As musicians we tend to struggle in the area of maintaining and developing our music careers in terms of being able to branch out into new opportunities. This is because the music industry has changed to the point where some of the performing and writing opportunities that were once more readily available have started to dry up and we have to be more inventive with how we go about making a living at what we do. Jazz and classical gigs are starting to pay less than they used to, and are becoming less available to the many talented players eager to perform.
I have been thinking more and more about the question that is often asked by young professionals or college students trying to navigate this difficult music world. There's only one thing that keeps coming back in all of my positive musical opportunities: RELATIONSHIP BUILDING.
We spend a lot of time practicing and listening to the music we enjoy, and that's really the most important part of being a professional musician: being skilled at the craft. However, it is no longer enough to be able to play at a high level-- we all have to step outside of the comforts of the practice room and get out there into the so-called "real world" at some point.
This is scary and daunting to most of us, myself included. I'll tell you right now that this is not my strong point. I'd much rather sit in my room and compose all day-- but I've found that is not a viable option if I am serious about making a living at music.
That's where RELATIONSHIP BUILDING comes into play. As I look back and reflect on some of the opportunities I've gotten, they are ALL because of a relationship and connection that I made with someone.
I'm going to be very blunt here: I am NOT good at the business side of things. I don't consider myself a naturally gifted self-promoter, nor have I had much success trying to book gigs using my own intellect. But I have been blessed to get to know others who can help me out. And, in return, I do what I can to help them out, to promote their music and to do favors for them when the opportunity arises.
The bottom line is this: when you develop genuine relationships and friendships with the people that you meet in your life, you will enjoy your work more, enjoy more opportunities, and enjoy the rich joy that comes from getting to know people. You will also learn from those around you and together, you can all boost and encourage one another in all that you do.
Got all of that? ;)
is a saxophonist/composer residing in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.