Music and Career Advice
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  • 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: 913

  • 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: 1034

  • 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:
    http://tinyurl.com/magizooitunes
    http://tinyurl.com/themagizoologists
    i love youtube boys/girls t shirt:
    http://hopeonatenspeed.spreadshirt.com
    bandcamp:
    http://hopeonatenspeed.bandcamp.com
    twitter:
    http://twitter.com/hopeonatenspeed

    August 29, 2012 • Interviews, Music and Career Advice • Views: 1169