I'm lucky enough to live in Nashville, home to some of the best musicians in the world and a big chunk of the music industry. I really enjoy a lot of aspects of Nashville, but I was financially successful at music when I lived in a smaller market, too (St. Louis). He are my five best tips for earning a full-time music living in a secondary market:
Almost every week I receive an email like the following:
I hope you're having a nice day.
We are interested in sending over a quality and relevant article/product/advertisement to your site ericwbarfield.com as a contribution. Is this something you might consider? If yes, I can email over the details asap. Rest assured that it will be subject to your review. Please note that we'll also add references to our client.
Aside from the article/product/advertisement, we will also pay an administrative fee worth $XXX.
Please email me back if this is something that might interest you.
Looking forward to hearing from you, Eric.
Want advice on how to develop your career as a musician? Don’t ask me. I’m still trying to figure out how to cram practicing, touring, and all the other stuff into an average week, while occasionally sleeping.
My friend Steve Grossman is the man I go to when I need career advice. With a 30+ year career as a session and touring musician, he’s been wildly successful with a number of bands, and even got a Grammy Award along the way for his work.
I help to lead a small music meet up group called Balanced Breakfast in Nashville made up of up and coming musicians, artists, and promoters in the scene. We all are constantly swapping cool music, and we made a spotify playlist of the tracks this week.
Last week a reader and pianist Ken wrote me some great tips about how to improve my rhythm, including using a DAW to check for timing errors. It really worked- I messed around with it in the studio, and noticed some areas I could improve. I told a few other musicians about it, and they’re all using the method now, too (don’t worry, I’ll share my thoughts on it in a blog when I get better at it).
There’s a fine line between stealing and sharing. Good (and bad) ideas are sticky, and we tend to share them easily. We’d never charge for them, because they’re not ours.
Insecure musicians are obsessed with people stealing their ideas. They’re worried that if they share their tricks, techniques, and contacts with others, we’ll figure out what the secret is and leave them behind.
What insecure musicians miss is that almost all ideas are really, really hard to actually steal.
It’s not the idea itself that makes something possible, it’s the massive amount of work, grit, and practice that creates something beautiful and marketable from a theory. Ideas lend themselves well to sharing because the more ideas you give, the more likely you are to receive ideas.
If you are worried about someone stealing your trade secrets, perhaps you should give them all away. You might be surprised what amazing things people will give back.
(Note: I am not advocating that you shouldn’t charge for your work, time, or teaching. Part of giving away your ideas may include you making a lot of money through educating others. The important part is not how you give away your ideas, but that you share them and practice receiving ideas from others).
I’m thinking about redesigning my website and I’ve been pondering: why should a musician we have a website? Here’s some of the things I think are perfectly good reasons to have a website:
Most of us are really, really close to becoming elite in some area in our lives (I consider elite as the top 5%-10% of the performers in a field, your definition may differ). Most of us do a great job 80%- 90% of the time at what we do, and there’s only a few small things we miss.
The best tools are the ones you know how to use already, even if you’ve never used it before. You don’t have to read a manual to use a spade. Watch someone spear it into the ground, and you’re good to go.
The best audio equipment in the world follows this principle. An 1176 compressor is drop dead simple to use while being incredibly complicated. So is a piano- hit a note, and it makes a sound.
Most modern music manufacturers completely ignore this principle. In the rush to add features, they cram everything they can into the smallest possible piece of gear. Every feature you’d ever need is there, but you can’t access it because it’s buried in sub menus or under clumsy interface designs.
When great manufacturers keep their products simple but powerful, something magical happens: we stop thinking about the product and start thinking about what we’re making instead.
We build muscle memory, instinctively adjusting knobs, faders, and buttons while never thinking about the controls themselves. We develop the skill to play the instrument, even if that instrument is a compressor.
The next time you consider a new piece of equipment, I encourage you to consider how quickly you can accomplish amazing things with it, and not just see who has the longest list of features on the specs page.
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on the road this summer with different bands, and as usual I can’t stand going out without messing around with some experiment or another. This summer’s theme has been getting all non-essential work (email, blogging, even some producing) done from the back of a tour bus or van on the road.