Posted: 21 June 2018
The great thing about music is that anyone can get involved but sometimes we don't know where to start. That's where Make Music Day comes in. Also known as World Music Day, this global day of celebration encourages people from all walks of life to come together to make, listen to, and enjoy music. Across the world musicians young and old are getting having a go at creating music at their local community centres, in music shops and even in the streets. But what if you want to do more with your music? What if you want to turn this hobby into a career?
Take one look at your TV guide and you’ll see countless programmes selling you promises of fast fame and instant chart success. One audition could make you a star. One buzzer, one turn of a chair, one standing ovation could change your life. Yet all too often we see these overnight sensations pale quickly into insignificance.
So what exactly does it take to make it to the top? In this new series we look at the reality of life in the music industry and explore the challenges people face when taking their music to the next level. From rehearsing in your parent’s garage to performing your first gig to sending demos to a record label. We chart your journey as an aspiring artist, unpacking the various hurdles you might face along the way.
Our series begins with ‘Am I Ready?’. If you’re serious about a career as a musician, here are some things to think about first.
Life in the music industry can be brutally competitive and while some thrive under this kind of pressure, others crumble. With so many acts competing for a limited space at the top, rejection is common. Gigs can be cancelled, record deals can fall through and bands can break up. All of this makes life as a musicians pretty uncertain. But there are perks to this lifestyle too. Some people are driven by criticism and adversity and channel their career frustrations into their music. Although there’s no doubting that the industry is tough, through writing, recording and touring, you may gain experiences you could never achieve in your day to day life.
Why? It’s a question people are going to keep asking you throughout your career. Why are you doing this? Why should we take a chance on you? Why are you any different from the other artists we've seen? They’re probably questions you’ll be asking yourself too. And the why is important. Your mindset and motivations have the power to make or break you. It isn’t just about a passion for music—people will expect that—it's also about ambition, dedication and a willingness to take direction. It’s easy to talk about your hunger to succeed but it can be a lot harder to put that into practice, especially when it involves taking criticism, coming out of your comfort zone and making difficult sacrifices.
Sometimes the best way of figuring out if you’re ready is ruling out all other options. Many people don’t take into account that a career in music isn’t the only way to keep music in their life. Now more than ever there’s opportunities to enjoy music as an amateur. You could join an ensemble, jam with friends, perform at charity events and open mic nights or even share your music online.
There are also alternative jobs in the music industry such as songwriting, production and journalism or even working for a record label or music distributor.
While money should never stand in the way of your dreams, most of us have bills to pay and starving for our art just isn’t an option. You’d be forgiven for thinking that becoming a musician will land you a spot on Forbes’ rich list, but in reality making money as a musician can be hard. In the UK, the average annual salary of a musician is £24,000 but can drop as low as £9,000. And the culprit? A combination of expensive start up costs coupled with an unstable income and a relatively low pay for gigs and album sales. Although your dreams of becoming a billionaire musician are probably a little misguided, there are ways to save money and even make money while taking your career to the next level. We’ll explore this more later in the series.
When it comes to the music industry, talent is not only highly subjective but also hard to measure. You’ll meet people who love your sound and people who hate it. Therefore, the question isn’t necessarily do other people think you’re talented but do you think you’re talented? Self-belief and a confidence in your abilities goes a long way to convince people in the industry to take a chance on you. Of course musical ability comes in pretty handy too. Making good music takes skill so don’t be afraid to work on your singing technique or get some music lessons before fully diving into a music career.
Ultimately only you can answer whether or not you’re ready to become a musician. It might be a decision that you come to after an agonising debate or you may just wake up with a gut feeling. We asked our Marshall Records artists how they knew that they were ready to pursue a career in music. Here's what they had to say: