It’s baaccccckkkkkk! Drumchannel.com and Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music are teaming up to bring you the Second Annual Drummer’s Reality Camp June 29 – July 2. This year’s lineup includes Alex Acuña, Kenny Aronoff, Terry Bozzio, Jim Keltner, Cobus Potgieter, Gil Sharone and Thomas Pridgen (with others to be announced) while LA Music Academy’s own Ralph Humphrey, Dave Beyer, Aaron Serfaty, Tony Inzalaco and Joe Porcaro round out the artist list. The four-day event includes workshops, lessons, master classes, special performances, autograph sessions and a DW Drums factory tour; individual days and evening concerts will be available a la carte. Here’s a trailer for the event, which will take place at LA Music Academy, located at 370 S. Fair Oaks Ave. in Pasadena, CA 91105.
Our staffers visit with a lot of prospective music students at LA Music Academy open houses and on-campus tours. It is amazing how little location factors into students’ decisions on what music school to attend (“consider the location” is the first tip in our recent blog post “How to Choose the Right Music School“). We can imagine how it happens — you get so focused on the intricacies of each school and the great faculty (Tariqh Akoni chairs the guitar dept at LAMA!? cool!) that you often forget that you are going to be living in a city for your entire time at college. Let’s examine why it is important to look into location:
There are music schools located all over the world with a million different climates so you want to make sure that the weather is conducive to your learning. Ask yourself where you grew up and live now, was it a cold climate or a hot climate? Did you like it? Have you ever lived in a different climate? It can be a huge adjustment. Witnessing your first snowstorm can be very scary to anybody! If you want sunshine year round, you might think about a school located in California. If you don’t mind carrying your instruments and books through the rain and snow, the east coast may be more up your alley. Go visit the schools and see if the weather suites you! Don’t get fooled if you visit an east coast school in Summer since the weather, most of the year, will not resemble anything like what you see.
PROXIMITY TO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
If you wanted to go to a music school, wouldn’t you want to be, well, you know, sort of close to the entertainment industry? People often don’t take this into consideration. Why waste time in a state that has NO music industry? The great thing about going to a school like LAMA next to Los Angeles is you get to use your time in music college to network and meet all the people IN the industry who will help you get your first job after you graduate. Not to mention, sometimes you need to be close to all the action and get inspired by seeing other people who have made it and living the music dream. Trust me it helps!
COST OF LIVING
There is no doubt that certain cities are more expensive than others to live in. Weigh the options. Would you rather live in a city with cheaper rent or live in a city with a slightly higher premium but with the benefits of being closer to the music industry? Also, just because the music school you are looking at is in an expensive city, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be smart about spending your money and turn it into a cheap city. Make sure to check out our blog on “Living On The Cheap In LA” to get some ideas.
Rumor has it that Axl Rose’s lyrics to “Welcome To The Jungle” are about getting off the bus in Los Angeles for the first time. It can be scary heading to a big city if you haven’t before, so make sure you feel comfortable. If you don’t mind living in an urban environment with higher crime rates, you can look into schools right in the heart of a big city. However, if safety is a concern, you might like LAMA, which is located right outside LA, so you get the perks of safety and less traffic, but still just a short car or bus ride away to being in all the action.
These are just a few of the many reasons why checking out the location of the school should rank high when you are looking at different schools. Don’t forget as well, that each one of us is built differently, so you may or may not adapt well to certain environments and cities. You will know which city feels right to you. Trust your gut more than anything else!
LA Music Academy vocal instructor and artist development director Dorian Holley recently hosted his student’s performance finals at Noor in Pasadena, CA. The soon-to-be-alumni of the music college performed for Dorian and four guest judges — the featured singers on Dancing with the Stars including Darryl Phinnessee (Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey), Beverly Staunton (James Taylor, Martina McBride, Michael Buble), Carmen Carter (Queen Latifah, John Legend, Nelly Furtado) and Antonio Sol (Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton, Celia Cruz). Watch our video recap of the wonderful evening below:
We could probably do an entire blog post defining what it means for a musician to be “discovered” but generally, use these tips to increase your visibility in an age where competition is fierce and everyone has a voice (and Twitter account):
1) Update Your Status: All right, so now that Myspace has become as useful as a wet blanket, how do we get viral with your tunes? Well, focus on Facebook page “Likes” and YouTube subscribers. Most labels have put more value in the above mentioned than your Twitter following! According to some nameless record execs, Facebook is exponentially more interactive then Twitter with a return on “calls to action”. So update your status and tell your parents Facebook is now part of your career.
2) Give It Away: That’s right. Stop charging for music. Instead, use a friend sharing service that requires a call to action in order to download. For example, search for a service that requires fans to tweet the free download link to 5 friends before they’re allowed to download your tunes for free (there‘s a ton out there, so find the best fit for your project). Even though you’re giving your music away for free, you’re growing your fan base while exposing them to your music. Many bands have done this and made up their money when newly exposed fans by merchandise, or the full albums (or prior albums) form your catalog.
