Making The Grade – Your Credentials will count for more in an evermore competitive climate
There has never been a more dynamic period in history for making and producing music. Time and time again I am asked; “What do I need to be a professional musician?” This is a $64,000.00 question and I don’t think there is a simple answer. Here are a couple of things to consider if you are aspiring to become a professional musician in today’s ever increasingly competitive market place.
Playing at a high level is now a given
Thanks to the explosion of talent showcased to us all courtesy of DCI Video (later Hudson DVD) and in turn, YouTube, everyone of my generation has had to work much harder to improve their playing and find their voice. Now, everybody is world class! It is vital that we continue to enjoy the journey. After all, drumming is music – an art form and not a sport. Take your time! There is no rush. Invest an equal amount of time listen to music, watching gigs as well as playing on the kit. Draw inspiration of everyone, everywhere!
Making the Grade – Do you have your credentials in place?
Let’s discuss this in two points because this is perhaps more important than your playing ability.
- Your Musical Credentials – Have you studied on a relevant music course? So many young musicians are studying Music Technology (which is a worthy subject and I’m not suggesting that it isn’t important) when what they really wanted was to study music performance. This can lead to dejection and result in either you not being ready for the market place or not wanting to be in it at all. Ask yourself this – can you read music? Many of the career professionals that I know get paid the most when they’re reading in theatres or on cruise ships. You overlook this vital asset at your peril! I cannot stress that enough! If you haven’t already done so, you should investigate taking a graded music exam. I think you will be shocked by the level that is required!
- What is your backup plan? Some of the best advice I was even given was given to me by my dad when I was sixteen.
If you’re serious about a career in music please consider studying business because the music will take care of itself.
This stands the test of time not only for working within the music business but all the skills associated with running a small business are transferable. You will be everything from cleaner to your own PR spokesperson – web guy to receptionist – tour manager to mechanic. And oh…. You may even play the drums from time-to-time!
You MUST consider your options. It is not a testament of failure to have more than one job! The sooner you realise that professionalism is an ethic and not a source of income, the happier you will be.
Thomas Lang recently gave two classes at MLC-Academy in Nottingham. His advice was clear and concise! If you want to succeed you have to be a nice person! It’s that simple! How much networking do you do? Social media is great but when was the last time you were seen at a jam session or at a local gig? This is where you will make your connections.
I have touched on this already. Can you;
- Record a session?
- Produce a video?
- Issue PR?
- Attend local networking sessions?
- Attend industry events?
- Produce a website?
- Manage your social Media?
…… The list goes on and on! You have have noticed that “play to a high level” didn’t even feature. It’s a given!
Above all else please remember this: A career in music is a lifestyle choice. It will give you many opportunities but it may take you years to realise your goals. Please continue to enjoy the journey and remember – don’t rush!