Author archives

  • Touring, Studio, and Local Musicians | Music Career Choices Part I

    The Different Types of Performing Musicians

    There are really three main types of musicians – the local musician, the touring musician and the studio musician. More than ever, musicians are choosing to do a combination of both, but we’ll try to break down the two options for you anyway. The career that you choose is based on your future goals. Here I will explain the difference between the local musician and the solo musician as well as the different variables that affect the career path that you choose.

    The local musician is often what is sarcastically referred to as the “starving musician”. The local musician has regular gigs. They are in the bands that you find at weddings, parties, and they play in the same club every Friday night. Their gigs pay usually $50 to $200 on average, and the musicians usually work most nights of the week playing local gigs.

    The touring musician is rarer than the local musician. It can be really hard to make it as a touring musician, and if you plan on becoming one, make sure you really practice. The touring musician spends the majority of the year out on the road in different states, different countries, etc. with different groups and artists.

    If the touring musician has the opportunity to tour not only as a sideman, but as a headliner, they are always being featured and their names are the ones you see on headliners. Their schedules are always full and they are always getting called for bigger and better things.

    Becoming a studio musician is also incredibly difficult. To perform as a studio musician, you usually have to play a variety of instruments at a very high level. You also have to be an expert in a variety of musical genres – everything from pop music to classical.

    How to Choose What is Best for You

    Your music career choices are greatly affected by your personal choices. You have to consider what you most enjoy about music – is it being on stage performing in front of people, is it being in the studio or “behind the scenes” or just getting out and playing because you enjoy it (and it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you’re playing). Sometimes, the career you have isn’t what you expect or planned, but it is also important to keep your musical goals and dreams in the back of your mind.

    Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

    August 30, 2012 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1003

  • Words of Wisdom from Phil Sobel

    We interviewed saxophonist and educator Phil Sobel a few years ago in partnership with Rheuben Allen Saxophones. Phil Sobel is a world-renowned saxophonist and educator and he has made a huge impact on a number of saxophonists all over the world. He kindly did an interview with us, answering several of our questions and as part of the interview he offered up and coming saxophonists the following advice:

    “Sax players don’t have same respect for their instrument as for example, oboe players, which is why a lot of saxophonists have such a bad reputation.”

    “Alto sax has the most complex sound of any instrument, which makes it one of the hardest instruments to sound good on.”

    “Violinists don’t think, ‘If you play my horn you’ll be a better player’ like sax players do with mouthpieces and setups. So don’t make a big issue out of stuff like that. It just doesn’t mean anything to anyone else but you. Everyone is unique in what will work for them.”

    “Professor is not a fathering (or mothering) relationship, so do not form this relationship with your students.”

    “Confident does not mean egotistical.”

    “Talent doesn’t mean you will reach your full potential, you have to work hard to get there. Skill really has nothing to do about talent, people really only use 6 to 8% of their potential if they just go off talent.”

    “Praise – every student is different – just be honest and don’t teach negatively. In other words, ‘Doing it better but not quite right.'”

    “You can be an accomplished musician, but not a good one. You have to be vulnerable to the audience to really get to that place.”

    “Work hard and be a scientist. Observe –the key to all knowledge is to be curious.”

    “Music is not made up of lines – it is made up of ovals and circles. Time is a continuum, circular.”

    “No one learns from imitating – you learn from listening and adding what you learn to your own vocabulary. Learn music in the same way you learn to speak. At first you copy the words your parents (other musicians) say, and over time, you eventually develop enough vocabulary to form your own thoughts into sentences.”

    “School education now is terrible – you have to reeducate kids when you get them as students. Take everything with a grain of salt and get a good private teacher who knows what they are talking about. In music education, Sax not really appreciated – with university students 75% have not had lessons.”

    as dictated by Phil Sobel March 07, 2007

    Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

    August 30, 2012 • Interviews, Music and Career Advice • Views: 1080

  • Finding Work as a Musician | Starting Your Career Part I

    One of the greatest difficulties in becoming a musician is starting to find work. Most kids that graduate from college do not yet have steady work in music, and many are not even sure about how to approach beginning their career.

