5 Things I Would Tell My Kids If They Were Wanting To Make A Living From Music
If you want to be rich, then choose another profession The biggest mistake that many people make is that everyone in this industry is making a pile of money. The music industry is a financial pyramid, with the 1% at the top making 99% of the money - then below them are the producers, engineers, musicians, software developers, product manufacturers working hard to make a decent living. If your kid wants to be rich, then tell them to be a lawyer.
It takes 20 years to become an overnight success Yes there are exceptions to the rule, like those who win TV talent contests, but on the whole success is more about perspiration than inspiration - it takes a lot of hard work (often for no money - see above), a lot of tenacity, commitment and still without any guarantees - there are no shortcuts, honestly.
Be the best Being the best is not about money or fame, it is about making a commitment to doing the best you can with what you have. A good musician or sound producer can work with the tools they are given, be that a Neve console or an iPad and make fantastic music and audio. A bad workman does blame their tools and too often the excuse people give for producing a bad sound is that they didn’t have the right equipment, I think the early Beatles recordings blow that excuse out of the water. Don’t get caught up in the gear, it will distract you from your creativity - you might end up with nothing to show for your collection of hardware and software, just depreciation.
Guard your heart The industry is full of pitfalls, cynics, bullshitters and just general idiots. The most precious thing you have is your creativity, so choose who you share your gift with carefully. You don’t want anyone to squander, steal or smash up your gift, so be as wise as a viper and as gentle as a dove.
Use your ears. When asked, nearly everyone we interview on the podcast answers ‘what piece of advice would you give someone starting out?’ with the same answer, USE YOUR EARS. Staring at screens to make and mix music is almost counter intuitive, we rely on our eyes so much and too often we just head for the same old settings. Next time you find yourself in front of a real desk or a piece of analogue rack gear, then close your eyes and craft the sound you need - you might be surprised at the settings when you open your eyes.
I love making music and I love making money from doing what I love. I do hope at least one of my kids follow me in, but I want them to know that it may seem glamorous, but like most things in life, it takes equal amounts of talent and hard work to be the best! Simon Cowell may be the richest man in music, but that’s because he made everyone else think that being sucessful in this industry was easy.
5 Things I Would Tell Parents Whose Kids Want To Work In Music
Pro Tools Expert did two great articles on this subject so I figured I would link them here.
They Won’t Grow Out Of It Sadly, trying to make a career in music can often be ridiculed at worst, or at best, parents just see it as something their kid will grow out of. As a parent, I see it as my God-given responsibility to help my kids make their dreams come true. Now I’m not talking about when they are 5 and tell you that they want to work in a zoo or own an ice-cream company, I’m talking about when they start to develop into adults and start dreaming of what they might want to do in life. We spend far too many hours trying to make money to pay the bills, so anyone forcing their kids into doing a dull, grey job, as a means to an end needs shooting. I’m 46 this year and I still haven’t figured out what to do - all I know is if I can make a living from music, then I’ll forgo anything to make that happen.
Be Their Number One Fan And Their Biggest Critic I don’t need to tell any parent this, it should be part of your parenting DNA - you may not like thrash metal or dub step, but being their number one fan is an essential part of making sure they have at least one person who believes in them, even when the rest of the world doesn’t. Conversely, as a songwriter and a producer, I know there are plenty of people who will criticise my work simply to have an opinion - the jokes goes ‘how many producers does it take to change a light bulb?’ the answers ‘10, 1 to change it and nine to say they could have done it better.’ Joking apart, having trusted people around you, who you know love you enough to want the best for you, are priceless when you need someone to critique your work.
Don’t Try And Live Your Dreams Through Them My son was in a band, which was ‘managed’ by his friends’ Dad - the band fell apart eventually, it would seem mostly because the dad wanted his ideas right in the middle of the band, in a sense, to be in the band by proxy. We need to do all we can to encourage our kids, but trying to impose our unfulfilled dreams on them is asking for trouble. The same can be said for soccer dads, or cheerleader girls and a million other ways we try and live through our kids. That normally happens because no one told our parents number one in this list, and so we settled for the grey career, and let our own dream die - sorry, you made your choice and you can’t fix that through your kids.
You Can’t Buy Them Success When I was 16 I decided I ‘needed’ a Tascam 244 Portastudio to further my career. It was £1299 in the early 80s and I was earning £70 a week, so do the math. I asked my Dad to buy it for me to help further my career. He refused to buy it for me, but instead loaned me the money at 0%. I think I paid him 50 a month for a couple of years and then he wrote the rest off. However, I cherished that 244 and got every last ounce of use I could, trying to craft songs on it. Throwing money at your kids with gear or studio time is not going to make them any more successful and in fact simply feeds into the modern ‘entitlement’ thinking that seems to pervade our modern society. If they want you to take their career seriously, then do that by teaching them that as with any successful career, it takes a lot of hard work to achieve.
Keep them grounded If even the smallest success comes for them; be that as a writer, musician or producer, then you need to make sure they stay grounded. I know people who had huge careers 20 years ago and who now sell insurance. The money and the fame do not last long - one thing you can do to make sure they are taken care of, is to make sure they don’t spend all the cash or believe the hype. You may need to remind them now and again that you used to wipe their ass or sing them to sleep when they think they are the world’s next big thing and that’s why they can’t load the dishwasher.
The greatest gift in my life are my Mum and Dad - I’ve had some whacky ideas over the years, but not once have they told me what job I should do; instead they have been there to nurture and support me. Just a few weeks ago, my Dad, who is now in his eighties, told me how he wished I had joined him and taken over his insurance business when he retired. This was the first time he had ever said this to me, several years after he sold it. That sums it up - he had his dreams, but he saw I had mine and he loved me enough to let me try and make them happen.
One of the things that annoys me more than anything is when people blame everything on others. “Its everyone else’s fault I did not succeed!” or those who want praise for doing what your supposed to do! I never understood that mentality. When I did have a day job I did not get the whole your the employee of the month thing. If I am such a good employee, then give me a monetary bonus, or more vacation time, something that makes what I am doing seem logical.
I used to be a person who thought like this. For years I felt I could not make strides! Now I see that you truly do get out of it what you put into it! I am not saying all success comes from hard work or anything like that. More so that it is the preparation for things to come. You still need the situations to line up and its best to be prepared when they do.
Success = Planning + Preparation + Networking + Willingness to learn + A Humble Resolve.
Thats the formula I know. There are many ways to get where you are trying to go, but you have to first stop pointing the finger at everyone else and see what your not doing to help yourself!
5 Things Anyone Serious About Making A Living From Music Should Take Care Of
This was a great article so I had to post it! Too many people take all of these things for granted!
If you want to make a living from music then there are a few things you should take care of, if you do then you may secure a long and prosperous future.
Your Gear If you are going to invest in gear then make sure you keep it in good working order, clean, safe and insured. Ask yourself what would happen if you lost your guitar, keyboard, computer or software. That includes protecting your licences with either iLok or other insurance.
Your Talent Great musicians are a combination of talent and training. Keep investing in your music collection and in training resources. Good to great is normally achieved by investing in your gift.
Your Reputation Yep, we’ve talked about this before. Our industry is a small one, if you make people happy with a great attitude then you’ll get more work. Conversely, I you have a bad attitude then it won’t take long for people to hear about it.
Your Partners A little like the point above, make sure you have people you can rely on, be that musicians, engineers or producers, they will help you deliver projects.
Your Ears The most important. Too many kids are blowing the sh*t out their ears and destroying their hearing - this wont give anyone a long musical career. Take care of your ears, they may pay your pension when you’re older.
Remember to take care of the things that take care of you.