In an industry where our talent is our currency, product, and service, how can we possibly leave it at the door and why on God’s green earth should we?
I’ve been thinking about my journey within the music industry over the past few years and one of the major things that has stood out to me is the fact that talent will only get you so far. I’m nowhere near being the best drummer (literally not even close) and the same can be said of me as a Musical Director but what I am is hard working, professional and (from what I’ve been told) not too bad to work with either.
What lets a lot of us musicians down is that we’re short-sighted and don’t plan for longevity and successful careers within the music industry. Instead we go for the “popular” gig, which will gain us respect amongst our peers, and gigs that are in our musical comfort zones relying on a handful of people (and cliques) to call us for work.
We can’t be wholly reliant on our talent to open doors for us, because while it will (and should do), our talent isn’t what keeps doors open. As talented as you are; if you’re always late, turn up to rehearsals unprepared, don’t have the right gear, can’t take direction, are no fun to be around and want to fight whenever a payment takes longer than expected (this happens often) then you’ll quickly stop getting calls and the calls you will get will be the same in 10 years time as they are today.
What am I really saying when I say, “Leave Your Talent At The Door…” Don’t rely on your talent!!! You have to have a vision and a plan for your business. Having dreams of touring arenas week-in-week-out is great, but you can achieve that and still come home with no money if you don’t know how to manage money and how to build your business (don’t ever get it twisted – you’re never just a musician – you’re a business and your business should always be growing) through strategic marketing, branding, networking, investment and making sure that your talent is backed up with substance and professionalism.
The key things to take from all of this are:
Balance is important… Don’t be so engrossed in your instrument that you lose your ability to communicate with people on a conversational level or musical level (play with the band and for the song).
Be about your business… What gigs/opportunities will lead to you having the longest possible career? Are you hustling or are you building? Always think about the long game and make entrepreneurial decisions.
Develop you character… How will you handle late payments or cancelled shows/tours? What do you do when things aren’t going well? Sit and sulk or build yourself up and strengthen yourself to make you better?
Network… There’s a saying that says “You’re net worth is determined by your network.” Please understand, networking doesn’t mean “suck up to every musician who seems to be busy,” but rather connect with people who can help you grow, and develop relationships with people and let them know where your area of expertise is. Sometimes stepping outside of your normal circle can position you for great opportunities.
The best musicians don’t make the best professional, working musicians… It’s usually those who are humble, teachable, reliable and professional and those who don’t just ride the wave of their talent, but those who are willing to climb the steep, rocky mountain (cuts, bruises, aches and all) on the journey to the top.Tags: Advice, Blog, Drummer, London, Matt Brooks, Music Industry, Musical Director, Musician, Pop, Session, Session Musician, Talent, Tips, UK