We tried to warn you. Getting a degree from a music school like LA Music Academy (LAMA) is more important than ever. According to a new article in the money section of FutureofMusic.org, going to Music School shows an impact on artists’ earnings.
This is the quote that really spoke to us from the article:
We found that music school or conservatory graduates were more likely to be earning more, working more, and were more likely to have a graduate degree.
To read the entire article yourself click here.
Over at Gibson’s blog, Arlen Roth, an American guitarist and Telecaster enthusiast wrote an entry about finding work as a guitarist:
…there are so many ways people enjoy music, that it seems that if one puts their mind to it, they can really make a living as a guitar player…
It’s true. We’ve written previously about all the wonderful careers in music (read: The Truth – Music Careers Part 2: Songwriting) and while the possibilities are endless, Arlen pushes an often overlooked revenue source for musicians: Teaching. Arlen discusses how there used to be an “un-coolness” factor for players to teach, but how the benefits outweigh the drawbacks:
I still felt the “forward motion” of my career, and I was getting further attention, not only for my teaching, but for the uniqueness of what I taught, and how it pertained to me as an artist!
Arlen has some additional thoughts about finding work as a guitarist. Read the full post here: http://www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Blogs/Arlen-Roth-s-Blog/June-2011/Finding-Work-as-a-Guitarist!.aspx?RSSName=Blogs
Last time we chatted (The Truth – Music Careers Part 1: Performance), we learned that friends and family don’t often know the truth about what you can do with a music career. We also learned that you could have a very successful career as a performer. A little known fact is that the songwriters behind the songs that performers belt out on stage often make the most money. In this blog, we are first going to give you the basics of songwriting and then examine some of the different career options you have if you want to pursue songwriting after graduating music college.
WHAT IS SONGWRITING?
It might come as a shock to you, and I don’t mean to pull back the curtain, but the majority of songs you hear on the radio or watch on YouTube are NOT written by the artist performing them. Pop and Country music, especially, have had a long history of using professional songwriters to compose the lyrics and melodies that the performing artists sing in the studio, on their records, and in concert. It’s not just flavor of the moment artists like Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears, but everybody from Frank Sinatra to The Supremes to Sheryl Crow to Elton John. Almost ALL country musicians make use of professional songwriters who live in Nashville or “music city” and hope a big star will record one of their songs. Most songwriters are musicians who have a knack for putting music and words together and typically stay behind the scenes. The key perk with songwriting is the fact that you get a percentage of publishing money. If you have been reading Billboard lately, you might have noticed that the only people getting rich in music these days are people with publishing because you can earn money in television and movies and not have to rely on the sale of a CD.
Just because you become a songwriter and you spend your days in a studio recording and composing songs doesn’t mean you can’t have a life performing. Brad Paisley and Bob Dylan started off as songwriters with other people performing their songs before their performing and celebrity eclipsed their songwriting. Many songwriters often perform regularly at clubs, similar to how a stand-up comedian trys out jokes in clubs to see if they work, songwriters test out songs. Other musicians pay the bills by songwriting while they have other performance side-projects and bands. Some performers straddle both sides, like David Bowie who famously wrote “All The Young Dudes” for Mott The Hoople or Elliot Smith who gave Mary Lou Lord “I Figured You Out” both at the height of their respective careers.
JINGLE WRITER RADIO & TV
We all know the story about how the NBA on NBC theme came to John Tesh in his head and he left it on his answering machine. You know that theme right? We all do, even if we don’t watch basketball. Check him out performing the song and telling the story here:
You might think he just came up with a ten-second series of notes, but it’s so much more than that! EVERYTIME NBC airs a basketball game, Tesh gets a very nice royalty, and it has entered our culture. This is the power of being a jingle writer for radio and TV. These are musicians who have a key for coming up with very simple and quick catchy music interludes. This is way harder than it looks! Radio was the original creator of jingles; while most stations don’t sound like this anymore, it’s still the same principle:
This is one of the coolest jobs you can have after graduating from music school. The music supervisor handles and supervises the music for television and movies. Not only does he or she oversee all the composers and musicians that might provide the score, but he or she also oversees the soundtrack. This could include all stages of production from a “temp soundtrack,” as the film or TV show is being developed, to actually doing the negotiations with artist managements and publishing companies to get the “sync licenses” for TV and movies. Another aspect of the job could involve picking a performer to sing a particular song, such as Randy Newman with Pixar or Elton John contributing a performance for “The Lion King”.
This is just a very small sampling of the many opportunities you have if you want a career in songwriting. For a bigger list you might want to check out LAMA’s Careers Page Link. Luckily, if you are a student at LAMA already, you can simply ask some of your teachers because LAMA’s faculty is proud to have many successful songwriters who can give you the inside track on a future career. Fellow musicians, next time those lyrics come into your head, or you start humming a tune, grab for a pencil, chalk, anything and get it down on paper, it could be your big break!
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”: