Working in the music industry is a common dream that most people begin to have at a very young age. Usually, it begins with a young person discovering an artist, being greatly impacted by that artist’s music and performances, and the attraction to whatever image that artist portrays. If the young person is highly motivated, he/she will decide to learn a musical skill, such as playing an instrument, singing, or songwriting. Those are usually the top three starting points, for most budding hopefuls. Unfortunately, most will go their entire lives, without a clear understanding of what it takes to actually succeed and make any real money in an industry that never stops and where the competition throughout EVERY position in the industry is among the highest of any career, in the world.
It takes a certain type of person, someone with immeasurable strength, focus and will-power, to create a sustainable career in music. Whether you’re the artist, the label, the promoter, the management team, a member of a road crew, or even just an intern at a music studio, all require a great deal of dedication and time spent on their craft. In fact, most driven industry professionals think of little else, than how to grow their career. In an industry where being relevant determines the size of your paycheck, it is necessary to always be promoting new projects, showing that you can produce and deliver what’s making money for the industry now, all the while, trying to stay true to your own individuality. Every position in the music industry requires knowledge of what is trending and what is beginning to take hold in the realm of innovative and cutting edge popularity. Not only that, the budding music professional will need to actually have talent, if their career is going to last, more than a few years, beyond being a YouTube musician, only.
It can be said that musicians have the best and the worst job, in the entire industry. While musicians get all the attention and accolades, they also deal with many unpleasant situations. From their early beginnings, to the very end stages of their career, a musician will be involved in every single aspect of their career, which is nothing short of a 24/7 job. Between the time it takes to put a song together and the time it takes to promote it, there leaves little time for the rest of what’s required to make a name for themselves. You see, you can create the next #1 song, but if you don’t have time to tell people about it, how will they know?
Once the music is created and ready for public critique, promotion needs to happen. Promoting anything can be done in many different ways, but today it has become necessary to promote anything entertainment related, online. Many musicians are great with learning how to use all of their fancy gadgets and equipment, but many are not so fabulous with a computer. Not only that, there is a vast amount of knowledge pertaining to online promoting, countless details that go into it, that no dedicated and serious musician would have adequate time to learn about, before their work is passed over for someone who already stands out in a crowd. It is, as if, the musician already has to know how they plan to promote their work, even before it is done, because the entire process has to be handled flawlessly and smoothly. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so getting it right the first time is imperative. Without the right knowledge, it’s easy to fail with promotions, which will leave your work dead in the water.
Writers who help to spread the word about an artist are a huge part of the promotional process, as well. One of the most valuable promotional tools an artist or any industry professional can have is getting their name in print. Obtaining positive reviews of their work, putting out press releases or other public relation pieces, and designing websites all require the expertise of talented and attention-getting writers. Writing creatively and with purpose takes many years to accomplish. Anybody can write anything, but the writing must also produce results. A writer that focuses primarily on music industry subjects, always knows that everything they allow the public to touch will have an impact on whomever he/she is writing about, positive or negative. One bad article on an artist who’s counting on you, and your career as a writer can come crashing down, as reputation is everything in this industry.
Everything in the music industry tends to require money, in order to make it all happen. Most musicians make very little and hold other jobs, just to survive. A running joke within the industry goes like this:
Q: What do you call a musician without a girlfriend?
The answer: Homeless.
“Why?”, you might ask. Because, the serious musician has to survive, if he/she is going to get anywhere. This usually means it’s incredibly difficult to spend time on a paycheck to paycheck job, and still have time to really produce good music. The musician requires financial support, in order to be able to focus and move ahead with their career. Not only do musicians require this, so does everyone else in the industry. There have been many times my own loved ones, being a writer myself, have wondered why I spend so much time on my writing, even when I don’t make any money with it. The reason is because, if I don’t, nobody will know what I can do or who I am, therefore, I won’t get any business, ever. Think of it in terms of going to college. College requires a certain amount of training, in order to graduate and start making decent money. The same holds true for anybody who wants to make it in this industry. Years of preparation and training, practicing your skills, and putting your work out there, all lead to a career that goes places.
Another aspect, which non-music industry professionals have trouble understanding, is the fact that everyone in the industry has to be available to their clients and their careers, at any given time. For example, let’s say one of my clients emails me at midnight with a link to a new song and wants my help to promote it. Being that I am a writer and a promoter, I know how important it is to turn out high quality results in a very short period of time, which means, I have to hone all of my skills and give that client something they can use, right away. It is one of the reasons why my clients come to me, because I not only know this, I produce the result they are looking for. I recognize that artists are on borrowed time, that they need all the help they can get, and how hard it is to be able to stand out. I know how much my work can help someone, but I also know how the badly written article can hurt that artist’s chances of success.
Most people who work in the music industry love what they do and consider it bliss. The ones who don’t love it, don’t make it or don’t last, because everyone who intends on creating a sustainable career in this industry MUST love what they are doing. With all of the setbacks, stumbling blocks, and failures one will experience, the love of the job is a necessary element, in order to maintain the motivation to stick with it. Each person in the industry has immeasurable passion for what they do and they feel that the process of creation and creativity is just as necessary as sleeping, eating, and breathing. It is a fundamental requirement, in order to sustain their own vitality. It IS their livelihood. Anything that threatens that livelihood gets removed and tossed aside, because creating is just as much of a basic survival skill as everything else that’s required, in order to live.
While working in the music industry does require a great deal of sacrifice, the rewards can be worth it. Getting to meet interesting people, getting to travel, doing something that brings people happiness and touches their inner soul, all are feel-good reasons to want to work in this industry. As for myself, when I give my clients something in print that is designed to further their success, there is no greater feeling. Being able to help another artist to get over that hurdle of trying to gain exposure, bringing them into the spotlight, and watching them run all the way to the bank with it, gives me a rush that is difficult to imagine, until you’ve experienced it. There have been very few days when I have felt like quitting. That passion that I mentioned before, that inner-burning fire, and that drive to succeed always outweighs that feeling. Like the artists I promote, I must continue to create my work, if I am going to continue to maintain my own livelihood.
On that note, back to work! We’ve got music to deliver!