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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Music Business

The Brass Junkies: Phil Snedecor - Episode 46

Andrew Hitz

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Phil Snedecor is one of the most talented people in know in the music business and I don't just say something like that lightly. He is an accomplished composer, arranger, conductor, teacher, entrepreneur and on top of all of it is one of the best trumpet players in the world.

I hate saying nice things about my friends but some of them give me no other options!

I really enjoyed this interview for The Brass Junkies Podcast. Phil gives practically a step-by-step rundown of how to succeed in the music business. The information he shares in this episode is invaluable to anyone trying to make it (or make it a little further!) in the music business.

Good stuf..

Links:

Personal site
Hart School bio
Publications
Washington Symphonic Brass
Lessons From a Streetwise Professor

Want to help the show? Take a minute to leave us a rating and a review on iTunes.

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at https://www.patreon.com/thebrassjunkies. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Joey Santillo for Pedal Note Media

Can You Fill In With Only Five Minutes Warning?

Andrew Hitz

Filed under *always* be ready. From the Washington Post:

NEW YORK — Francesco Anile got to make his Metropolitan Opera debut in a T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers. With 5 minutes notice.

The 54-year-old Italian tenor was in the green room during the last act of Saturday’s performance of Verdi’s “Otello,” which was being broadcast on radio throughout the world, when he was told by a stage director that Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko was sick and unable to sing the title role in the fourth act.

Five minutes warning to take the stage as the star of the opera. With the Metropolitan Opera. Wearing blue jeans and sneakers. You can't make this stuff up.

You always have to be ready for the call. You might never get a second one.

In fact, just last week I was able to attend the dress rehearsal of the Washington National Opera's production of Siegfried. The understudy had to fill in for Brünnhilde because the soprano playing that role twisted her ankle badly during a scene in the Die Walküre dress rehearsal.

The understudy filled in with just a few minutes notice during the Die Walküre rehearsal and sang the entire role in the Siegfried dress. You just never know when your number is going to come up.

I got a call at my apartment in Tempe, Arizona at around 9:00 pm on a Tuesday back in January of 2000. It was the Boston Brass asking if I could sub for them in an emergency situation. At 5:00 am the next morning I was checking in for a flight to Colorado. I proceeded to play with them for 14 years.

You never know when the call is coming. Are you ready?

Here's the full article from the Washington Post.

EDIT: My friend James Hicks, Principal Tuba in the Navy Band, read this and posted this as a comment on my Facebook page:

"I was once teaching lessons in the northwest Chicago suburbs and got a call from Gene (Pokorny of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) at 10am to come in and play Till (Eulenspiegel) on the 3pm matinee that afternoon. Also, got called one Sunday morning at 11am to drive up to Milwaukee to sightread a John Williams program with MSO on a 3pm matinee. You never know...."

You truly never know!

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%.

The Brass Junkies: Dan Gosling

Andrew Hitz

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Lance and I recently sat down with trumpet player and entrepreneur Dan Gosling for a really fascinating interview for The Brass Junkies. Dan invented a lip balm called ChopSaver in his kitchen when he decided he could make a better product than what was on the market.

It is now sold in over 7,000 CVS stores. Say what?

Dan explains the whole journey from trumpet player who couldn't quite land the right gig to being a mad scientist in his kitchen to having his product distributed throughout the entire country. Pretty fascinating stuff!

Website:

ChopSaver

Links:

Facebook
Paige's Music
@chopsaver
@chopsaverguy
YouTube

#savemychops

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation athttps://www.patreon.com/thebrassjunkies. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Austin Boyer and Buddy Deshler of FredBrass.

Are You Invisible?

Andrew Hitz

"If you don't have a website you are invisible."
-David Cutler of The Savvy Musician

This has never been more true than it is today. In the cluttered world that is the music business, you must have a website to maximize your chances of getting noticed.

By the principal hiring a new band director.

By the management company looking for new talent.

By the presenter looking to book an act for next season.

Consider your website your storefront. It needs to look nice, be functional, and convey a clear message about who you are and what you offer.

Are you invisible?

