I have been coming across this a little bit lately. This blog is probably more for aspiring music industry workers than musicians, but really, the words will probably resonate with bands as well. I should also point out that I mean no disrespect for schools/colleges/universities or anyone who got their degree/cert etc or any event/business etc that uses volunteers. I should also state that this comes from a guy who is by no means the most successful guy in the music industry and I have no illusions that I am totally mid-career, but I will not ever stop learning from this industry and the fantastic people in it, from all walks of life. I am by no means the most creative person on the planet and my businesses are by no means overly innovative in their model, but I definitely have the drive to stick at it. So that’s my cred going into this. I don’t mind if you disagree with me or wish to tell me that I expect too much of people, but I feel like a sense of “Oh well, no-one employed me, giving up/industry is flawed.” is not really much of an option.
This blog, at it’s heart, is more about being ambitious, creative and daring with your life and career – not about slamming one pathway or other – what works for some won’t for others. Though, when one pathway doesn’t seem to work, it seems silly to keep trying that pathway, rather than forging your own.
Recently, I have heard people say things like “Oh I graduated from high school or I graduated from University/College X with a Music Business/Music/ANY DEGREE at all but I just found that there was no jobs. I volunteer a little bit for events and whatever, but they seem to just keep wanting me to be a volunteer and it hasn’t led to any paid work in the Music Industry.” I had the thought at the time… “First of all, who is telling these people that there ARE actually multitudes of jobs in the Music Industry, and telling them they are waiting out there for them to just throw a resume at and wait a phone call?”, then I regrouped and thought… “Why aren’t they creating opportunities for themselves to build an sweet reputation for gettin’ shit done and either creating: a business for one’s self that can sustain a career OR a DEMAND for yourself to be employed?” Trust me – if you create something that just cannot be ignored anymore or do a volunteer job SO WELL, you will create a demand for your work and your services. Look at some examples but nowhere near limited to: Chugg, Gudinski and Coppell, Oztix, Jesse Barbera’s FANS group, the UNFD group and festivals that broke through the pack like Splendour in the Grass and Soundwave. You must remember that these businesses were created first of all by IDEAS and the ambition to make them happen. Some of these ideas were ones that replaced existing outdated business models and some were total niche ideas that no-one had the market on yet, but either way, their genesis was in the minds of people who wanted to make their life and their careers around music and the people who make it.
I’m not going to lie. Shit is going to be LEAN. You are going to need a job (whatever you can get that will allow you to live and facilitate your career goals) in the early-mid stages and you are going to work with people who shut down or move on or don’t generate much cash, but much like being in a band, it’s the ones who just STICK WITH IT who shine through. Manage a band, Book/Promote gigs, pitch a music night at a cafe and make it successful, do whatever you have to do, but do something and make it YOURS. Be the face of it and do it so WELL that people come to YOU with ideas of collaboration and partnership.
“So many of us choose our paths out of Fear disguised as Practicality.” – Jim Carrey
Practicality is…. I need to pay the rent this week and I need to eat. Fair enough, I get it. BUT – I know it has been bandied around on Facebook a lot this week, but I feel like what Jim Carrey says about his Father and his choice to work a “safe” job as an Accountant rather than become what he describes as a “great comedian” says it all. He was let go from that “safe” job when Carrey was 12 and they lived very lean for a number of years. Carrey’s message was this. “You can fail at something that you don’t actually want, so you might as well take a chance on what you love.”