In today’s music world, many things have changed but one thing has not: “Common Sense”. To me, that is having the ability to see a problem or a musical market need and then figuring out how to solve or fulfill it.
Being able to do one or more things really well in the music world and to be in demand for those things is very important but to me the essence of sustaining an interesting rewarding musical career and being successful is to have options. I always like to assess a situation and try to figure out what can be done to improve it and make it better. If you are your own boss, that’s simple, but if you work for someone or on a “team,” then it requires some finesse. Having a life just performing is much more difficult than it has ever been. It can be done, but I think some common sense and a diverse palate of abilities can lead to being a self-sufficient music person.
Here is a little background on some of the tools I have used for this:
I play all the saxophones with a focus on Tenor and Soprano, doubles include flute, alto flute, clarinet, piano, some bass and drums. I am comfortable playing most styles of music. My 17CD’s cross the range of most jazz styles. I tour and play in some well-known national acts and lead my own groups as well as playing as a sideman. I also book a summer jazz concert series.
Writing and Production:
I have a catalog of 60 some original songs. I have recorded and mixed most of my CD’s either in a studio, or lately at home in my production studio. I teach writing and production courses.
I have a very extensive Curricula-Vitae and have developed award winning courses as-well-as online courses for Berklee. I have done seminars and workshops throughout the world. I teach writing, production and performance courses. The link to my web site is below and can give details on all of this.
Here are some of the skills that I think the contemporary musician should have. Composing and arranging are very important. If you are in a band and can write charts, your value goes up. Knowing a notation program is at the top of the list. This could lead to becoming a Musical Director (MD) for an act that requires writing charts and contracting regional or local players. If you also have strong abilities working a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that can serve multiple purposes. One is developing your own music which can give your “artist” self a real boost. So, not only playing and arranging other people’s music can add to your income stream, but, presenting your original music can give you an added profile and market presence.
Moving one more step closer to production is having the skill to record and mix audio. This can allow you to not be dependent on others to complete your projects. I usually record my CD’s in a good studio and then mix at home. Taking that one step further is having the knowledge of how to promote and market the music you make. There are many online courses that are available to help you through this journey. Asking the right questions online can easily lead to good results.
Educational offerings are also a big part of the music world today. Creating your own curriculum either in book or online form can really give the contemporary musician another outlet to gain income while meeting and working with other musicians in the virtual plain. I have developed courses over the years, published books and digital educational materials that have proved to be a consistent part of my income stream.
Here are some links. The following link is to an online course I developed for Berklee Online and it is also a requirement for the “Contemporary Writing and Production Major’’ at Berklee College of Music on campus.
The course has a companion book that I co-wrote that covers the much-needed vocabulary of Essential Grooves that all contemporary musicians should have. The following is a YouTube link demonstrating the book followed by the Publisher Sher Music’s web site.
Here is another link for the book I wrote on Producing and Mixing Jazz which I use teaching a mix course at Berklee. This contains scores and multi-track stems for 3 of my songs and demonstrates a step-by-step approach to mixing. You can see over the years the various income streams that I have developed in the music world.
Go to industry shows and network. Do your research. I know you have heard all this before but personal relationships are key to success. Try not to burn any bridges-- you may have to go back and cross them again. I have been a Vandoren Artist since 1992 and I can’t speak highly enough about how much that connection has enriched my career not to mention my sound with the great reeds and mouthpieces that are made.
Keep yourself open and try to develop the chops and say “yes” to any musical situation, whether it’s performing, arranging, producing or teaching. It’s a life journey, but one worth following. My musical history is very diverse and well traveled but the love of creating and performing music has always been at the heart of it. Feel free to contact me with any questions.