    The music world is enormous, and when you are fresh out of college, it can be overwhelming. You go from competing with musicians 4 to 6 years older or younger than you to competing with people who have been playing 40 years longer than you. It may not seem fair, but that’s the way it always has been and very likely how it always will be. Showing initiative and using what skills you have to your advantage will go a long way in establishing the foundation of your career in music.

    Know that you can’t sit around waiting for opportunities to come knocking at your door. That just doesn’t happen. The best way to get out there and find work is to create the opportunities yourself. If no one else will hire you for their band, hire them for yours.

    The first thing to do is hit local venues such as cafes and retirement homes. These are places where you will find your presence and playing the most appreciated. Cafes and senior citizen centers often do not already have live entertainment (or are looking for more), and will most likely love the idea of introducing it into their centers. Keep in mind, however, that these efforts will often be unpaid monetarily, but you’ll make up for it in experience and have appreciative audiences.

    Create a demo CD with three or four tracks that you feel are the best representations of you or your group and bring it with you to local venues. Often, people will want to hear you before they hire you, so it is best to have a sample of what you do available.

    A lot of young musicians tend to rely on their schools – this is the biggest mistake you can make. School is not always going to be there to help you out, pat your back, and push you along. It comes to a point that your career is 100% based on your personal efforts to get out there and find work. The only person who is going to do anything for you is YOU. If something is going to get done, it is because you are going to do it. Sometimes this means trucking out to venues to meet the person who books entertainment, sometimes this means cold-calling, and sometimes this even means taking gigs that you’d rather not have to do. Music, if you are pursuing it as a career, is work. It’s your job, and so, there will be days were it isn’t fun. Just keep the big picture in mind and all of those things will be worth it in the long run.

    Jam sessions! Can’t get your own gig? Go play at a jam session just for the experience of performing live. Some young musicians believe that you have to be paid to play anywhere other than your own bedroom. This is definitely not true. You will find that a lot of your playing initially will be for free, and that’s okay. By “paying your dues,” you are getting out, gaining experience and growing as a player, which is more important than doing one gig every few months that pays however much money.

    The more you play, no matter how much it pays, the more people see you and hear you – creating more popularity as an artist. If you are popular with the listeners, you create a better chance of being hired by other musicians or by venues because you have a following and will bring more people to the gig. Having people come to a gig is important because it increases the chances of the venue hiring the group again because they are making more money when you are there.

    Surround yourself with other people who are going to want you to get better and pressure you into working hard in a positive way. The fastest ways to improve are peer pressure, embarrassment, competition, and frustration. But be careful to avoid negative peer pressure. Don’t put yourself in a situation that will lead you into wanting to quit music instead of improve.

    And don’t forget that one of the best ways to figure something out by doing it poorly a few times. If you are not ready to start working as a musician now, take a few small steps that you’re comfortable with in that direction. It is really important to get out there, meet people, market yourself, and show initiative – it goes a long way.

    Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals</a>.

    August 30, 2012 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1054

  • Being Young in the Music World

    The greatest struggle young jazz musicians face, is truly knowing what one needs to do to get their career started. When you first start out, it seems as simple as just playing your instrument. What few realize, is that there numerous other elements imperative to becoming a professional musician.

    Music, at times, can seem overwhelming. How do you get gigs? Where do you get ideas for projects, CDs, compositions? What is all that equipment attached to that person’s instrument?

    The solution to your questions and concerns lies with studying under a good teacher. A good teacher should be able to answer your questions because they have had experience as a professional musician. A good teacher should also be able to “kick your butt” – tell you when you are doing poorly and tell you how to fix it. They will also help you find your own shape as a musician and not mold you into their clone.

    The next thing that you really need to start working on, after developing beyond basic proficiency on your instrument, are connections. Your connections really start with the students you play with in band and with your teachers. I personally think that your private teacher (if they are a working, professional musician) can be your best connection. If you have potential, you try hard, and you do what he or she tells you, they will notice. If you get to a high enough level, they may even recommend you for gigs or invite you to sit in with them at their performances. Also, if you go to their gigs, you get to hear live music and meet more professional musicians (if your teacher introduces you to who he or she is playing with) – thus, more professional musicians that you know. Meeting other musicians and networking is very important – it gets your foot in the door of the music world.