3) Great Things Come in Small Packages: The days of walking a CD into any label and getting signed off of the music alone have long gone. They want an image – a brand to market. So give it to them, all wrapped up in a neat package. Include photos, press hits, any small merch pieces you have, press releases and of course, three (3) copies of your CD with only 3 songs to demo. We know you have a full album but give the A&R department only enough to want to ask for more.
4) Coffee Anyone?: Hit the coffee shop circuit. There is probably one down the street from you now that is begging for someone like you to take up a residency. What’s a residency you ask? Well, consider it like a scheduled TV program. Every week at a certain time, you allow fans to “tune in” to watch you perform. They’ll know where and when to find you, listen and hopefully bring friends as well. Ask your local coffee shop for a 4-week residency trial. If you’ve got the chops, they’ll love you for it.
5) Don’t Worry About It: Look, if you get discovered and sign a deal, it still doesn’t promise you an album release. So be creative and support yourself. Release EPs. Commit to new photo shoot every 6 months. Don’t rely on being “discovered” to save your career because 9 times out of 10 it will actually destroy it if you haven’t put in the pre-game time to develop yourself. Remember the saying “If you build it, they will come”? Well this holds true to your music and style – build it up and someone will come chasing after you with a record deal. Nothing like artistic control to put a smile on any artist’s face.
What other tips do you have to help fellow musicians get “discovered”?
We turn to our financial guru Clemens Kownatzki, author of Money Music 101, for Get to the Music’s first post in the Q&A series. From an LA Music Academy student:
Q: I put my songs up on Tunecore and make about $20 a month. Do I need to report this on my tax return? If so, how?
A: Technically, you are required to report all of your taxable income no matter whether you are selling songs on Tunecore or CDs on the Internet. Anytime you are engaged in selling a product or a service at a profit you must report the income from that activity.
The frequency or the amount of your income from selling songs are not the point actually. Instead, the question focuses on whether you are selling something at a net profit. Net Profit means the revenue or proceeds from selling a product or service minus the expenses associated with the production and marketing of it. When it comes to selling a song for instance, the problem is to demonstrate what costs you incurred from producing the song. That can be quite complex in fact. It is not just the cost of hiring a studio, manufacturing the CD or producing the MP3 and marketing your music etc. but also the hours that went into writing the song.
This can get very complex and in terms of reporting you are best advised to consult a CPA familiar with these types of transactions.
Clemens Kownatzki, one of our guest bloggers, teaches a finance elective at LA Music Academy College of Music.
He is the author of the just released Music Money 101 (pictured at left; available on Amazon).
Students taking Dorian Holley’s vocal class at LA Music Academy College of Music were surprised recently with a visit by Emmy-nominated music director Rickey Minor. Rickey worked as American Idol’s music director before joining The Tonight Show with Jay Leno where he replaced longtime music director Kevin Eubanks. Rickey has also collaborated with artists such as Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Ray Charles and Beyoncé Knowles so the students were really excited at the opportunity to meet and learn from such an established music industry veteran.
Read more about LA Music Academy’s vocal department here.
Everyone who subscribes to the Get to the Music blog this week is entered to win a $10 iTunes Gift Certificate! Winner will be selected May 16 and notified by email.
So how do you enter the contest? It’s easy…look for the “subscribe” section on the right side of the blog, type in your email address and click “Subscribe” (don’t forget to confirm your subscription in the verification email).
Isn’t it weird how everybody has an opinion on what you’ve decided to study? We’re betting some of your parents or friends think they know what is best for you. We applaud them for looking out but it’s important to do your own research and not rely on hearsay and inaccurate facts and statistics that naysayers throw around. If you are thinking about studying music it is extra important that you do the proper research because so many myths exist about what awaits you after you graduate. In this series of blogs we want to show you the real truth about having a career in music and all the wonderful things someone with a degree can do! In this ten part series we will be going in-depth into the different categories listed on LAMA’s Careers In Music Page, so that you have all the facts on every different career! In Part 1 we are going to dive into the career of “performance”. From being a session musician to a product demonstrator the careers are endless!
The most popular career after graduating from LAMA is the “Performing Artist” — either as a recording artist or in a group. One need only spend a few minutes checking out the LAMA “Success Stories” section of our website to know that students from LAMA have gone on to play in a diverse array of bands; from Tegan and Sara and Sepultera to American Idol star David Archuleta. Doors seem to open to the biggest names in music when they see what you have accomplished at a renowned school like LAMA. While your other friends are interviewing with 30+ other English and Psychology majors for a minimum wage job you can be jetting across the world playing festivals in Europe or getting ready to play on Letterman!
