For more and more musicians, the idea of stardom seems to be further and further away. While some still see stars in their eyes, a great number have come to the realization that the goal is now a lot different, since just making a living in music can now be considered a success.
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
What would be the worst-case scenario for you as a musician? You might think it’d be having precisely zero fans, or having people actively hate your music. But unless the hatred reaches Rebecca Black levels, at least it’s feedback you can use to improve what you do. In truth, the most damaging situation is having a small, gradually growing fanbase, getting decent feedback, but not seeing how it’ll ever take off enough to generate a decent income any time soon. Is this you? And what can you do about it?
Problems: they happen sooner or later.
Every group will go through some kind of major disagreement that could possibly dismantle the band. Huge levels of success won’t solve those issues; in fact, they tend to sharpen those differences even if you are bound my family (just look at the Kings of Leon or Oasis). So how do you handle those problems or minimize the damage?
Here are some tips to reduce the heat of the situation in your band:
[Originally written for the Berklee Blog created for their Intern Program way back in January of last year, when Greenberg obviously had a lot of time on his hands, somewhere before going to sleep and those dark hours after midnight.]
When I interview interns for the Ted Kurland Associates program, which I oversee here at TKA, more than a few want to know if they are going to work directly with the agents, or with management, as if the marketing side of it were tangential to their education, not only as an intern at TKA, but as a whole to their career. Of course, working with the artists is more interesting than working with the pictures of the artists; getting into the thick of the business of music is really the key to their understanding of the booking process. I know that, which is why I try and give them face time with the agents.
Hopefully Berklee-ites…As this was first written for Berklee’s intern blog, I needed to address them head on. But you know, for all those who did not get into Berklee, got into, but could not afford Berklee, go somewhere else less fanatically music-oriented, or just answer “uh…Berkeley?” when asked about the Boston Music School, you can insert the name of your own school where-ever you see that moniker; making this as close to a real one-on-one with me — as that is less and less likely to happen the busier I get in this race to the finish — instead of the usual impersonal read you get off a blog like this one.
So, let’s start this again. Hopefully (Insert Your School Name Here & add the “ites” or just add, “all the young dudes and dudettes”) reading this will have a career where they can afford to shave off a nice percentage for a manager; one who understands all this tangential business kind of stuff and can honestly oversee the marketing. For nowadays, you need the right kind of marketing crew who knows how to use all the bleeding-edge tools-of-the-minute in order to shoot your career into the stratosphere, and, even more important, keep it there. Before you do, there is one basic term you need to understand. It’s not too hard to get, though I am perplexed when starving artists don’t even have this tool tucked under their belts. Perhaps that’s why they are starving?
I often like to compare business practices of other industries and to take the lessons learned to apply it towards a music career. The other day, I was thinking about the food industry and it was so much like our world in music. I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family and started helping my parents’ restaurant business when I was still in elementary school so many of these lessons came quite early in life.
Here in Portland, OR, most people are starting their food business in the form of a food cart. It’s less expensive, there’s less risk, and you’re often grouped together in a “pod” of other food carts so often times you’ll just get crowds of hungry people who would like some food but are unsure of what they’d like yet (or you can be exposed to the customers of other carts). Picture yourself as a chef who wants to make a living doing what they love for a living: cooking. Not much unlike the music industry isn’t it?
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!
I’ve seen oodles of bands perform over the years in dark and dingy small clubs to soft seat theatres to hockey arenas. I’ve seen some of the world’s best and quite possibly the worst. I’ve also worked one-on-one with countless musicians and aside from sheer musical talent, one of the things that separates the good from the great is confidence.
When I think of bands without confidence, I think of shoegazers for example. You know, those bands who stand on stage and simply stare at their feet, too shy to truly connect with the audience. Too nervous to even look up and be ‘present’, for fear of being judged.
Think about it. Who’s more entertaining to watch on stage? Someone who has no confidence can be incredibly boring. In fact, you don’t even watch them, you end up watching the other guys.
Eight years ago, I left college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music. Untested and honestly, quite naive, I spent the next three years using money from designing websites freelance to ineffectively tour as an artist around the country, gigging myself into over $6k of high interest credit card debt. Embarrassed and defeated, I stopped writing, I stopped playing music outside of my home, and my answer to “what do you do?” begrudgingly changed from music to websites.
Fast forward to today and I’ve been debt free for over 2 years. Within that time, I self-funded my own full-length record from cash and recently started a music marketing company to promote independent artists. I took 2 months, wrote/recorded and shot a video for one song a week about anything my blog readers submitted and released them all for FREE, and I’m currently in the process of booking the most extensive tour I’ve ever played.
How did I do it? I want to show you and show that you can too with 5 simple rules.
Yesterday a friend of mine called me with a question. His band had been contacted (via ReverbNation) by a company who claimed that they were a publishing and licensing firm in Los Angeles. Oooooh Los Angeles.
The company told him that they saw his profile, liked one of his songs, and thought they could get their song placed in Television and Film, but of course there was a price, three hundred dollars to be exact ($300!!!). For this price the company would spend the next year getting the band’s music out there…. rrrrrrright.
See this example contains all of the classic signs you’re being scammed and they are…
The zombie apocalypse has eroded into the music world. For every person that decides to pursue a career in the music industry, there is another that is paralyzed in a state of limbo, eyes glazed over fixating on the the current sentiment of the socio-economic climate brainwashing them into believing- “there just ‘aint enough (paying gigs, deals, quality tours..[insert your ideal music career scenario here] etc.. )to go around.” If you’re not careful, your career could be over before it even gets started simply by inadvertently allowing your mindset to fall victim to the fickle, ever-wavering mood of the economic atmosphere.
Sadly, for some, this may very well be true, but it doesn’t have to apply to you. As a savvy indie musician, you owe it to yourself to run a regular inventory check on your mental approach to your music career. The notion that our thoughts create or sabotage our own success is a real phenomena… I promise, I’m not trying to turn you into a magical law-of-attraction fairy - but I assure you, I’m not the first person to suggest that the link is crucial. Don’t believe me? Brian Thompson over at The Thorny Bleeder.com has a wonderful post on your thoughts and their link to your success here.
Friends, the truth is, identifying and defining key areas in your outlook regarding your expertise, and the opportunities available to you form a sturdy protection barrier for your perception - (which is directly linked to your motivation) - and ultimately poises you for a greater likelihood of success. As for success, it’s all relative. It’s up to you to do the maintenance to ensure you attain it, how you want it, and on your own terms. Understanding the power of self-discovery and awareness is a priceless, invaluable tool in your musician’s toolbox. Here are a few ways to nurture and stay high on your own supply.
Let’s paint a scenario. Let’s say you’ve got some great music. You’re an up-and-coming independent. It doesn’t matter who you are - the songwriter, the producer, the artist, the manager, or the indie label owner. You’ve generated some pretty good buzz for that music. And, you happen to have $5000 to spend. What should you spend it on? What would really help advance your career?
A. Spend it on advertising
B. Spend it going on tour
C. Hire a publicist
D. Hire a lawyer
E. Hire a college radio promoter
And the correct answer is…
In any industry you go into, there are always two types of people: People that take action, and people that don’t. In fact, let’s not limit that to industries people are in. In LIFE, there are two types of people…
The people who take action are the people who usually end up getting further. They are brave enough to make things happen, and even if they don’t work out as planned, they can always give it another go.
So why am I talking about taking action? Simple, because this is exactly what a lot of musicians fail to do!
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