Are you thinking of dedicating yourself to Music as a profession, or maybe you already dedicate and it costs you to get gigs, recordings, to be able to play with other musicians and to develop your career in the environment and the business? Maybe this post can help you.
Let’s start with something basic, what is it to be a Professional? … In my experience, being a Professional Musician is much more than just playing well and knowing your instrument. It is related to several aspects that I will try to describe and that, in turn, depending on each person, are infinitely more important than just play. Let’s start.
TO PLAY/ GEAR: this aspect is the most obvious of all. Be able to play many styles, get different sounds, know different techniques, be able to adapt to any demanding musical situation is hyper-necessary. As well as having the equipment in order and ready to use, from the calibrated instrument, through the cable, tuner, amplifier, stand and everything that is considered necessary to have at disposal.
TIME/ PRESENCE: this is an important point in my opinion because it speaks of the importance one gives your profession and people with whom you work. Being on time or always early makes the difference. Being late, although in some countries is imposed the tolerance of 15 minutes, is a total lack of respect and considering future work, always plays against the person who does it. Another point is the presence (dress) mainly in the gigs. It is always essential to be properly dressed and cleanly (even if it seems ridiculous to say) and if one does not know how to dress for the occasion, it is necessary to ask and not suppose.
ATTITUDE/ BEHAVIOR: be respectful, know how to speak and be silent even in the most tense moments, do not humiliate or have delusions of greatness, always give more than expected, be positive, be patient, be kind, if need be know to apologize, understand that no one owes you nothing and above all, understand that there are many people who would like to be in your place, therefore be grateful.
FULL TIME: being a professional, as in any other discipline, is a full-time job and requires not only technical and musical improvement, but in all other aspects. It also demands to invest and strive to constantly update yourself. Being professional means being inside the Music Business and seeing it as such, with its pros and cons. There is no place for those who do it halfway, as the environment is too hostile and requires it to be a 24 hour work.
EFFICIENCY/ UNDERSTANDING: every opportunity is important and can open future doors, but depends on how you behave and reactions. It is always good as a professional to be on the side of those who solve problems in the best possible way and not on the side of those who create them. Putting aside the ego and trying to understand each situation in which you are in the best possible way, will help you to be more effective and know what to do at every opportunity.
RESPECT COLLEAGUES: To be professional you have to respect yourself first. Value the sacrifice and everything invested to avoid giving away work and much less, pay to do it. When you understand this point and begin to apply it comes the second step, respect your colleagues. Do unto others as you have them do unto you. If you can not do a job, recommend someone you think can do it and is up to the task. Help among colleagues creates more work for all. Never betray someone for money, your attitude and your actions is your first letter of introduction and it is what they will first consider when recommending you. No one is better and more important than anyone else.
ENVIRONMENT/ PROMOTION/ PRESENTATION: The environment in which you move and how you take care of your contacts, is everything. So is your reputation as a professional. The best promotion is always to see you in action, so no matter what the situation, always give the best and do the best you can in live sessions, in studio or wherever. Other types of promotion like cds, website, presentation cards, videos, etc …, are very important. And last but not least, the presentation of your products/ projects is fundamental. No one is interested in seeing or hiring bands, artists that sound bad or look bad. Strive to be the best version of yourself.
Unfortunately and because the game within the “Music Business” is always in constant change, there is no formula for “success”, or shortcuts or a magic barita, but to adapt and try to deal with the situation of the best way possible. However, taking into account the previous descriptions will surely help any professional or aspirant to “keep participating”.
Until the next post!