Here are 10 things I have learnt from working in the music industry so far. I’m a performer and music manager so I guess it’s written from the perspective of both. Enjoy!
1. It’s a MAKE or BREAK industry – and more often than not, it’s the latter.
Once you’ve come to terms with those odds, you’re ready! Keep in mind that ‘making it’ means different things for different people.
2. There’s a difference between hustling and hustling properly.
Talking yourself up to anyone that will listen is stupid! Target those in the industry who can actually help you – and before you say anything, listen to what they have to say. They’re successful for a reason. Once you’re standing in front of them, show them your HUNGER – not your DESPERATION. Shit-talking will get you nowhere. And if by chance it does, make sure you have something to back it up with!!
3. It’s not all about ass-kissing
If you’re fake, people will see through you like a pane of glass. What’s the common theme between Rihanna, Kanye & Miley? They are themselves and they are honest. Don’t be afraid of rejection or making the wrong impression. In this industry, all that’s important is that you MAKE an impression full stop. Sounds lame, but being yourself could be the best move you could make.
4. You’ll work more after 5pm than in the whole day.
I’m at my desk as I write this, and it’s 6.30pm. We work into the night, but don’t even think about contacting anyone before 10AM, because you will get abused!! Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the busiest due to gigs and tours, so forget about turning your phone off after a long day. And if you’re actually at the gigs, pay close attention to the next point!
5. You’ll work whilst drunk. A lot.
I also find myself in a state of constant tipsiness. I’ve worked in retail, hospitality, call centres, you name it – and in every contract I signed was a clause stating you couldn’t come to work intoxicated or high. Well, in this industry it’s kinda expected that you’re never quite sober. But be careful to tread a thin line, only because you want to remember the contacts you meet whilst out, the businesses they run, and any verbal deals you make!
6. The most successful people are almost always the nicest.
Don’t be fooled by media reports of divas throwing tantrums to get what they want. Yes, this might be acceptable once you’re a Grammy award-winning artist, but for everyone else trying to carve a career in the industry, being nice pays off. People want to work with you again, they respect you more and will recommend you to others. That’s priceless.
7. It’s all about who you know.
Everyone knows someone who works in, or is connected to, the music industry. Take a second and consider it. A drummer? DJ? Aspiring music journalist? Blogger? Photographer? A bartender who works at the pub all the bands play at? If for some reason you don’t, stop freaking out!!! Dive in head-first because once you make some contacts, you won’t be able to stop. Everyone is connected somehow in this industry.
8. You’ll do more than make music.
Emails, baby. Expect to send s***loads of emails a day. Tours, accommodation, flights, transfers, album artwork, free clothes, backline, studio time, interviews, photoshoots, brand endorsements (and in some cases, rehab!) don’t book themselves. Whether you’re doing it for yourself or have a manager, this ish has to be sorted with a capital S. Fans think it’s kinda like Christmas – you wake up one morning and everything is awesomely presented with a pretty red bow around it. Nope – having a song ready to roll is only the first step. There’s a lot of legwork involved.
9. You’ll be expected to do more than make music.
At a certain point in your career, there will be some people who don’t care about your music at all. Magazines will ask you about what food you eat everyday, media will ask about your relationships, reporters will ask what you’re wearing and why there’s a ring on your finger. While this can be creatively stifling, not being all about the music can be a good thing too. Attending fundraisers, representing charities and visiting children’s hospitals can make you realize that you can have a positive impact on others.
10. Finally, the music industry is like no other.
The people you meet are living their dream every single day. I think most would agree that a lot of stuff we do doesn’t feel like work at all (well, definitely not what I thought a “real job” was when I finished school). It’s an industry where dreams and money can be made quickly, so in a way, it can be ruthless. Fame, egos and a little bit of exploitation can get in the way. But it’s also laid back, because most of us come from a musical background (no maths please!). Business meetings are conducted in jeans and a T-shirt via skype, and your boss catching you on social media is a GOOD thing. But everyone loves music, and music makes everyone happy, so in my opinion it’s not a bad industry to be in at all 🙂