“All the inspiration I ever needed was a phone call from a producer.”
–Cole Porter, composer (The Musician’s Way, p. 108)
Many musicians mistakenly deem career-building tasks to be anti-creative.
For them, career development solely equates with writing newsletters, updating websites, emailing presenters, and the like – chores that take them away from practicing.
We all have to carry out such administrative tasks to sustain our careers, but the most important professional moves we make aren’t administrate but creative. They’re the activities that inspire us, that give direction to our music making.
And the more excited we are about professional opportunities, the more effectively we practice and the less onerous administrative work becomes.
Here are 7 entrepreneurial strategies that can boost any musician’s creativity and career.
7 Music Career Strategies that Drive Creativity
1. Craft Compelling Concert Programs
Presenters will flock to hire you if you offer innovative programs that draw media attention and bring in listeners. Plus, you’ll be keen to promote shows that you know break new ground.
2. Expand Your Audience
Are there venues where your type of music isn’t normally heard? Have you ever put together school programs or interactive concerts for the elderly or infirm? When you reach beyond your typical audience, you increase your relevance to your community and stretch your creative powers.
3. Compose on Commission
Dancers, filmmakers, theater directors, singers, and even business leaders often need music for their presentations. If you make yourself available to them, you open up possibilities for both income and creative synergy.
4. Record Distinctive Music
As with live music, recorded music that blazes with novelty can rise above the competition. Classical performers, for instance, who commission and record new works stand out as pioneers – and plenty of grantmakers support commissions.
5. Team Up in Unexpected Collaborations
Not only do collaborations broaden our musical abilities, insightful ones can lead us to new soundscapes and trigger bursts of compositional invention. These in turn can bring on ideas for concerts and recordings.
6. Create Educational Materials
From one generation to the next, aspiring musicians need up-to-date pedagogical materials. Who better to create those materials than you? The publications you devise can aid countless music lovers and earn you royalties far into the future.
7. Tap New Technologies
Suppose that you land a string of concerts: Why limit your audience to those who can attend your show? You might acquire some video production chops and stream your concerts live via sites like UStream or Concert Window. Or you could audio-record your performances and sell recordings right then on flash drives, as Aderra does.
In sum, there are abundant audiences eager to hear high-quality music. It’s up to us to think imaginatively and do the work necessary to deliver that music.
For more career-building strategies, see “Embracing Career Challenges” on pages 299-307 of The Musician’s Way.
© 2011 Gerald Klickstein