YOU WANT GREAT CAREER TIPS, ADVICE and hard-won insights from individuals who actually work in the music industry–that’s why a career-minded music-maker like yourself comes to musicconnection.com and our award-winning print magazine. With that in mind, we’ve again cherry-picked some of the best career tips that we gathered during 2016. Each quoted tip cites the month it first appeared on musicconnection.com, so you can read our original interviews.
BOTTOM LINE, SQUARE ONE
Make the decision that you want to go for it and then treat it as if that’s the only option you have. Don’t leave room for any kind of back-up plan. – Daya, artist, Nov.
You have to make yourself happy first. You’re never going to make everyone happy, and if you try, you’re going to make a big pile of shit. – Patty Lynn, the Wind and The Wave, Aug.
[Artists] should stop thinking about getting signed. They shouldn’t worry about sending out demos and press kits. They should just focus on their music and their show. – Ben Blackwell, Director of Operations, Third Man Records, Jan.
Don’t narrow your path. Be open-minded and challenge yourself with different kinds of projects to expand your horizon. – Norihiko Hibino, composer, arranger, saxophonist, May
You can’t be afraid to ask people what they think, if they want to help you, what you can do to make yourself better. Be humble and take criticism. As long as you have your package together, start talking to people. – Lawrence Vavra, co-founder, Deckstar Management, June
Money needs to not be the priority. It has to be that you love music so much you want to be around it at all times. – Lawrence Vavra, co-founder, Deckstar Management, June
Not knowing about the business, and thinking that someone is going to discover you and make you a star is the most common mistake. Additionally, not asking for help when you need it can hurt your progress. – Dave Kusek, New Artist Model, June
Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture and think ahead too far or too fast. You can take baby steps and still succeed. – Gilli Moon, artist, CEO, Warrior Girl Music, June
Let go of the phony romantic idea that true artists don’t get paid and that if you do ask for what your time and talent are worth, you’re not really in it for the right reasons. – Matt Starr, touring/recording drummer, June
If you’re working with a distributor or label, don’t take what they say at face value, because the market is changing fast and there’s opportunity to do better and do more. – Emmanuel Zunz, founder,
CEO, ONErpm, Oct.
Be careful which companies you work with. Look at their pedigree, their clients, how well they’re doing, how transparent they are. – Tanvi Patel, CEO, partner, Crucial Music Corporation, Nov.
Stand your ground, especially if any funny conversations happen that make you feel uneasy. There’s no harm in saying what you want—it’s all about a compromise. – Nina Diaz, artist, Nov.
I was very private, but I learned that [a songwriter] can’t be like that; you have to be an open book, especially if you are collaborating. – BC Jean, Alexander Jean, songwriter, Jan.
Songwriters are often too clever—they come up with a cool word or hip phrase they think will get some attention. People don’t latch onto trends. They latch onto truth. – Claude Kelly, co-founder, Weirdo Workshop, March
I wanted to write the perfect song every time. And once I let go of all those ideas of what I had to do and what it all meant and what people thought, that’s when I started writing good songs. – Courtney Barnett, artist, March
Songwriting is something that needs to be practiced, much like your instruments. – J.B. Brubaker, August Burns Red, April
Take your time; [don’t] get frustrated when you hit the roadblocks. … My writing has a season. When it’s time to write songs, it happens and I know then it’s time to do an album. – Ziggy Marley, artist, June
I think the problem a lot of songwriters have when they’re following up anything is that they’re trying to think of the first thing that they thought of before, and they try to repeat that. –Wesley Schultz, the Lumineers, Aug.
The best stuff is usually simple, if you think about it—but it’s the hardest thing to do. – Gwen Stefani, artist, Sept.
Don’t rush an incredible song. Wait for the right moment and the right artist so you maximize your chances of a hit. I’ve sat on a song for two or three years before. – RedOne, producer, songwriter, Oct.
Sync-able music lyrics should be universal and applicable to tons of situations. Never write a song about your dog and name it “Mitsy.” There’s never going to be a scene with a dog named Mitsy. – Tanvi Patel, CEO, partner, Crucial Music Corporation, Nov.
CONFIGURE YOUR DREAM STUDIO
The input chain of a project studio is of the utmost importance. Your music (read: product) doesn’t stand a chance if signal isn’t recorded at or above the professional threshold. – Doug Fenske, Director of Education, Crē•8 Music Academy, July
One of the first areas recommended to treat are the early (first) reflection points, the first points on your sidewalls, floor and ceiling where reflections bounce off and come back to the listening position. Luckily, reflection points are easy to treat with a few acoustic panels in the right spots. – Glenn Kuras, owner, President, GIK Acoustics, Feb.
In most rooms, you’ll want to orient yourself so that you’re facing the shorter wall, with the longer walls on your sides. This gives you greater flexibility for positioning your speakers and listening position in the room. Facing the short wall will give you less drastic peaks and nulls than facing the long wall. – Glenn Kuras, owner, President, GIK Acoustics, Feb.
All low-frequency modes end in corners, which makes corners the ideal place for absorption. Treat at least two corners (and more corners if possible) with bass traps positioned floor-to-ceiling. – Glenn Kuras, owner, President, GIK Acoustics, Feb.