    Another important thing to do is listen and “steal”, or emulate things other players do. You need to develop a sense of what you like, what you want to sound like (what sounds good to you?). Listening to other musicians play creates an awareness of what other people are doing. You begin hearing and deciding what you think sounds cool, learn it, and make it your own. Initially, it is important to emulate other players’ ideas to begin building up your jazz vocabulary. Your jazz vocabulary is the foundation for anything you can play – so the more you know, the more you can do.

    As far as establishing yourself as a musician at a young age, the process is very difficult. Because you are young, not very many people will be willing to take you seriously. The only way to really change this is by actually being able to play well. To be taken seriously as a musician is like being one of the adults. So, in a way, to be seen as one, you have to play like one (and act like one). There really isn’t a way to cheat the system and to be taken seriously as a young musician with little skill. Adult musicians who perform poorly aren’t even taken seriously.

    Lastly, and most importantly, is that you practice. The only way to get better is to practice. The greatest misunderstanding is that you are practicing if you are playing something you already know – it’s not. Working on something you don’t know is practicing. Think about it – playing or working. When you practice, it isn’t supposed to sound good. You are improving something you can’t do, so it will be awkward and you will make mistakes. If you only work while you are practicing, it can be very easy to get burnt out on your instrument or with music in general. It is important to spend some time just playing and having fun (as long as you don’t confuse playing with practicing).

    It isn’t always fun being a young musician but you are at an important stage in your development – socially and musically – both essential to who you will become as a professional musician. It is important that you don’t try to rush either aspect of your personal development.

    A lot of young musicians tend to compare themselves to how other musicians play. It is important to learn that sometimes people may not be better or worse than you – just different. They may do some things better than you, but you may also do other things better than them. If they do something that you wish you could do more like them, just figure out how they are doing it and learn to do it too (or ask them!).

    Expanding your ability and versatility on your instrument will help you grow as a young musician and it is easier to learn while you are young, so it is best to start now.[1] The foundations of your musicianship are set with what you are doing now – don’t let yourself miss out on any opportunities.

    Want more tips? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.


    1. There is actually a good argument that it is not easier to learn when you’re young, it’s actually that you have more energy and free time to dedicate yourself to learning different skills. Therefore, if you are not necessarily a “young” musician, that doesn’t mean it’s too late. If you put in the time, you can get far.

    August 30, 2012 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 957

  • Working As Your Own Manager | The DIY Musician

    As an upcoming artist trying to pave your way and setup your A-team, the difference between a manager, booking agent, and publicist can be pretty blurred. So, to start out, it is important to clarify the difference (especially since it’s illegal in some states for one person to take on more than one of those roles).

    A manager is usually the first person an up and coming artist has or should have to help them out. For many young artists, a parent or both parents act as their manager(s). In essence, a manager is an artist’s consultant – they offer an artist advice and guidance about which steps they need to take to further develop their career. A manager established in the industry would also be able to provide their artist(s) with the necessary contact information to get a hold of record labels, etc. They negotiate on the artist’s behalf and often play the “bad guy” in different situations so that the artist doesn’t have to do it and can maintain their image when and if things go wrong. If you were to hire a manager, they typically charge 15-50% commission.

    In comparison, a booking agent gets an artist gigs. A booking agent contacts promoters and venues to book your act. How valuable you are to the agent determines how hard they work to get you gigs. A booking agent will take about 10% of the money you get for a show. One thing regarding booking agents to be aware of, is what is written in your agreement with them. Some booking agents require that they have 100% rights to who gets to book you, meaning you cannot even book gigs for yourself. You want to try to avoid this – at least until you are certain that they will get you enough work.

