The Music Industry

Why did it take me 10 years to dive into music?

I was part of the music “scene” at around 14 years old and found a lot of reasons why I thought I couldn’t be a part of it. To start, I hated performing in front of people. I always felt no one truly paid attention and my family wasn’t necessarily enthusiastic about my commitment to it. But aside from personal dilemmas and self-doubt, I also learned a great deal about how hard it is to make a living out of it. If you wanted to “make it” as an artist, I knew the only way to ever make REAL money was if you already had it to begin with. It’s a major investment. And it’s a risk. Because even then, if you are not the image people are attracted to or can connect with, that investment also can potentially go to waste.

Not only that, women in the industry are scarce. In the backend at least. The few I met when I first started had to be highly “sexual” in order to get some attention by others in the industry. I’d meet musicians and spark up conversations hoping to lead to “jamming out” or networking opportunities. Sadly, it would go south each time (no dirty pun intended). I started feeling like the only thing I could offer was a good time. Looks matter. Instead of understanding the works of it and finding other ways to network, I took it to mean I was not meant for it and was not a “worthy” musician.

2011 – Salamanca, Spain

I would also hear talk about how going to school was a waste of time. As a performer, you don’t need to be able to read music to be great at it. There was always this talk about natural talent vs. skill and ability to play. I let the backlash against education get to me and eventually gave that up as well. Which now seems ridiculous because being a first chair violinist and singing in choir was probably the most peaceful times I had growing up.

Looking back on the why’s are important. I started playing again to feel peace. I didn’t even know I was lost without it until I wrote “Mirror Thoughts” on a grey blissful night. When I stopped singing the chorus melody, I couldn’t remember why I had given up music to begin with.

You can never deny who you really are no matter how hard you try. Sometimes you make choices to please others. To fit an image, you think is right. None of that is real. What’s real is what you feel when you are doing something that allows you to be fully you. 
1999/2000 – could I have put the violin away for this picture at least? Guess not.

As an avid reader, I found the abundance of work there is in music that doesn’t require these linear paths that society paints it out to be. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who started in their teens, had a huge gap away from it, and is attempting a return in her almost 30s. You may be an already successful artist who can teach me a thing or two about what I’m getting myself back into. Which I encourage so please feel free to reach out!

With that said, here’s some tips and tricks for aspiring musicians that I know of, depending on what interests you the most.

For those who want to make it BIG (warning: I’m about to sound really snobby so skip ahead if you don’t want to see this side of me)

Fame is easily attained now that theirs YouTubers and IG influencers in the world etc. Just throw some cash into it, be consistent, have a target audience, include ads, have useful content and bam! You have yourself a good amount of online presence to say, “I’m famous!”.

Making it BIG however is another Beast. Especially in music. So, here’s the secret. The only way you can make it BIG is . . .

  • Know someone that can get you a major Record Deal

OR

  • Pay your own way into creating a Brand and Live Shows

**Notice how both require $$$$$?

Knowing the right people can get you the right deals but you also need to be aware of scammers and the potential of being taken advantage of. Always READ what you’re signing. Always understand who you are talking to and their agenda. If the right people come along and believe in you as an artist, you can find great opportunities in your career.

NAMM 2018 – non-profit music learning

Don’t trust record labels? Do it yourself.

Just so you know, big names aren’t as rich as you think they are. And they don’t get their somewhat funds from their music. The real money comes from live shows and the brand they sell. The bigger the shows you sell out, the better. In terms of brand, you’d have to come up with a unique USEFUL product you can sell to grow. I’ve heard talk about how YOU are your own brand. Sorry to tell you that’s BS. A new artist can’t be its own brand with 0 fans to begin with. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to look up three of your favorite famous artists on Google. Go to their official website. What’s most dominant? Their music or their MERCH and TOUR dates . . .

I hate talking like a business prick but it’s in hopes to help you see what it’s like and what it takes to get through it. I believe it’s very much possible. If you put in the work, you will eventually get where you want to be. I mean just ask Ed Sheeran. He can tell you . . .

For those who want to make a living out of it

Go to school! Take private lessons, invest in education. As part of Mark Daniels non-profit, time and time again, I ask them, “What’s your major?” 9/10 times its NOT music. Why?

Same concerns I had above. The starving musician myth. When in fact there’s so much work to be found in the industry. Here’s just some I can think of. Be a music teacher, professor, counselor, instructor, therapist, non-profit educator, solo performer, group performer, theater, songwriter, composition, film, TV, Netflix, audio engineer, producer, technician, publisher, manager, social media, promoter, cataloging libraries, music supervisor, music editor, mixer, voice overs, mastering, recording, music director, music coordinator, licensing . . . . and on and on! And they all pay livable wages.

Just because I love Gwen.

A much longer blog than I was hoping for, but I hope this helps artists see the industry much clearer. At the end of it, here’s what matters.

Play because you love it. Sing because you’re passionate. Practice every day because you enjoy it. That self-expression and emotional balance should begin at a young age. Music is a great way to channel invisible darkness and light. I think it’s essential for solving some of the problems we face today in the world, but that topic will be for another day…

Be happy for the ability to be  personal with the world around you through sound. That alone will take you to a wonderful state of being and the “following” will take notice and come to you.

M.

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