How to get into the music industry
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Glitz, glamour, and gobs and gobs of money. Being a major player in the music industry brings fame and fortune, late-night parties, and the love of millions of fans. Even behind the scenes, the best music producers are highly sought after and have the admiration of their peers.
Sounds like a good gig, right? But even if your dad plays golf with a vice president at a major recording studio, being an industry leader isn’t something you just walk into. In fact, it doesn’t happen for the vast majority of singers, bands, audio engineers, and others.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a life for yourself working with music. You just need to figure out how you want to do it.
What would you say you do here?
When you say you want to work in the music industry, what does that mean exactly? Singer, songwriter, or on the soundboard? Mixing, mastering, or producing? Write for Billboard, Variety, or Rolling Stone magazines? Roadie, agent, or manager?
We only have so much space here, so we’ll stop. The point is you’ll need some direction when setting out to make it in this business. Now, that isn’t to say you can’t be a jack of all trades. You could start running cable for a regional band, move up to running the soundboard, and work yourself into a management position.
There’s nothing wrong with that. You’ll have a greater understanding of the business and develop a great work ethic. But going that route means it will probably take years to get where you want to be. So why not focus on that endpoint from the start? Give yourself some direction and keep steady.
Of course, it won’t hurt to know a little bit about a lot. You may want to be an audio engineer, but you’ll still need to know how to work with artists. And it doesn’t hurt to ask a lot of the questions or take on extra work once your foot is in the door.
You might even discover a more enjoyable career in the process. So make yourself available. You never know who you might meet when offering to stay late in the studio to help set up the room for a 2 a.m. recording session.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Yeah yeah, it’s an old, tired cliche – but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. That 2 a.m. recording session could be Kanye West coming in the night before a show to put in some work. Who needs to sleep? This is an opportunity to interact with one of the heaviest hitters in the biz.
This is why making yourself available is so important. A chance meeting today could lead to work a few months from now. The key is to take advantage of those opportunities when they show up. Be professional, personable, and do your job. If you show responsibility – and a lot of skill – you’ll find others networking for you.
Above all, don’t be a jerk. You may eat, drink, and live hip hop, but it’s not going to kill you to work with a country artist. Swallow your ego and show your skill. The manager of that twangy all-star might also manage an up-and-coming rapper and may put you two together.
Burning bridges in any industry is not a good look. Unless you actually are a diva, leave the diva personality at home. If no one will work with you, you’ll have a hard time paying the bills. Treat people with respect – they may be able to help you out down the road.
That’s the key to networking.
Since before you could remember, you’ve been in love with music. Pop, rock, hip hop – you have favorite artists spread out over several genres. You’ve read the liner notes, devoured Wikipedia pages, and Mom and Dad even sprung for voice lessons or got you a guitar.
It didn’t feel like learning, did it? But that’s what you were doing. How certain sounds or hooks are made, where your favorite rappers find their samples, that’s the work musicians put in to reach the top of their game. Maybe you’ve downloaded a few music-making apps and are crafting a few songs of your own.
But now what? While the music business isn’t necessarily driven by S.A.T.s and college degrees, you’ll need to get some sort of formal training. For one, it’s faster than learning by trial and error. Online tutorials are great to a point, but won’t be able to answer your questions in real time.
Attending a 4-year college or university can be a spendy proposition. And even though you’ve received a quality education, are you really that much closer to getting a foot in the door? You’ll still need to find a place where you can start putting what you learned into practice.
This is where networking can help once again. If you’re interested in becoming a Live DJ, find one you like, take in some shows, and ask for a moment of their time. Find a local studio where you can sit and watch the professionals work, or offer to help out.
It’s this kind of hands-on learning that will elevate your skills that much more. Find a mentor, make yourself available, and soak up everything you can. They’re already in the business you want to be a part of. They’ll give you an education you just can’t get in a classroom.
Put it all together, and you’ll have the tools necessary to start making a mark in the music industry. It takes time, perseverance, and a lot of hard work. At Recording Connection, learning, mentoring, and networking are an integral facet of all of our programs.
The Recording Connection family of programs, including Audio Engineering & Music Production, Hip Hop & Beat Making, and more, pairs students with industry professionals in a working studio. Our programs are shorter and largely less expensive than four-year schools, but still require books, quizzes, and tests.
This isn’t the time to be hanging out and playing on your phone. You’ll work, and work hard. You have a love of music – we’ll find out if you have the drive and determination to make it the industry. Many of our students have found work right after completing our programs.
But it’s not a guarantee. Remember when we said to be professional, available, and responsible? That’s how you’ll get into the music industry.
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