    Lastly, a publicist is the one who gets you exposure to the press as an artist. They send out a press release to television stations, radio stations, newspapers, etc. to try to get you interviewed or featured. A publicist can charge anywhere from $500-3,000 and up a month.

    If you are not up to being your own manager/booking agent/publicist, you may want to hire someone to fill one, two or all three of these roles. However, keep in mind that most managers, booking agents and publicists will not take you on unless you have a record deal, get radio airplay, or are an established artist. Doing all these things on your own can be pretty difficult, but if you find that you want to or have no other options, here are a few suggestions to increase your chances of success:

    1. Perseverance – One of the most important qualities to have is perseverance. For every ten times you are told “no”, one person will say “yes” – you just have to have the drive to keep going and trying after you are told “no” so many times.

    2. When you are told “no” – An important thing to learn now is that when someone tells you “no”, it isn’t anything personal. Music is a business; they have to look out for the company’s best interests and sometimes, that may not include you. Besides, they probably told twenty other people “no” that day before you. But, when someone does say “no”, take it as a chance to ask about other opportunities. In the case of a promoter, ask about future events that still have openings or contact information for another local promoter that still might have openings. Never let a conversation end at “no”. This applies to anyone that you will talk to – record labels, managers, promoters, booking agents, and publicists. When its appropriate, you may even ask why you were told no and if there is something you can improve upon in the future.

    3. Always say “thank you, regardless of the response you get – People in the music business (like any other business) are very busy. You should be grateful you even got them on the phone or received an email response at all. Always say thank you. It will help build the foundation for a better relationship in the future.

    4. Be over prepared – Have extra press kits pre-assembled so you can send them out the door last minute. Always carry CDs, promotional materials, and business cards with you wherever you go. You never know who you might run into.

    5. Be cautious – Name dropping can be very dangerous. Down the road you will find that the music business is a very small world – everyone knows everyone else. You may say something slightly exaggerated, only to find out that the person you are talking to is best friends with the person you were just talking about. NEVER EVER SAY ANYTHING BAD ABOUT ANOTHER ARTIST. And I mean never. It is the fastest way to make enemies. You may bash someone the person you are talking to dislikes, but they will still wonder what you say about them when they are not there. It is not a good way to network and form relationships.

    6. Be honest – Tell the truth when speaking to people, when writing bios, articles, press kit information. If you lie, you will be found out very quick.

    For more information about booking your own gigs, and getting work as a musician, be sure to read Part II: Working as Your Own Booking Agent.


    Commission – The percentage of money that your manager or booking agent will take off of the money that you make for a gig.

    Promoter – Someone who books large events such as concerts and festivals.

    Venues – Anywhere that offers or has the potential to offer live music; a coffee house, bar, restaurant, theater, winery, etc…

    Press Release – A statement written to the press giving information on an artist or a CD release. (One Page)

    Press Kit – a package of promotional material given to the press to inform them about an artist.

    Name Dropping – using someone else’s name to make yourself look better.

    Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

    August 30, 2012 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1074

  • Success as a YouTube Musician @hopeonatenspeed | Careers in Music

    I thought the best way to start our new series of Careers in Music would be to commence with one of the most contemporary careers in music possible. So, I approached a good friend who fills that job description perfectly and YouTube Musician/Personality, Paige (username @hopeonatenspeed) was kind enough to grant me an interview – and film a video with her!

    For those of you who don’t know, you CAN make a career in music by creating Youtube videos! A few examples of people who do this include Pomplamousse and of course our interview guest Paige.

    Youtube is a great tool for promotion. Whether you use it to make money on its own or just as a promotional tool for your career and music. Our guest, Paige, has managed to make the best of both worlds. She writes creative, funny, and entertaining songs which she posts on her Youtube channel AND has an album out which includes a small selection of some of her songs.

    Youtube is a really great way to connect with people and to let others get to know you and your music. It also has the potential to be yet another venue for creative output for you and your music.

    If you don’t already have a Youtube account, I suggest making one. It took me way too long to discover what to do with mine, so learn from my mistake. Start posting videos of your performances, of you talking about your music, or of you just singing or playing in front of the camera. Share whatever you feel expresses who you are and what you are about as an artist!

