in my career and marks the achievement of a major life goal that I’ve been working toward for over 20 years. When I first decided I wanted to play keyboards on Broadway – and this will be a reoccurring theme – I had no idea where to start. There were a lot of very generous musicians who helped guide me along the way. So in an effort to pay back that kindness, and in the hopes that this might help somebody out there with similar goals, I’m going to tell you the story of how I got my gig.
While artists may wish the capital M in this industry belonged to music, the truth is there is many other elements which have to be in place to successfully launch and nurture a career.
The record execs and publicists would have you believe that the M stands for marketing. They love to take credit for how they masterminded the strategy that broke the band.
In reality when it comes to successful acts, the dominating M is not music, or marketing, but marketability, and that ultimately lies in the hands of the artist themselves. The most successful acts in both the mainstream and the more niche genres, understand this as the key to growth and sustainability.
So many artists fall down because they put too many eggs in one basket. They woefully neglect other key ingredients, which, unless firmly in place, will lead to missed opportunities and ultimately, failed careers.
Your fans are the lifeblood of your career. Without fans, you don’t have a music career, you only have a music hobby. Fans buy your products, listen to your music, give you feedback, share you with their friends, come to your shows, and wear your t-shirts. They are the people that enable you to become a full-time musician, and live the artist lifestyle. The most loyal of fans will stand by your side through thick and thin, buy all of your swag, and help you in many ways throughout your career.
It’s the end of the year, and showing some appreciation to your fans for all the support they’ve given you can go a long way. They deserve a bit more than music and t-shirts.
1. Don’t give your fans live music. Give them a live experience.
Your fans were awesome enough to pay money to see you perform, so the best way to give back in that regard is to put on an incredible show that fans cannot wait to talk about with their friends afterwards. Do something fun and unique that portrays your personality in a positive manner, and make it memorable. Whatever expectations that your fans held with them at the beginning of the gig should be shattered to pieces by the end. Blow your fans away, and give them more than what they believed they paid for.
The possibilities are really endless, but here are a few simple ideas that you can try out to give your fans a more memorable live experience:
It is common knowledge that establishing, building upon and maintaining a fan base is one of, if not the most important goal of any emerging artist who is looking to use their music to forge a sustainable career.
But in order to make sure that your efforts are maximized and your fan base grows properly, it is important that you understand that not all fans are equal.
‘Fan’ is a metric of measurement of a persons dedication to your music.
While everyone likes to say they are a HUGE fan, the reality is a little different: your fan base will range from the mildly engaged Listeners to the overly-dedicated Superfans.
Although creating legitimate and valuable relationships with fans is important, it is also extremely time consuming, especially as your fan base begins to grow. Therefore it is crucial that you understand who your fans are, in terms of dedication, so that as you invest more and more time into establishing and maintaining relationships with fans, you continue to see an increasingly beneficial return in terms of on and offline influence, engagement and sales (both music and ticket sales included).
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(Updated July 8, 2015)