An often overlooked aspect of performance is becoming a session musician. A session musician or “hired gun” is called into the studio to perform a guitar solo, play bass on the entire record, or add in that oh so needed trumpet part. In fact The Kinks wrote a song about it — might as well take a break and watch this vid…then continue reading below!
What distinguishes a session musician from a band member is that they are just there for a specific part or role and are not a permanent member of the band. However many session musicians have made the jump from “session player” to band member. The money can often be quite lucrative (never underestimate how badly that Metal band might need a Violin solo at 2am!) and the experience is unforgettable as you leave your mark on music history.
One of the most financially rewarding careers in music is becoming a “General Business Musician”. This is essentially a band or group of musicians that can switch seamlessly between playing a wedding, corporate retreat, baht mitzvah or even at an amusement park! The reason this is so financially rewarding is you aren’t playing for a tiny dive bar with your grunge band but instead are playing for businesses who have lots of money at their disposal. With 7 days out of the week that’s a lot of time to book your schedule and play lots of different affairs. WARNING: Performances generally pay upwards of 4 figures per gig, so your out of work friends who went to law school might need to crash at your place or borrow money!
Unfortunately, there are so many more great careers in “Performance” that this blog post could go on forever and ever, which is why we need to split the topic into many posts. In the meantime make sure to visit THIS LINK to see all the different categories of great music careers. Look forward to our next Careers blog post on—Songwriting! Until next time, we will leave you with Cinema’s favorite “General Business Musician”:
So you’ve decided to attend a music school. Choosing the right one is overwhelming for many, but we hope this post will help you narrow down your choices so you make a smart and informed decision. Don’t forget to ask the right questions and be completely informed before making such an important decision. It’s your future! Here are 5 tips for choosing the RIGHT music school for you!
1) Consider the Location
Choose the school in an area that works best for your lifestyle – consider weather, safety and proximity to housing, public transportation and nightlife:
Weather: Do you want mild temperatures and lots of sunshine year round? Then you might want to look at schools in Southern California. If you aren’t bothered by trudging with your gear in snow and cold weather conditions, than attending a school like Berklee on the East Coast might be for you.
Safety: Often overlooked is campus safety, which is a top concern for parents of teens about to leave the nest; and paranoid musicians with gear that means more to them than any other possession. So be aware of whether the school is right in the heart of a busy, urban city. LA Music Academy is in a Los Angeles suburb called Pasadena—a smaller, friendly and safer community than say Hollywood. And Pasadena is just a few minutes North of downtown Los Angeles, but still close enough to all the nightlife and entertainment that the city has to offer.
Proximity: Do you have/want to drive to get where you need to go? Is there public transportation available? Do you have access to restaurants/markets and nightlife?
2) Factor in all Costs
Cost should be a key factor in your search for the right music school. Some music schools can be double or triple the cost of others and most often don’t mean a better education. Remember…is it the RIGHT education? You should be fully informed of the financial aid options and scholarship awards at each school before you make any decision to enroll (a good indicator is if they have a financial aid director on staff). Besides just looking at the price tag of tuition, make sure you think about other factors such as: Are there rehearsal rooms and labs on the premises? How expensive is it to live in the city where the school is based? Smaller cities like Pasadena will be cheaper to live in than say the heart of Los Angeles or Boston.
3) Class Size
Class size is also overlooked. That’s a surprise…because what’s more important than anything at a music school? Hands-on teaching/interactions and personal attention. It is important to ask about the student-teacher ratio at the school. If class size is important to a school, you will find that emphasized in a mission statement or throughout a school website. Does the school put restrictions on class size? Does the school provide an intimate, friendly atmosphere that ensures personal attention?
4) The Faculty
As a student you are going to be spending a lot of your time with the faculty so it is smart to make sure they are top notch and active players in the industry. Most schools’ websites should list (link to LAMA Faculty page) the different department chairs; you might have reason to be suspicious if they don’t. Make sure to read all the department chairs’ credentials and do some Internet research. You should be able to know right away whether your school has solid faculty. A simple google search for LA Music Academy’s Guitar Department Chair Tariqh Akoni, for instance, shows he has played with everyone from Josh Groban to Aretha Franklin.
Very important: make sure you identify who is a “Visiting Artist” as opposed to someone who teaches regularly at the school.
5) The Alumni
The best test of a school is to see what graduates go on to do after graduation. Most schools will be very proud of their alumni and have them featured prominently on their website. If a school doesn’t brag about their alumni it should probably raise red flags. Look for a special section dedicated to alumni updates and news. Company the school keeps can mean the difference between say landing gigs with Macy Gray, Herbie Hancock or Tegan and Sara; or landing your butt on the couch in your garage.
What other tips would you provide to prospective music school students?