Monday, November 1, 2010
Paying Your Dues
The music industry, like everything else in life, grows in stages and you have to be prepared to do the work. Even though the industry in morphing, some things still remain the same and paying your dues is one of those things. I really don't hear people speaking of paying dues as much as I did when I was coming up as a younger musician/producer/entrepreneur. All of the conversation today seems to be focused ONLY on making money. Now don't get me wrong, we want to make money after all, as I've stated before, this is a business. The way to insure that you make money is to build your worth and the only way to do so is by paying dues and working in the trenches. As a musician, artist, producer, manager, graphic artist...etc... you have to get as much experience as possible. Any chance to play or perform should be taken no matter the pay. Now I'm not saying let people take advantage of you but the main payment you need is experience. I talk to so many young musicians that have these inflated egos because they have all these chops and CAN play but they don't have any REAL experience or repertoire to speak of so their earning potential is limited because they don't know any tunes. Even if you are not wanting to pursue a career in a cover band, you can still gain a lot from learning standards. I mean standards in R&B, jazz, rock & roll, folk & country. This will teach you playing discipline and give you an idea of what it takes to write, arrange and produce great material. I've done a lot of shows with musicians who complain that playing Motown songs are boring and they want add all of THEIR chords and arrangements to make it more hip. Well I always ask these guys..."How many hit songs have you written?" The only way you learn to be the best is by studying the best. Before you can create you have to imitate. All of those old songs were masterfully crafted. Each song is a lesson in songwriting, arranging, production and musicianship. The same holds true for producers. I said PRODUCERS NOT BEAT MAKERS! One of the reasons we have more beat makers than producers is that guys are not paying those dues. They are only concerned with selling BEATS instead of becoming great well rounded producers of music. Now I am not knocking anything. I love a dope beat just as much as the next guy and there is genius in a lot of tracks I hear everyday but that genius is stunted by the lack of respect and appreciation for what music REALLY IS. I mean we are still listening to Motown, Stax and Philly International stuff today because the music is timeless. It's not based on a fade or a particular keyboard sound or beat. Michael Jackson along with Quincy Jones and a host of great musicians, writers and engineers made Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad during the height of the hip hop emergence and those records are classic to this day. Thriller broke all sales records and if you study those records you will see that they did not rely on any slick production tricks or hip drum machine sounds. It was just great music, arranging, production and execution by all involved. Go back and check those credits and see what other work those musicians have participated in. It will blow your mind and they have and continue to pay their dues. Don't always focus on JUST money. Focus on being great at your craft and the money WILL come. Also understand that mastering your craft is a life long pursuit. There is always something new to learn. It is even key to remember this as a new artist. We have to get out and put our own music in front of people by any means necessary so that they can know who WE are. That too is paying those dues. So if you are afraid of a little work, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG INDUSTRY. There are NO short cuts. Pay your dues and go get the greatness that awaits you.
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