    The internet has provided a great way for everyone to connect and share and Youtube is just one of those fantastic mediums. Connect with your audience!

    For more about Paige:
    Her wrock album:
    i love youtube boys/girls t shirt:

    August 29, 2012 • Interviews, Music and Career Advice • Views: 1209

  • U-Nam | Weekend in LA: A Tribute to George Benson Review

    Today marks the official US release date for French guitarist U-Nam’s George Benson Tribute Project, “Weekend in L.A.” The album has already made it to #1 on iTunes in Japan for Jazz, the Top 13 on Amazon in the US and has been a Top 5 for radio stations throughout Europe and the world.

    “Weekend in L.A” provides fans with a fresh perspective on many of Benson’s most popular songs with the playing and performances comparable to the great artist himself. The songs are reinterpreted in a way that not only remains true to George Benson, but leaves listeners with something new, fresh and exciting. One definitely has reason to listen to and enjoy the album on it’s own and without comparison.

    With this album, U-Nam’s goal was to provide tribute to an artist who served as a significant musical influence while taking classic songs and making them his own with a soulful and urban touch. In other words, only U-Nam could successfully incorporate rap into the R&B classic “On Broadway.” That’s not to say, of course, that Jeff Lacey’s well composed lyrics didn’t help in the success of this feat – it’s quite the contrary! In fact, Lacey’s cleverly crafted words appear on more than one track on the album.

    Weekend in LA, a tribute to George Benson The project also features the talents of many renowned musicians including Phil Perry, Ronnie Foster, George Duke, Marcus Miller, Michael White, Wah Wah Watson, Patrice Rushen, Stockley Williams, Paul Jackson Jr, and more. Despite the amazing list of guests, however, the real stars are vocalist Tim “TiO” Owens and U-Nam himself. Tim Owens is a huge part of the album, appearing as the primary vocalist on the majority of the tracks. He does a fantastic job performing the different pieces, namely my favorite track from the album “Give Me the Night.” Of course, as for U-Nam, there are no words to describe his excellent playing and all the heart he poured into putting together this album.

    Although I was a part of this project since it’s inception and performed as part of the horn section, I did not have the opportunity to hear the songs in their entirety until the album was mixed and mastered. Like anyone else, the first time I heard each of the songs from start to finish and without pause was when I received a finished copy of the album. When I finally had the hard copy, I was very impressed with how it all came together, especially since I had the opportunity to see all the work that went into the project behind the scenes.

    Because of U-Nam’s tribute, I personally have found a reason to connect with the music of George Benson and that of artists that came a generation or two before me. That’s not to say I was not a fan of Benson – I’ve always appreciated his great artistry – but U-Nam’s contemporary versions of his music provided me with the means to relate to the songs and the music in a way that didn’t exist for me before the release of this album.

    Overall, I think the album is amazingly put together. U-Nam combines the talent of a large collection of musicians from a diverse range of genres, bringing them all together to pay tribute to a great artist. I give this album two thumbs up and I definitely have to say it is my favourite tribute albums by far.

    Track listing:

    1. Weekend in L.A (feat. Andreas Oberg & Ronnie Foster)
    2. Give Me the Night (feat. Tim “Tio” Owens)
    3. Shiver (feat. Paul Jackson Jr & Tim “Tio” Owens)
    4. Love X Love
    5. Nature Boy (feat. Stokley Williams)
    6. This Masquerade (feat. Marcus Miller, Phil Perry, Tim “Tio” Owens, Jeff Lacey & George Duke)
    7. Hip Skip
    8. I Just Wanna Hang Around You (feat. Tim “Tio” Owens)
    9. Turn Your Love Around
    10. Before You Go / Breezin’ (feat. Patrice Rushen)
    11. On Broadway (feat. Tim “Tio” Owens & Jeff Lacey)

    Buy the album Weekend In L.A ( A Tribute To George Benson ) | Download the album Weekend in L.A (A Tribute to George Benson )

    August 29, 2012 • Reviews • Views: 1403