“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 equates with writing newsletters, updating websites, emailing presenters, and the like – chores that take them away from music making.
Of course, we all have to carry out administrative tasks to sustain our careers.
But the most important professional moves we make aren’t administrate but creative, for instance, when we come up with ideas for distinctive concert programs that set us apart.
And when we forge exciting professional opportunities, we practice or compose enthusiastically, and then administrative work becomes far less onerous.
As Cole Porter implies, opportunities, in and of themselves, spark inspiration.
With that in mind, here are 7 entrepreneurial strategies that can boost any musician’s creativity and career.
7 Music Career Strategies that Spark 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 maybe interactive concerts for the elderly or infirm? When you reach beyond your typical audiences, 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 shows? You might acquire some video production chops and stream your concerts live, or you could audio-record your performances and sell recordings right then on flash drives, as Aderra does.
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In sum, there are abundant audiences eager to hear high-quality music. It’s up to us to think imaginatively and then 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. Want additional help? Contact me for career coaching via Skype.
3 Traits of Successful Concert Programs
3 Ways to Boost the Impact of a Concert
The Art-Career Tango
Music: The Practical Career?
What Makes an Entrepreneurial Musician?
© 2011 Gerald Klickstein
Photo licensed from Shutterstock.com
This is very good information. Thanks for writing about it. I don’t try to get ‘paid’ gigs but do sing and play often with my church praise band. I’ve also done some outdoor freebies with my Grandma’s church.
Last year I was one of the winners with NISO here in my hometown. This is great for my college resume.
I’m starting to explore other avenues of income rather than only teaching piano. The website is one, but we all know how much work and time that takes to get going.
I found your list inspiring and encouraging. I’ve already been working on some of your ideas, like creating my own online piano learning system and creating downloadable music.
Piano Lesson Girl
Hey, I love the blog by the way. I just recently started doing paid gigs, I like the article, very motivational. Keep it up.