Music career: make a career in the music industry

This column is simply some general words of advice for aspiring musicians. These comments reflect only my personal experience and observation and you will find people who will disagree with me. With that caveat, take it for what it is worth.

The first thing all musicians must do is act professional. The people who have power in the music industry (record labels, club owners, managers, etc.) are professionals. Music is their full-time business and their livelihood. They expect to be treated with respect. By acting professional, you immediately rise to another level in their eyes. When a musician calls me on the phone, I can tell in a relatively short period of time whether they are someone I should take seriously, i.e. professional. This sentiment is mirrored by countless other music industry insiders I have spoken with. Professionalism will take a band a long way.

A similar bit of advice is to educate yourself about the entertainment industry. It is not called the music business for nothing. Learn how record contracts work. Learn about copyrights. Learn who the major players are in your area of music. Take time outside of creating music to understand the way the industry works. There are many books on the entertainment business. Reading the columns on this Web site is another step in educating yourself. Pick up a copy of Donald Passman's "Everything You Wanted to Know About the Music Industry." A little bit of knowledge will take you a long way.

The third bit of advice is to network. I hate this word but there is no substitute to meeting people who can help your career. Contacts are very important. Word of mouth is the best reference. Talk to club owners, magazine publishers, representatives, lawyers, etc. Don't approach them with a hard sell of your band, but from a personal standpoint. Meet them, keep in contact with them, and use them down the line when the time is right. The 80's are dead, but networking will always remain.

Notice that none of my advice deals with your music. That is because creating music is a very personal and creative endeavor. Who am I (or anyone else for that matter) to tell you your music is bad or you are not talented. The points above are things that I feel are important in addition to having musical talent. Talent is not the sole indicator of success as a glance at Billboard's Top 100 will tell you.

The final element is lady luck. There is just no substitute for it. It helps to be in the right place at the right time. Nothing you can do can increase this crucial element. However, faithfully following the previous suggestions will lessen the need for luck. Professionalism, education and networking are all steps on the route to success.

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