No I can’t make you famous. No one can. That’s not how this works. So why do people like me need to explain this to musicians all the time? Fame is a very intangible thing – and in this day and age it’s largely purchased. By hiring a producer, manager or promoter you’re probably not going to get famous right away. In fact, even having rad music and an entire team behind you does not guarantee that you will make it. It’s only one step forward. Here’s the thing – we live in a world where fame is bought – and any one who tells you otherwise, or that it was ‘better back in their day’ is woefully misguided.
Entries in professional musician (17)
All too often, we get wrapped up in new tactics, new ideas, new plans and new ways of getting bigger and better as musicians. With social media and the internet, there’s so much information that it’s almost become immeasurable.
This is great and all, but maybe we sometimes lose sight of what we shouldn’t be doing.
There’s lots of stupid shit you shouldn’t be doing.
Here’s a quick guide to what you shouldn’t be doing.
THE PERSONAL ELEMENT
- Don’t ever stop practicing your instrument.
- Don’t be an asshole.
- Don’t WANT WANT WANT WANT. Learn to give back first.
- Don’t get defensive. Learn to take constructive criticism.
- Don’t forget to learn how to take destructive criticism, too. You’ll get a lot more of it than you think.
- Don’t forget that everyone’s an asshole.
- Don’t stop learning.
There is no doubt about it, music is fun- and it should be. For many, however, music is work. For these people music pays the bills, supports their livelihood, and puts food on their table. For these individuals who work in the music industry whether it be as performers, technicians, music teachers, managers, journalists, or marketers maintaining a level of professionalism is essential.
“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” - Tom Bodett
Music schools might be great for really helping you fine-tune your musicianship skills, but there are some lessons that they don’t cover which you’ll need to know for your career. Here are six things that you should know that aren’t covered in curriculum:
- Dillon Roulet | The Musician of Oz
The major symphony orchestras in the United States are facing an increasingly dire financial situations – not just because of a decrease in consumer demand and a decade of economic recessions – but because of systemic, short-sighted and self-inflicted deficiencies in their current business models. But it doesn’t have to be like this.
A musician-for-hire is someone who provides a service to an event coordinator, talent buyer, or group of people that caters to the event’s specific needs and generates a notable yearly income.
You know, the guy that’s singing “Don’t Stop Believing” in the background of a picture-perfect wedding reception, or the guy kicking off “Hava Nagila” at the most anticipated Bar Mitzvah of the year. Even the cover band at the coolest bar in town is an example of musicians-for-hire work. There’s plenty of work like this out there for us to make a living from - but how do you set yourself apart from the rest of the bands trying to compete for these kind of gigs?
Well, although there’s no short answer, there are several steps you can take to set yourself ahead of the competition and create a “wow-factor” for yourself. Indulge:
This is part 1 of a 2 part article I wrote strictly based on my professional experience producing and engineering and managing artists. Since 2006, I’ve been involved as a key member in several music groups, labels, and production teams that despite all their potential to achieve greatness, fail and fall apart, often at critical moments.
In tighter financial times everyone would like to save some money on their musical purchases. This guide can help you save some money when shopping for musical equipment. So lets say you are about to buy some new instruments or some studio equipment, that can cost serious money when you opt for the best quality items. We are currently in a recession and it seems that there is some positive economic news of late on both sides of the big pond and that’s great. However most of us still need to watch the pennies and cents and there are ways that you can ensure you are getting the best possible deals on your equipment purchases. We can use the current situation to our advantage, as both musicians and retailers are experiencing the same economic conditions.
A session musician typically plays for multiple bands and artists. Many musicians dream of becoming a session musician, sitting in on cool gigs, travelling with different outfits and generally being respected by their peers.
As you can imagine, session musicians need to be able to play many styles of music and need to be proficient in all of them. But what does it take to be a session musician?
When I was in college, I held several part time jobs to make ends meet. One of those part time jobs was playing guitar at a few restaurants every month. Nothing glamorous, but I was happy to be playing guitar. I started keeping track of how much money I made on those gigs to see if I could justify quitting one of the other part time jobs.
It turns out keeping a detailed list of my music income has served me well over the last 10 years. I was eventually able to justify quitting all of my day jobs and become a full time musician, and since being a full time musician, I’m able to keep a finger on the pulse of my various streams of musician income. Just as a shop owner keeps track of her inventory and carries whatever products are in demand, I’ve been able to assess and adjust my inventory of music jobs that keep me in business.
Over the last 10 years the way I make a living has changed dramatically. I’ve never made a lot of money, but I’ve been able to make more each year despite the changes in the music industry and economy in general. Here’s my method and what I’ve learned along the way.
A while ago, I wrote a piece about The Unspoken Rules of How to Treat a Touring Band. Basically, it was some rules on courtesy between bands show share a gig. After going on a few more tours myself, I wanted to share some additional advice on how to make shows run a little more smoothly and how you can be a little more professional in your gigging.
Here are some assorted tips on the pro’s do it:
Every now and then, I go on an open mic binge and discover new little spots and new artists honing their craft. There was this one girl who was absolutely amazing. I told her what I did and she started asking questions. Our conversation came around to how one can get the right exposure and further their career. I shared with her a lot of things, but one of them was about reaching out to industry insiders and building a professional network that will help propel her career forward. It’s not enough to play live. You have to also work hard at building your professional network in the music industry. Finding contact info is easy. There are directories and registries out there you can buy. However, there are some realities concerning industry people that you have to understand before you reach out to them. Or else, you’ll only annoy and alienate them. Here are those realities.
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.
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(Updated January 13, 2016)