Recently I was asked to speak with someone who was starting to think seriously about a music career I felt the fact that I write about music I would not be the best to ask for advice but I thought instead of me giving the advice I would go around some Musicians in the industry and ask them ⅔ questions as seen below and following those are the responses I have had to date. Thank you to all those who took time out to respond to my questions
1 when you were starting out in the local music industry what advice would you have liked to have been given
2 what advice could you give these young musicians who are serious about getting into the industry
(this was asked to Graeme Downes of the Verlaines who is a lecturer at Otago Uni3 what kind of programs/courses ( such as programs like Play It Strange and the courses offered at Otago Uni in the department of music) can you recommend for them to learn skills for writing music and songs
1) No particular advice. I was able to start out pretty much because I was prepared for it by schooling and my own study.
2) Lifelong learning. Lorde had read a thousand books by the age of 12. I hadn't read that many by the time I picked up a guitar for the first time at age 18 but I had read top notch literature—Hermann Hesse, Shakespeare, Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Baudelaire, Yevtushenko, Gunther Grass, even Nietzsche and Adorno. I was musically literate from playing oboe, violin and piano while at school, and I familiarized myself with almost everything of canonical status in classical music that I could access in the public library. When I started writing songs I had amassed a lot of ammunition to be able to do it.
3)PIS is great, smoke free rock quest is great, the Uni of Otago programme is excellent as are others. It is important to realize however that there are limits to what education can provide. You have to be inquisitive as to what makes life tick and this includes difficult and problematic aspects of it. This takes courage and that can't be taught. “ Graeme Downes The Verlaines, Lecturer Otago Uni
1: Advice I wish I had: Stick to what you know is right. In your gut you will know what you like... stay true to your gut feelings... this applies in songwriting and music business.
2: Advice for now: Understand that music is an emotive medium and consequently people will get worked up over your music. They will "own" it. So, let it go. Get out and play to as many people as you can. Focus on this and the "industry" will follow.
“Donald Reid The Hand”
1. No advice would have really altered my path back then. I chose music because it was in my DNA and I had and continue to have, a wonderful experience with it.
2. They should be prepared to experience the ups and downs but realise that it's only a minority that can make a living doing something that they are passionate about and which gives so much pleasure. “Peter Urlich The Dudes, Nice n Urlich”
1 - no matter how tough it seems or no matter how many rejections you face - you never give up. You keep on going and you keep on doing it.
Question # 2 - the same. Additional notes I think the main thing to remember is that the "lorde: experience is one in a billion - worldwide. The reality for 1000's of other artist's is that its a long road that takes many twists and turns.It's OK to have high expectations but unrealistic one will soon devour any enthusiasms. Bite sized goals with the big one at the end seem to get to where you want to go without being disillusioned and get a backup job.
“Jan Hellriegel Cassandras Ears”
1"When I was first starting out in my singing, the advise that I would have liked to hear would have been ...''Just have fun'' . And if I was worried and nervous I would have liked to have been told... ''just do your best in a moment. Mistakes happen, but as long as you have done your best, you walk off that stage feeling proud, cause you deserve to"
2And what I would say to someone who is keen to do music as a career is... "Don't let 'what's cool and popular at the present moment' determine how you want to be as a musician and an artist. It is not money, fame or popularity that is the true importance of a musician. It is your goals, your expression and what feels true to you in a moment-that is the true importance. Don't live life to impress...live life to inspire " “Toni Gibson”
1 We needed to know that playing live was the most important initial momentum. That playing live ALL the time was crucial. We didn't realise the benefit of this till we got to Australia when we played about 5-7 times a week instead of 5-7 times a year as we did in nZ. Also we needed to know that recording sessions need producers and that taking 'responsibility' in the studio is the domain of experienced wise ears!!!!
2 Playing live is the most important momentum. Nothing had changed there. Work work work hard at it. Be careful about posting tracks online - Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, iTunes etc - that aren't of your highest standard. Don't throw demos up in the air. No-one wants to hear you say 'aw we could have done better'. They want the best you can do. So! BUT!!! Don't go and spend $5k recording one track. There are studios, experienced engineers and cool producers that can help acts make great recordings at decent prices. The recording industry has been around long enough now for those people to exist. Search for them carefully. When you've got a few tracks down - post that EP up! Mike Chunn Split Enz, Citizen Band Ceo of the Play It Strange Foundation
1The advice I would have liked is in a band situation the best thing to do is split royalties evenly - this ensures the right thing for the song happens and ensures longevity and prevents jealousy and ego getting in the way once the act is successful.
2Advice now - read the Secret and use the law of attraction to create your ideal future.
“Paul Reid Rubicon”
1 I'm not sure what advice I'd like to have been given. Maybe not to go into it expecting great things. Its a tough business and it isn't what it used to be. There are absolutely no guarantees in it
2 and advice I'd give is pretty much that. But I'd also say to be true to yourself. Don't write or perform just to please others. A crowd or audience will see through it. You have to be truthful with what you present. That's what creates a connection between you and the listener. Hamish Mckenzie Not Phased, solo artist"
Both questions melded: Hit it hard, hit it young. Immerse yourselves in all things relating to arts - it will help your songwriting and playing. Write and record as much as you can, collaborate with as many like-minded musicians as you can. Learn to use technology so it becomes second nature and learn how to record at home on computer. As you get better and better others around you will feel it to and start believing in you as a musician. If you want to get good gigs, support slots etc - they are not going to come to. Go out and get them. Spend a lot of time contacting promoters, venues, bookers etc. “Kurt Shanks Delete Delete Stella”
1 The advice I would have liked at the time would have been this...... if you're serious, go to the US and keep writing songs and touring until you are either dead or world famous
2 but now it's different so here is my advice for young musicians... Keep writing songs, find your voice, never give up and never give in. because of youtube it's now possible to achieve world domination with a great song from your bedroom (see Lorde, Gotye) that's the good news. The bad news is that you have to do something unique and vital to get your music heard above the overwhelming roar of your competition So get writing “Todd Hunter Dragon”
Melded answer When I was starting out I feel like I probably got the advice I needed, Infact I got so much that I didn't really know what to focus on, the advice I wish I had taken more notice of was to be confident in the music YOU like to make and focus on making that regardless of what is 'popular' or what directions others say you should be going. I also wish I was told not to worry about the 'business' of music so much, I thought I couldn't get on with music unless I had the 'look' and the marketing plan and blah blah blah which I never did have. I think it stole my focus worrying about not being so good at that part
If I could talk to my younger self(or youngsters now) I would tell me to focus on the parts I love, and collaborate for the rest of it. I would tell myself I was good
and that what I had was worth sharing - regardless of what others had in comparison. Comparison is the deadliest killer to our own success
just be the best you