For years I have been observing attitudes and analyzing opinions of musicians in the most diverse areas: soloists, orchestra musicians, teachers, classical and popular musicians. Unfortunately, I found that more than 90% of the musicians I had and have contact with, in my approximate 20 years of career, are dissatisfied or frustrated with the profession. The reasons are: non-recognition of their work; the difficulties of finding places to play, whether concerts or gigs; a salary or job that gives them security and financial return; hold events and play music they don’t like to please audiences or give music lessons to survive.
Music education, academic music studies and performance studies aim to prepare us for a perfect performance and an advanced understanding of what we are performing, we are given tools to be successful in the performance of the instrument or voice. We went through a literacy job and we are reaching more advanced techniques until psychological work to reach the goals established with the highest quality.
This whole study takes a lot of time and dedication on the instrument, leaving the practical part of the profession forgotten. So, at a certain stage in your music career, you ask yourself: “I have talent, technique and study… .and now what do I do?”
This question is not easily answered and most musicians learn to live with these questions, doubts and frustrations. The flaw is in not thinking about career development, we should do a job in parallel with all this dedication we have with the instrument and with our performance.
Below I raise some questions for you Musician to answer and try to get to know your own work better and know what you are doing in relation to your career development:
Using a word or an expression, how do you define yourself as an artist?
How do you define your work?
Who is your audience? Where is he?
What kind of career do you dream of having?
Do you want to have international recognition?
What is your differential as an artist?
Do you already have a CD recorded? Do you know what to do to record? Do you know a little about recording and studio?
Have you ever worked with a producer? Do you know the role of a producer? Do you need one?
Do you know how to promote your work? Do you know how to produce your promotional material like photos, website, blog, fan page?
Do you have a defined artwork to promote? Does he have a name?
Music education available today, whether inside the academy or not, trains us to perform musicians, that is, soloists…. it is the fundamental part of our career but it does not always prepare us for the current job market. We need to know, develop and open space within today’s market.
How to do this? First thing is to define your work as an artist. Seeking to know the trajectory of other artists and musicians who have a well-defined career, seeking guidance from professionals in the field of artistic production, seeking to know which professional areas need musical work, taking other courses, who knows how to connect their talent and their study to other areas such as health, composing for films, theater, producing a CD, helping people to produce their CDs, setting up children’s shows, writing cultural projects, looking for an international agent, setting up their music studio for classes , create tracks, give classes online, schedule tours etc….
A very common situation today, for example, are students of the music course who have a degree and a bachelor’s degree competing for the same job market. Due to lack of information and difficulties to enter or recognize their market, the two professionals start to do “what appears ahead”, teach classes, play events, set up chamber groups, try something more commercial, competitions for orchestras, pianists start to accompany singers, choirs, etc. All the examples mentioned above are undoubtedly part of our market, but without planning, without methodology and awareness you do not consider them part of your career, but something temporary until your career take off. But here is the question: what do you expect from your career? How are you investing in it?
With my 20 years of experience as a pianist, I observed that the Musician profession is no more or less difficult than any other profession, what there is is a lack of preparation and guidance for the job market and for what it involves to be a Musician.
The academic career is still the safest within the music market. But if you don’t want to teach or pursue a research career within a university, you need to know your options better.
As a freelance musician, who we are in the majority, you will need to have notions of business, administration and everything that involves taking care of your own business. Your performance in this case is the product, and you the performer. You are in turn an entrepreneur, salesman, producer and performer of your own work.
You must comply with schedules, divide your time into: maintaining the quality of your product (studying your instrument); plan your marketing and sales; and create new products (new performances). This involves working hours, just like a doctor or judge who works in the office or court and returns home to study the case of illness or crime. A professional from any other area works an average of 30 to 40 hours a week, the musician who dedicates this time to work on his “product” will have a return equal to or even greater than that of a health professional for example.
In search of answers, during the development of my career, I took many courses, courses in artistic production, web design, music therapy, management of cultural projects all that involved my profession and that could help me find ways to “live from music”. There are no formulas, there is no right or wrong way, there is dedication, study, persistence, the search for knowledge, improvement, and other things that help a lot like “stick man”, a game of the waist and good humor.
Music, what a beautiful profession! We take our passion and our talent to people, we benefit from them with incredible moments, we are always welcomed with smiles, our workplace is never the same, we meet amazing people and places every day, we have time and freedom, our hobby is our profession. We just need to understand it better, set schedules, produce and work for ourselves.
Thanks for reading.