It is now 2015 and I want to wish everyone a good year. I want to talk today about the business side of music. Every musician, amatur or professional will deal with business. Its something that is unavoidable. Here are some suggestions on the business side of music.
1) People. You cannot avoid them in music. You will either play with them, for them, listen to them, learn from them, speak to them or any other number of things. The way you interact with people will change your whole outlook on music. People are also in charge of your success. You could learn a lot about this by learning about social skills in general. (I’m not saying you have bad social skills.) Here are a few more suggestions
Be polite to everyone and anyone. Believe it or not, I have seen other musicians act in horrible ways such as wishing someone pain. Then when they don’t get hired back they are confused. You should act professionally and politely to everyone.
Become friends with people. Other people go out of their way to help a friend. Likewise people will forget about you if you don’t leave a good enough impression the first time. If you keep in touch and build friendships this will be better. Also friends like playing with other friends.
2) Preparedness. Pretend for a minute that you are a soldier. You are posted in a war zone and the commander tells you that a group of guys are going out on a patrol. You go out and someone shoots at you, and you find the direction they shot from. You put your finger on the trigger, aim and pull the trigger. Click! Nothing! Oh man, I forgot bullets! This is a bad situation. Don’t be that guy.
If there is a chance you may need certain equipment bring it. You can always ask the leader if you need it, but if you don’t know bring it anyway. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make a list of the equipment you need for a gig so that you don’t forget and realize it when you are 40 miles away from home.
Under this section it is worth mentioning that business cards is considered being prepared. Any kind of promotional things. If someone wants to offer you a gig in the future they will need to know how to contact you.
Be early. I can’t emphasize this one enough. You can be late to set up, but you cannot be late to the gig. And if you happen to run late for a sound check tell the person in charge. Communication is very important.
3) Knowing what you don’t know. This one may seem strange but its important. This subject can be broken into 2 categories.
first: knowledge. You need to have a good idea of what you know and don’t know. This can be hard to learn. If someone asks you if you know a musician and you don’t. Be honest. If someone asks you to play a chord and you forgot the fingering, tell them. You will learn and grow more being honest with yourself and others. Also in the practice room this is very important. You can focus on certain areas based on what you already know well.
Second: Confidence. If someone asks you a business question such as “how much would you charge for blah”, you do not need to answer their question immediately. You can inform them that you will get back to them with a price. You may ask what this has to do with confidence. If you immediately say “oh I’ll do it for 5 dollars because i’ve never played in front of someone before” you just lost a lot of value in that persons eyes. Just remember, if you don’t know the answer to a question you can advise them that you will get back to them. That will give you time to consider their question and to consult other people more experienced than yourself.
These are just a few thoughts on music business to get you started. Hope you enjoyed. Happy 2015.