Making It In Music

SFHH Logo 250X2501. THE INFECTION

It’s either a song or a video, you hear it or see it and say to yourself I WANNA DO THAT! That’s what created classic rock in the U.S., everybody seeing the Beatles on “Ed Sullivan” and picking up instruments and playing in bands.

The trappings always count. But they can never be the essence. When you’re young you want to be famous, everybody wants to be rich. But if these are more important than the music itself, you’ll probably have a very short career.

2. PLAYING

You ask your parents to buy you a Strat.

In the old days, you could learn how to play in school. Before people believed taxes were bad and not only were school music programs excised, teachers had to bring in their own paper, kids had to bring in all their supplies.

So the pool of musicians is smaller than ever before. I’m talking about people who have experience playing an instrument. Yes, you can create music using a computer program, but it’s not the same thing. One can argue strongly that those who use the computer tools best are those with the greatest underpinning in music education.

3. LESSONS    

There are a few self-starters who can do without, but they’re the very small minority. Furthermore, you build upon fundamentals, get them wrong and you’re just reinforcing bad habits.

You can take classes in person, you can take them online, but it’s best to learn from a teacher.

4. PRACTICE

May not make perfect, but it makes you a whole hell of a lot better than everybody else. You should be able to switch keys on the fly. You should feel as comfortable playing as talking.

5. PLAYING 2

At first you play in your bedroom, then you play with others. You learn from others. Sure, there are the exceptions who create great tracks in their bedrooms, alone, but they are rare. Playing with others you learn so much.

Like how good or bad you are.

Good players want to play with better players. If you’re bad, you’re gonna be with the other losers.

6. THE TROUGH

You’ve put in all this time.

First, you have to evaluate if you’ve got it. If your friends have so much more skill than you, if you’d rather watch ESPN than practice, you’re a hobbyist. That’s fine, the sooner you own it the better.

7. PLAYING LIVE

Gigs are hard to get and you’re gonna suck.

Friends give you gigs. If the venue owner is not your friend, if you have no relationship, unless you can show a track record, and as a beginner, you’ve got none, your efforts will be fruitless. Who does your father know? Does someone in the band know… Play school events for free. You know you’re worth getting paid when if you say you’ll pass, you won’t do it for free, suddenly an offer of cash comes through. It’s raw capitalism, supply and demand.

8. THE ARC

If it’s getting harder to get gigs, get better or give up.

9. RECORDINGS

No one wants to hear your recordings except your fans. You’ve got none. Your mother and friends might be interested, but they’re not honest reflectors. Until someone not related demands tracks, you’re not good enough yet.

Your first recordings will suck. Just like playing your instrument, recording is a skill, that you learn.

10. DEMAND

There will be next to none even if your recordings are good. If you haven’t done the work, there will be no demand at all. If you’re depressed and want to give up, do so.

11. VIDEO

If you’re getting positive response, if you’re getting better, post your music online, in both MP3 format and YouTube videos. These are land mines waiting to be discovered. You hope you become so successful everybody wants to check out everything you’ve already done. Promotion is worthless. Everybody’s overloaded with too much information. Presence online gives you the possibility of traction.

12. AFTER TRACTION

Then you play bigger and better venues, mobilize your fanbase by giving them perks, which will motivate them to spread the word, and continue to make live performances and recordings available online.

But still most people won’t care. You’re an amateur.

13. GETTING LUCKY

If you’re working the connections to break through, you probably won’t. You’ll get the opportunity, but you’ll fail. Today there’s a plethora of people looking for talent. If you’re good, they’ll find you. First it might only be venue owners, gigs will become less rare and better. Then it will be agents and recording companies. Development will be slow, but you can feel it. If years go by without this development, get better, give up, or change musical direction.

14. GIVING UP YOUR DAY JOB

This is more important than getting a deal. Record companies don’t support bands anymore, only Top Forty phenoms. If you can’t make it alone, you’re never gonna survive. Don’t complain, keep working, or give up.

15. BUZZ

You will continue to grow if you’ve got it.

16. SUCCESS

Will come much later than you think, long after you’ve become comfortable being a journeyman. It takes just that long to reach everybody and convince them today.

SHORTCUTS

1. TV TALENT SHOWS

It’s about television, not music.

Odds of success are low even if you win.

As for the exposure, you just become a trivia question.

Furthermore, they’re looking for pretty people with good voices. You need neither to make it in music, only on TV.

2. GARAGEBAND

Just because you can make it, that does not mean anybody wants to hear it.

3. POSTING & iTUNES

Just because it’s available to view and buy, that doesn’t mean anybody wants to see it or purchase it.

4. CDs

A souvenir to be sold at gigs, nothing more. Anybody who will get you ahead does not want a CD.

5. YOUTH

You’ve got nothing to say. And like a date with a beautiful person with no personality, it doesn’t last.

6. TV SHOWS & ENDORSEMENTS

Tying in with a corporation or getting your music in the background of a TV show may yield some cash, but it will never yield a career, not unless you’ve got one to begin with.

THE HIDDEN SECRET

WRITE

Because that’s where all the money is, in publishing.

It takes years to be able to write good material. Start now. Right after  you learn how to play your instrument.

IF YOU’VE GIVEN UP AND STILL WANT TO BE IN MUSIC

Go into the business.

You do this by working for free. Not even as an intern at an established entity. But by being on the college concert committee, helping manage a friend’s band… None of this is for money, it’s all for experience.

The easiest way to make it in the business is by attaching yourself to a great act. But great acts tend to want experienced people. They leave you for those with more seasoning, with connections. Furthermore, there are few great acts out there.

Many are clamoring to work in the business. Even if you get a gig, it’s gonna be hard to keep it. Enjoy the ride, don’t be in it for the money. Those in it for the money, who make it, could have made it doing anything, it’s their personality.

Furthermore, there just ain’t that much money in music anymore.

FINALLY

Nobody needs your music. They need air, food and water. And personal, physical comfort. If you want a career in music you must do your best to be necessary. And that’s got nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with the music itself, which is all based on the bedrock outlined above.

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