Ahh, a day in the life of a musician. Sleep until noon, drink 10 cups of coffee. Switch to whiskey around 4pm. Shower infrequently. Forget email exists. Rely on someone else to make shit happen for you. Isn’t it nice?
Unfortunately, unless your name is KEITH F-CKING RICHARDS, that sort of day isn’t happening (and probably isn’t for him either because he’s still alive somehow). One of the first pieces of advice Ron gives to musicians just starting out is this: make it your job even when it isn’t your job. You know that old adage “dress for the job you want, not the one you have” -- it’s sort of like that. Even if you have a manager, you always need to stay on top of what’s going on with your career. If you’re just starting out, your manager will have a very limited reach in terms of what they can do for you -- you need to help them out and play your part. If you don’t have a manager, you need to self-manage and work on making it worthwhile for someone to manage you. We’ll talk about scheduling your day in a future post, but the overall concept is that if you’re sitting around waiting for stuff to just fall into place, it probably never will. Don’t be afraid of email. Email is your friend. Also, it’s time to quit thinking that getting a manager is the end goal and that everything after that will just sort of magically happen. It won’t.
This is a hard one for newbies (and sometimes vets) to grasp. It’s TOUGH. For a long time you’re probably going to feel like you’re working three jobs. You’ll have your job that pays the bills, then your budding music career in the works (which will take hours of focus each day), and you’ll either be gigging or going to gigs whenever you can. This is not for the faint of heart, but it’s the only way to turn this thing into the only thing.
For all of the managers (or want-to-be-managers out there) - this applies to you too! Speaking from my own experience (hey, Blair here), I didn’t start managing Ron full time until I’d been working with him for 2 years as a “side project” (ha). During the day, I had a full-time corporate job in advertising and then I’d come home and send emails, create his brand, work on pitches, and go meet people at shows until I’d crash sometime around 1:00AM… and then get up for work again at 7:00AM the next day. Finally, one day it made financial sense to take the plunge and go at it full time, but not for quite a while.
Bottom line - this is YOUR career. Until you’ve built up a strong team that you can trust, you absolutely have to treat this like it's your job & not a hobby.
Finally - here are some helpful tips for treating this like your job:
Wake up at a reasonable hour even if your day job doesn’t call for it. Labels, managers, and agents, all try to keep normal business hours and that’s the only acceptable time to email them if you’re looking to partner up. If I get a cold email at 1AM I am instantly annoyed. If you have to work during the day there are some nifty email schedulers out there that will send them during appropriate hours (my go-to is Boomerang).
Carve out a couple of hours each day to research people in the industry, other musician’s brands, and listen to new music (“research” essentially means to spend time on the internet looking at stuff you already love!). This could also read: pay attention to musicians you like & what they have going on. Easy peasy.
Check your damn email daily
Respond to your damn email daily
REASON TO IGNORE THIS ADVICE: You are Keith Richards. (Hey, even Beyonce runs shit in her career)
What am I reading? Advice by the Slice is a weekly blog giving independent/growing artists small pieces of advice throughout the year. Through growing Ron Pope’s career from baby-sized part time gig to (what most consider) a successful independent full-time thing with millions of streams, sold out tours, and living as a mostly full grown adult, we get questions all the time about how to “make it.” Full disclosure: We are not experts and there is no formula. However, these are things we’ve tried along the way and have proven to be positive for an artist. Why one piece weekly? Well, we often feel like throwing a whole lot of advice/opinions at someone makes them want to crawl in a hole and say goodbye to the music industry forever, so this feels a little more manageable. Also, by the slice pizza joints are the best spots on earth, so this is also our homage to those guys. So, here’s to a year’s worth of tricks to try and slices of pie. Cheers!
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