The Entrepreneurial Musician: Jeff Conner of Boston Brass

Andrew Hitz

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Jeff Conner was my colleague in Boston Brass for 14 years. He is the only original founding member that remains in the group today. In this interview he talks about how they went from a college group playing small gigs around the Boston area to an internationally touring, full time ensemble.

Topics that Jeff touches on:

  • How he got a powerful Boston businessman to financially support Boston Brass
  • The importance of having mentors that inspire you
  • Perseverance being a key to success
  • Not being afraid of the word no
  • Networking being a longterm process
  • Why developing your own brand is essential

Jeff also talks about the book he wrote with John Laverty, The Porfolio Musician, in which they detail the careers of over 40 different musicians.

I have learned a lot from Jeff's approach to the business and I'm really happy that he joined me for this interview.

Links:

The Portfolio Musician: Case Studies in Success
Boston Brass


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.

The Entrepreneurial Musician: Brian Pertl, Dean of the Lawrence Conservatory

Andrew Hitz

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Brian is the Dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music and a former ethnomusicologist for Microsoft. After interviewing him for the podcast I was filled with optimism for the future of collegiate music education in this country. I also wanted to high five him.

He is the perfect meld of artist and businessman and I learned a ton from speaking with him for an hour.

Brian touched on a wide range of topics in this episode including:

  • How a $50 gig playing the didgeridoo led to his full-time employment for 16 years at Microsoft which led to him becoming a dean
  • Always saying yes when asked if you are capable of something
  • The importance of pivoting in one's career
  • How giving people autonomy over projects can unleash creativity
  • The value of questioning traditions within music
  • Being ready to seize an opportunity

His passion for combining artistic expression with entrepreneurial skills has him on the cutting edge of what a music education should look like at the collegiate level today.
 

Books Mentioned:

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris

The Savvy Musician by David Cutler

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
 

Links:

Contact Brian: https://www.lawrence.edu/conservatory/faculty/brian_pertl

Brian's TEDx Talk: http://www.tedxlawrenceu.com/speakers/brian-pertl/

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To help support the show to offset the ongoing costs associated with producing and distributing this podcast please visit http://www.pedalnotemedia.com/support-the-entrepreneurial-musician

Next Episode: Jeff Conner of Boston Brass and author of "The Portfolio Musician"

How to Become an Expert

Andrew Hitz

"You can't win unless you learn how to lose."

—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hall of Fame Basketball Player
"An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field."

—Niels Bohr, Atomic Physicist and Nobel Prize Winner

In the music world (especially the classical corner of that world) we are taught to never, ever make mistakes:

  • Always look at the key signature and never play any wrong notes, even when sight-reading!
  • Don't ever play any wrong rhythms.
  • Always play in tune, or rather, never play out of tune.
     

There are hundreds of these rules.  

The problem is this mindset completely fails us when trying to either acquire new skills or to get our current skills to the next level.

Until you have stood on a stage facing a bunch of elementary school kids and tried something that didn't really keep their attention very well, you are not an expert at addressing a room full of 7-year-olds.

Until you have played a Dixieland gig with no music and played the changes as they seemed to fly by, you are not expert at Dixieland music.

(Side note: Tom Holtz mentioned in a master class recently that every single person sucks on their first Dixie gig.  Every one.  The experts who are playing along with the new guy or gal expect them to not be very good, just as they weren't on their first gig!)

Until you launch a podcast network and record an interview that it turns out is basically unlistenable due to technical problems and you have to fall on your sword and ask them to do the interview all over again, you are not an expert at podcasting. (Thank you Rex Richardson!)

Think of someone who you consider an expert at something.  I guarantee you they have sought out situations in life where they "lose", make mistakes, and fail at a number of things, every single day.

That is how they became experts in the first place.

So go fail!

 

The Entrepreneurial Musician: Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser

Andrew Hitz

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For the latest episode of The Entrepreneurial Musician Podcast I was honored to have a conversation with one of mentor in the music business, Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser.

Dr. Tim has an energy, a genuineness, and a passion for his craft and life that is contagious.  He is one of the most savvy businessmen and entrepreneurs I've ever met and he shared a lot of his secrets in this interview.  I especially liked his comments about the entrepreneurial skills a young band director needs to have to thrive on the job.

If this one doesn't fire you up, you might be in the wrong business!