3 steps to success in the music industry
1. realise that you can’t do it for the money.
there really isn’t enough money. find another job, or become independantly wealthy, but don’t plan to pay your mortgage by playing the saxophone or managing a band.
be careful with the money. don’t spend more than you earn, don’t lose track of it (or lose it), be clear with everyone about what you expect to earn and what you actually earn. it’s important, in this hand-to-mouth job, to make sure that everyone knows what to expect and gets paid what they are due.
there are lots of benefits – fantastic people and travel and parties and things you can’t buy with money. but there isn’t much money.
if you don’t love the music you’re playing (or mixing, or supporting), find a job that will pay you by the hour.
2. be organised.
Super organised. most bands can walk on stage with an instrument in their hand and play for an hour. but a great performance takes an hour of sound check, a change of clothes, a set list, instruments in tune, and for the whole night to run on time so that the audience doesn’t get bored and the last band gets to play their full set. For the music to start and finish when the audience expects it to may have taken days of work by a dozen people.
and to support all of that, a rehearsal and a good looking merch desk and spare leads and batteries and a meal and a drink and a good nights’ sleep.
it takes a big team to put on a great night of music – a three band bill could include 15 musicians, 2 or more sound/tech supports, a couple of managers, people to run the door and the merch. you could easily be sharing $500 worth of door takings between 20 people.
3. love the music
the art is the only thing. everything has to serve the song. and if you don’t love the song, you’ll end up worrying more about something else – the food or the transport or the colour of the bass players shirt – and the music will suffer.
if i’m working with a band, i have to want to see them 200 times. because how am i going to convince 200 people to come to the show if it don’t like it that much myself. and actually, i probably will see the band 200 times.