Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Starting In Music: Dive In or Go To School?

There are more people trying to find jobs in the music industry now than ever before. Earning a living by working around your favorite bands is a pretty enticing plan. But to get there, many people are left stuck at the starting gate, thinking “Where do I even start?”
There is a lot of very specific information you have to know in order to work in the music business. Thinking you can find a well-paying job in music without learning is like assuming you can perform surgery with no prior knowledge.
The difference between those two is that to get your spot in an operating room, you go to college, go to medical school, get a job in a hospital, work your way through the phases, and ultimately become a surgeon. With the music business, it’s a little trickier. There is no set method on how to become successful. The first place that people will get stuck is, “Do I intern, or do I go to school?”
To be honest, the easiest way to get in is to just start working. This is one of those industries where the best way to learn is to jump in headfirst. Internships, assistant/office jobs, street teams, and errand runners are always a great option for getting your foot in the door. The key is to always be networking, always be learning, and always be working as hard as possible to stand out from the rest with your potential.
Other people may decide to go to a school that has a Music Business or Music Production program. These can be a very good option too IF you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Schools specializing in music related studies often end up being the one thing stopping you from getting a job. These schools know that there is a huge market for people trying to get into this industry and they will charge outrageous amounts in “tuition” for a from-the-book education in things such as marketing, studio production, music law, music entrepreneurship, etc.
The problem is that the school’s studio is not the same as the studio you want a job at, and the schools don’t train you in other people’s studios. The laws they teach are often outdated. Basically, you walk out of the school with a basic general knowledge of how things work in the industry, but you have no practical application of what you’ve learned. You have no track record. No resume.
The first thing that happens if you do get a job out of school is your employer will completely wipe everything you learned out of your head and teach you THEIR way of doing things. Believe it or not, there is a very good reason for this:
Every successful business in the music industry is successful because they do things in a way that nobody else does.
Everybody needs to have their own way of doing things. It’s what makes you stand out and gain attention. Schools teach you straight from the book, which is exactly what makes you disappear into the crowd of hopefuls. You need to have something unique to offer.
You also need to have a track record of successful projects. It doesn’t need to be impressive, but it needs to be there. People need to know that you have done this before and know what you’re doing.

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