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Is a Musician Career the Path for You?

The musician career path, while not an easy route to follow,  offers various ways to make music and get paid for it. Nice job if you can get it!

The musician career path can go in many different directions. You could choose to become a music performer, recording artist, composer or producer. You could perform solo, or with a band, orchestra or choir.  You could also find work in theaters and churches as a musician or any combination of the above.

What makes the difference in terms of success in any of these fields?

A. Practice and more practice, arrrrrrrrrrrgh!...

First and foremost, you need to cultivate discipline to take the steps needed to become a good musician. The better you play your instrument the more work you'll potentially get. So hone your chops and learn as much as you can about music and your instrument or be prepared for the muso who does to take your gig.

I suggest you have a good system in place such as the one provided by David Allen in his book "Getting Things Done" to make sure you stay on top of your practice and also your other commitments.

You want to make deliberate practice a part of your daily routine as much as you can.  The core idea behind deliberate practice is basically that the way you practice makes a bigger difference than how much you practice.

Now you can get all scientific about this type of practice if you want but what's really important for your career as a musician or music producer is that you implement it. Talk doesn't cook rice they say.  Neither does reading.

So how to implement deliberate practice?

  1. COMMITMENT:  Think long run. Realize that mastery will take time. It may be ten years or more of deliberate practice before you'll be an expert.
  2. FREQUENCY: Schedule your practice sessions for every day of the week as much as you can, maybe with a day off per week.
  3. FEEDBACK: Record yourself. Get a tutor. Play with guide tracks. You need a way to know about your weak areas and the mistakes you make.
  4. EVALUATION: Listen to your playing and look for ways to improve.
  5. ADJUSTMENT: Focus on what needs improvement when you practice until you master it.

It's better to do shorter focused sessions than long ones where your concentration starts to drift. Focus is your friend!

Now, obviously there's much more to this topic than just this so if you're interested I suggest you read up on it.  What's more important as I said is that you implement it.  It's not exciting but it can take you places.

B. Music money matters...

You can imagine that musician's and producer's income varies widely and can often be unstable. This causes some to go down the starving artist route while most others take part-time or full-time jobs,  often at the expense of their musician career.

It's wise to consider diversification of income as a music producer or musician as this can keep you afloat when gigs are scarce or sales aren't bountiful.

You'll probably need to make some tough choices with regard to your income,  unless of course you have sympathetic spouse with deep pockets or your parents left you with a comfortable trust fund. There's also always the lure of the "secure" day-job.  The sensible route they'll tell you.

I reccommend a web business as an intelligent way to earn extra income on the side as it's flexible and doesn't require as much capital to start as most offline businesses.  The potential upside in business is also much less limited than it would be in employment where you exchange your time for income.

The reality is that you'll probably have to work and do business at various times in your life so be prepared to go with what feels right, makes sense and be ready when opportunity knocks on your door.

MusiciansWages.com is a great site for working musicians.  I suggest you check it out to get a good idea of the various options available to you in terms of various gigs you could get and other issues related specifically to earning a living as a musician.

C. Your support net as a musician...

Your own friends and family can play a vital role in your musician career as they will most likely support you in many different ways, be it financial, emotionally or just with a good conversation when you need one.

You may want to seek out musician communities online and various specialized music forums where you can find answers and post your own questions.

Musician friends will understand your musician career better than most so make contact and keep in touch with them.  They can give you valuable feedback about the music you create.

You'll also create a tribe of supporters around your music who will spend money on your music and shows.  This same tribe of supporters will often also contain talented members who'd be glad to help out with other skills and services where they can.

Remember, you can do a lot for you musicians career by yourself, and you should of course, but you cannot do it all alone.

Conclusion...

The musician career path may not be the easiest of ways to earn a living though I would nominate it for one of most fulfilling.  Those moments when music works provide you with what can be called a feeling of transcendence which goes way beyond what words can describe.

Lack of money, time and support may be challenges for you to overcome should you wish to pursue a career as a musician and succeed.

Advances in music technology and the Web means it will however only get cheaper and easier to overcome the above challenges and create the musician career and income you want.


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