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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Category: Music Business

Your Reputation Is Based On Dealing With Just A Few

Andrew Hitz

I have always maintained that 95% of the music business makes it incredibly easy to be kind and courteous to them at all times.

Unfortunately, our reputations are not based on how we deal with the 95%. Our reputations are based almost exclusively on how we interact with the 5%.

The people who are easiest to work with in the business get along with everyone all of the time. They get along with the considerate people and the not so considerate people. You won't win any points for dealing well with them. Everyone does.

It's the people who always have opinions about every rehearsal or gig that they then offer up to the room unsolicited. It is the people who don't pitch in to fix a crisis that might arise on a gig because it is not specifically their job to do so. It is the people who criticize others while not worrying about their own playing or behavior.

How we deal with these people is what our reputations are based on. Fair or unfair, this is reality. I find this is a good thing for me to keep in mind when I'm debating whether to let someone know they are in the 5%, no matter how tempting that might be at any given moment.

So when you encounter someone in the 5%, if possible, view it as an opportunity to solidify your reputation as someone firmly in the 95%.

Networking Exercise

Andrew Hitz

I recently read about a great exercise for growing your network. (This comes from the fantastic book "Book Yourself Solid" by Michael Port.)

Make a list of 20 people in the music business that you don't know personally but would like to know. Think in terms of impact. Who can most help you to achieve your goals in the business.

(Note: The most successful networking is done between two people who can help each other, not just a one-way street. That's a topic for another day but very important to mention!)

Next, try to figure out proactive ways to introduce yourself to the people on your list. Maybe you will be attending the same conference. Maybe they are passing through town with a touring orchestra. Maybe they are good friends with your current or former teacher.

Figure out some kind of commonality with the first person on your list and plan your first step towards connecting with them. Always think about whether your route to connect with them will be convenient for them. This is very important.

As anyone who has ever seen me present or perform knows, I am always happy to speak with anyone afterwards. But there have been plenty of times when I had another engagement (particularly at a conference) and only had 10 minutes to speak with the eight people who wanted to introduce themselves.

Maybe send someone an email ahead of time explaining who you are and get creative about how you might introduce yourself. If we are in the music business, we are creative people by definition! (Or we shouldn't be in the business!) Use this creativity for things like networking and not just how you finish a phrase.

This is a topic that could be covered in detail over 20 different blog posts. This is just one small idea of how you can proactively attempt to grow your network.

While you have to have the skills to back everything up (or everything else is moot!), the music business really is all about who you know. So do something about it!


Networking Isn't About Instant Gratification

Andrew Hitz

"Networking isn't about instant gratification. It is about fostering relationships over a career."
-Jeff Conner of Boston Brass from Episode 7 of The Entrepreneurial Musician

Networking is just like learning a really difficult recital program. It takes a plan and it takes having the discipline to execute that plan over the long haul.

A lot of musicians are good at networking. Not many are great.

That is an easy point of differentiation for anyone in the business who is willing to put in the effort.

It's Not An Effort Contest

Andrew Hitz

"No one cares how hard you've worked. It's not an effort contest."

-Seth Godin

The music business, as with just about every single business in the world today, is a results-based business.  It doesn't matter how long you spent studying the score.  It doesn't matter how many hours you spent in the practice room.  It doesn't matter how hard you marketed the event.

All that matters is how well you can conduct the piece.  All that matters is how well you can play the part.  All that matters is how many tickets you sold.

It's not an effort contest.

My Interview with Seth Haines about a Career in Music

Andrew Hitz

Seth Haines of the great resource, The Musician's Guide to Hustling, was kind enough to interview me on my career to this point.  We discussed a variety of subjects including:

  • How I got the job with Boston Brass
  • How I proactively planned for my career after Boston Brass
  • Keys to freelancing
  • How Lance LaDuke and I came to create Pedal Note Media
  • All of my current projects including working with The Mockingbird Foundation
  • And a lot more!

Seth has a good thing going over there and it was great to chat with him about making a career in music.  You can check out the interview here.

Dealing With The 10%

Andrew Hitz

The problem is that sometimes it is the 10% that makes the decisions.  Also, we are frequently judged by the 90% on how we deal with the 10%.  

Playing your tail off plus being kind to everyone all the time almost always equals employed.

Comfortable Is Not Good Enough

Andrew Hitz

Here is a thought-provoking article by Tony Plog about the realities of making it as a professional musician:

"But in music performance, good or comfortable is not good enough. Sometimes it’s not even close to being good enough. This may sound brutal, but in fact it’s brutally honest."

There are some hard truths in that brief blog post that all of us who "made it" in music were taught as some point along the line. Thank you for putting it into words, Tony!

It's a People Problem

Andrew Hitz

"Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you're in business." 
-Dale Carnegie

There are far more great players today than there are paying jobs.  The ability to successfully navigate the business side of music has never been more important.  And by far the most difficult aspect of that is dealing with people.

Your reputation, both your musical one and your professional one, always precedes you.  Those who are kind, even to those who sometimes make that difficult, tend to get called a lot.  Sure, some people who are rarely kind get work, but they do so in spite of that fact.

With the current level of competition for even just quality freelance gigs, you don't want to be giving anyone a reason to not hire you, especially after putting in thousands of hours of work on the horn.