In my previous blog (making a living in music, part 1) I focused on the history of the record business over the past 40 years and where we are right now in terms of distribution, listening habits, and royalty streams for musicians.
Another aspect to look at is what kind of business models musicians have these days. It seems to me that "making music" alone is not enough to being a musician. A degree in promotion, social media, accounting, electronic engineering, IT, and an apprenticeship with a moving company might also come in handy. In other words, to be a musician means to be a multitasker. Now, there ARE musicians that have made it to a point in their career where they draw large audiences and make the big bucks or where their recordings generate a nice income through royalties and licensing. We all aspire to that goal, right? So, as a young musician it is important to lay the foundation by getting registered with one of the Performing Rights Organizations as a writer and as a publisher. I did this in my early 20s when I was asked to co-write a few songs with composer John Cacavas for a TV mini series called "Jenny's War". This series was aired all over the world and I received royalties from BMI for years. It showed me the importance of registering everything that I do with BMI as a writer and a publisher.
Also, it is really important to get real with yourself by asking "what kind of artist am I?". Do you like performing or do you dread it? Are you playing mainstream music that might have a large market or are you an esoteric 21st century composer who will always be eclectic? Are you comfortable in the studio or would you rather be on stage? We are all a bit different in this regard, and we are also evolving. In my case, I started in classical music, added rock/funk/pop as a bass player, and continued to explore other directions on stage and in the studio: folk, world music, electronic, ambient, and neoclassical. All of this helped me to become a music producer, a better musician, and hopefully a better human.
So, your way might lead you to big stages, or to film scoring, or to being a record producer. I love all of it and embrace the diversity of being a musician of the 21st century. As I am getting ready for another esoteric solo concert for cello, sarangi,. nyckelharpa, sitara, tibetan bowls, and live looping, I'm also working with other artists in classical, jazz, and rock genres. It all fits together just fine.
STUDIO 330 has become the center for all of these activities- recording, experimenting, composing, and brain storming. That is what a recording studio really is these days- an incubator for great musical ideas.
More to come...