Maintain a Career in Music

  • 02/15/2016
  • JamPlay, LLC

So you want a career in music, but don’t know where to start? The first thing you need to know before you consider a career in the music industry is that if you only intend to make money from playing, then you either need to be in a very successful band or have a big hit as a writer.

Generally, a career as a player is not guaranteed. If you go to law school and study to become a lawyer there is no guarantee that you will get a job straight way, but if you are good it is highly likely that there s a career pathway. Music is different, you can have every qualification under the sun and go to 100s of auditions, but that is no guarantee as no one is going to ask to see your qualifications when you audition for a gig. There is a stroke of luck and also knowing the right people is necessary to have a successful playing career. I am not saying this to discourage you, I am simply making you aware of what to expect before you start your journey.

The most important thing is that you focus on being a great musician and to keep a practice routine. You can be a great networker and have great business acumen, but if you haven’t practiced and do not deliver, then no one will want to play with you.

I have known people that are pretty average players that have such good people skills they have managed to land some great gigs. Conversely, I have known some really great players that are very socially awkward that never land any gigs.

Simply aiming to be a great player is not a guarantee of success, you must also work on your people skills, and become a person that people like to approach. Appearing standoffish or snobby is not going to serve you well. Shyness can sometimes come across this way, so try your best to talk with people and hand your card out. I am not saying you must be this larger than life big mouth, as this can have a negative effect, but simply be approachable and pleasant to be around.

One thing that you must always have are business cards. Every time you meet someone that is a musician or in the music industry, strike up a conversation and show interest in what they do, and then tell them you would like to stay in touch and offer them your business card. In showing an interest in them, you create an immediate sense of kinship and respect. Simply offering someone your card with no conversation may give him or her the impression that you are a user and only care about yourself. In engaging in conversation and showing interest, you show that you actually have an interest in knowing this person and they are more likely to have respect for you.

The best places to network would be music related events such as jam nights, record company parties or even various music association events (AFM, ASCAP, SESAC, etc). Try to join some of these associations if you are not already a member.

As well as playing, it is also important that you consider other options if you want an amazing career. Here are some ideas:
- Song writing.
- Teaching.
- Session work.
- Writin jingles.
There are a whole lot of other possibilities, this is just a short sample list. The main point is that you need to diversify. As I write this, I am on tour, but eventually tours end and you need to find other sources of income, such as teaching, producing backing tracks, writing articles and transcribing. I find that having a variety of things to do really makes music even more enjoyable. It is possible to get burned out from all the travel of life on the road – but it is also a LOT of fun! But it’s nice to also share my experiences with others and hopefully impart my knowledge onto you folks – which I why working for JamPlay is so much fun!I would recommend you find what you really want to do and focus on it, but also find other ways of making a living that will not detract from what you truly want to do. If you want to become a session player that can play in any style then focus on that, but also try and figure out other ways to supplement that dream. Putting all your eggs in one basket can pay off, but you could also end up with no money! So enjoy yourself, aim to be the best you can be and put yourself out there. With talent and hard work you will get to where you want to be. It may take time but be patient and you will get there in the end.