Introductory Words of Advice - Getting Started in the Music Business

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Read as many books as you can about how the music industry works. In addition to the more than 133 Texas colleges and universities that offer music courses, the music business requires a lot of on-the-job training supplemented by your ability to teach yourself through reading. As you read, try to teach yourself the questions you would ask someone who seems to be interested in you as an artist. For example, if you are talking to a prospective manager, ask questions such as: what is your typical commission from my gross or net earnings? What other artists do you currently represent? Have you secured record deals for them? With what label? Do you have a publishing company?

Don't be afraid to ask tough questions of the managers, booking agents, publishers, promoters and others you contact, or who contact you. If a tough question scares them away, you probably wouldn't have wanted to work with them in the long run anyway. Remember: nothing is "free" in this business. If someone wants to pay for you to make a recording and doesn't first offer you a contract to review, then chances are great that recording will come back to haunt you later in your career. Never sign anything without first having your attorney (one who you find on your own and who you pay for yourself) review that contract first. If someone is "in a hurry" to have you sign something, chances are excellent that you might want to slow down.

Go out to hear live music as much as your time and budget permits. By watching professionals, you'll learn the do's and don'ts of live performance. If the opportunity arises, try striking up a conversation with members of bands while they are on break or after their show. You should begin to compile information on every live music venue in your area, and who is responsible for booking talent at each. Take advantage of every opportunity you can to perform. (Practice makes perfect, even if the type of music you're playing isn't exactly your first choice.)

 

How can I find musicians for my band?

  • Compose 25, 50 and 75 word descriptions describing your band to prospective musicians.
  • Create 5 by 7-inch index cards to put on bulletin boards. Music businesses that usually have bulletin boards include record stores, musical instrument stores, college and university music departments, and rehearsal studios.
  • Contact local weekly and monthly publications with music coverage to ask if they have a "musicians' referral" section in their classified ads.
  • Meet local musicians (on breaks or after shows; at music-related association meetings) to see if they need additional or replacement band members, or if they have any side projects.
  • Contact the local office of the musicians' union, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM).
  • Talk to local club booking agents.
  • Post a notice in on-line Texas music newsgroups such as news:austin.music.
  • Check the "musician's wanted" listings on Craigslist: Craigslist AustinCraigslist DallasCraigslist El PasoCraigslist Houston.

The Texas music Office (TMO) can provide you with a list of any music business categories mentioned above.