Going Beyond Foundational Music Lessons
Every successful career musician has to start somewhere. Music lessons are obviously a great way to build your foundation. And while practice, understanding of music theory, and music education are key aspects, it can also be just as important to take advantage of valuable insights from other career musicians to achieve your musical success.
Article Written by Guest Author – NOMAD
All Successful Career Musicians Do This
Have you ever been to a restaurant with too big a menu? It’s tough to make a decision, right? Music can be similar in the sense that there’s so many different genres and subgenres, it can be difficult to find your place – Especially if you’re proficient on your instrument with a diverse palette of tastes.
FITTING IN BY STANDING OUT
This is where your Unique Sonic Niche comes into play. Your USN, as I refer to it, is the “calling card” of your musical abilities. It can open doors for you in places that are already crowded with other musicians trying to get the same jobs as you.
For example, if you’re looking to get your music placed in film and TV, you’ll likely be up against a plethora of others trying to do the same. By specializing in a particular style that not many others focus on, you’ll be ahead of the curve.
I can speak from my own experience as a guitarist. For the most part, there’s no shortage of guitar-based music on TV and in movie scores. So by default, I’m just one of thousands, perhaps even millions of other guitarists aspiring to achieve the same goals. However, when I started diversifying my skill set by playing other instruments such as the ukulele, mandolin, banjo, and even other world-influenced instruments like the Brazilian cavaquiñho, Cuban trés, Puerto Rican cuatro, and the Middle Eastern oud, I was able to create a specialized niche that enabled me to stand out amongst the crowd.
Lifelong Learning – Music Lessons Aren’t Just For Kids
Even for experienced musicians, ongoing music education and lessons can even be incredibly helpful in honing the right skills needed to become a success in the music industry.
TIME TO GET SERIOUS
Once you’ve discovered your musical strengths and honed in on your USN, it’s time to leverage these assets to your advantage. Multiple income streams is the most important factor of earning a sustainable living. The concept of developing multiple income streams is nothing new. It’s a tried-and-true method that has greatly benefitted many pro-musicians!
Are you a sax player? Work up the necessary chops to play baritone, tenor, alto, and soprano! In order to cross the line from hobbyist to career woodwindist, you should know flute and clarinet as well.
Maybe you’re a producer? Don’t stop there. Learn how to properly engineer, mix, and master. Whatever it is that you do, as long as you earn money in a multitude of ways on a consistent basis, you’ll be a successful career musician.
Experiment with different genres before you start playing professionally. This way, you’ll discover which styles you enjoy and are most comfortable playing. Make notes of the commonalities those genres have. Doing so will make those genres easier to learn. For example: Have you ever noticed how jazz harmony is applied in gospel and R&B? Think about how country and rock can be similar in song form, rhythm, and instrumentation. This is especially important if you want to be a session musician.
NOW HONE IT IN
While it’s extremely important to be as versatile as possible, it’s impossible to be everything to everyone! “Jack of all trades, master of some,” as John Powell told me while in a recording session for the movie Ferdinand. You can listen to John talking about this on Episode 5 of The Career Musician Podcast. Think of it like this…You can do a little bit of a lot of things, and be really good at a few of them, but not everything. By doing so, you’ll discover your USN and be able to use it to your advantage.
In my experience, it’s only when I try to be all things to all people, that it tends to backfire. Find your general niche, then be diversified within it! Lean into that 100% and do your thing! This is how you’ll earn that REPEAT BUSINESS creating a sustainable career!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I’m Nomad and I’ve traversed the globe many times over; performing and recording music as a profession, hence the title, The Career Musician. What initially started out as a just podcast has quickly become the go-to platform for all aspiring musicians desiring to go pro! Our mission is to empower musicians just like YOU with strategies for a sustainable career!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE RESOURCES BY THE CAREER MUSICIAN
The Career Musician (TCM) has many useful resources available. If you’re serious about making music your business, check them out!