Music Business Info

Notes from the "Music Business Panel Discussion" 
Dallas Baptist University, Feb. 10, 2012
The only problem with this clinic was that it was only an hour long! The 4 gentlemen on the panel had an ENORMOUS amount of experience and information! One had sung opera professionally. Another had played drums on over 800 recordings and produced over 1000! Another had created a musical show that traveled the country for years before he settled into his DBU position and the 4th was a composer, organist, pianist with 40 years of experience and notoriety in church music.
They were all consummate professionals who earned their living as professional musicians. And they had MANY stories to tell!
For brevity, I noted these recurring themes throughout the discussion:
  • You will have to be better than you think you have to be right now. And when you graduate from college, you will have to be better than you think you'll have to be at that point! [ed. note(me): my teacher Don Jacoby told us "great players can't earn a living performing. Only PHENOMENAL players earn a living playing." That applies to every job in the music business.]
  • Meet people that are in the business and get to know them and let them get to know how good YOU are at what you do. {me: "What can you do, right now, that people would pay you to play, compose, record or produce?"]
  • With the rise of more independent musicians and the decline of "promoted and programmed 'stars' " by big label companies, the emphasis is now on quality and DEPTH of meaning in music. [me: How can you tell a story that makes inspires people or makes them CRY, laugh, reminisce, smile, relax, dance,sing along, bang their head, tap their foot, "sooth their soul,' etc.Music without meaning and emotion isn't music.You want music? Listen to BACH, Beethoven, Brahms, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Sarah Vaughn, Reba McIntyre…Michael Buble!]
  • Related to #3 is ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Marketing through media, social or otherwise. [me: You have to know the music business from the ground up. [me:  And you have to be BRILLIANT at everything from sweeping the floor to composing a masterpiece and marketing it to millions who WANT to buy it…and you have to make them WANT to buy it!]
  • Music is a BUSINESS. And it has it's own set of rules and LAWS, copyright and intellectual property laws. You have to know them or you may get "fleeced" or sued. Getting material to the marketplace is an ardous process if you don't "know the ropes."
  • To sustain your career, you have to be willing to put in long, hard hours of …of….everything! Practicing, tuning, recording, marketing, editing, networking, taking ever opportunity to perform, to meet players, get references. Dolly Parton quotes:


  • I'm not going to limit myself just because people won't accept the fact that I can do something else.
  • You'll never do a whole lot unless you're brave enough to try.
  • People said I was an overnight success. What they forget is that I worked for 20 years to be an overnight success. [paraphrased]
  • Be ready to take any twist or turn in your career. One day you might be a "gopher" in a studio, the next you may be playing drums/bass/whatever on an album. The next year you might be a producer and you might end up president of the company, Take every opportunity that seems right. (If your a major player/singer, you might NOT want to be company president.)


  • Be professional, polite and courteous. If you're "unpleasant," you will not get hired again! And word spreads fast in the business.

[me: I know of several great players who were put on the “don’t call” list for being “difficult.”  And I can guarantee this: if you make people’s lives a little easier, a little more fun, a little brighter, a little more confident or even inspired, you’ll get a LOT more work! This applies to LIFE! I’ve told you this before.]

And there are, literally, thousands of websites about the music business. Google will provide more intel than you could ever consume.

Of course, expanding on ANY of those points could fill an entire book. So get busy!

People buy BOOKS, too!

And here some advice from one of Hollywood's top trumpet players, Gary Grant (you've heard him play. Look at his list of credits!):



The Studio Musician's Manual
For a Long & Productive Career
by Gary Grant

[Used without permission, but LINKED back to his site so I am trying to send him visitors and customers! And if he wants me to remove it I will do so readily, if unhappily. It's free advertising!!!)





I've highlighted a few personal favorites. OOPS! I tried, but they are ALL VITALLY IMPORTANT!



  1. Be early.
  2. Show-up at proper studio.
  3. Be on time.
  4. Keep a good attitude.
  5. Keep mouth shut!
  6. Keep feet still.
  7. Don't talk!
  8. Smile!
  9. Mind your own business.
  10. Don't complain about parking.
  11. Sharpen pencil.
  12. Fill out forms immediately.
  13. Set up instruments 10 minutes before downbeat.
  14. Pay Attention!
  15. Keep earphones on.
  16. Don't leave earphones uncovered.
  17. Listen!
  18. Be Ready to play at all times.
  19. Keep hands down.
  20. Stay awake.
  21. Don't make any noise!
  22. Be polite.
  23. Say hello to leader.
  24. Charisma at all times.
  25. Don't leave the stand.
  26. Warm-up very softly.
  27. Actually tune to the given "A".
  28. Mark your parts so anyone can read.
  29. Don't ask questions.
  30. Watch leader.
  31. Stay mellow.
  32. Don't forget mutes.
  33. Keep instrument in working condition.
  34. Always seem interested in the music.
  35. Don't look ahead.
  36. Stop playing when leader stops.
  37. Never talk immediately after a "Take"!
  38. Never hang over at end. [yes, trumpet players love to…but DON’T!]
  39. Don't play melodies that may have been "ripped-off".
  40. Try to only have enough chops for that particular job.
  41. Don't correct wrong notes after the final take.
  42. Be congenial.
  43. Don't over compliment "great performances".
  44. Never point at other musicians.
  45. Use the "chain of command".
  46. Laugh at every joke.
  47. Say "yes" to everything.
  48. Blend and balance.
  49. Concentrate.
  50. Be quiet!
  51. Stay in chair.
  52. Be budget-conscious.
  53. Say thanks to everyone.[ Say thanks to everyone. AND: Say thanks to everyone. ]
  54. Don't be critical of fellow musicians.
  55. Don't drink booze on the job! [Or ever!]
  56. No drugs!
  57. Talk only on 10's!
  58. Do not bother contractor!
  59. Focus!
  60. SILENCE!
  61. Concentrate.
  62. Stay out of the booth.
  63. Compliment engineers.
  64. Stay away from producers.
  65. Don't eat booth food.
  66. Don't complain about air conditioner.
  67. Don't complain about mix. [don’t complain – you’re getting paid to play, not to complain. If anything smile, act happy and make others feel good about themselves!]
  68. Don't expect booth improvements, decade to decade.
  69. Don't "produce" from the orchestra.
  70. Don't pack-up early.
  71. Don't leave until you're excused.
  72. Pick-up all reminders.
  73. Clean up area when finished.
  74. Don't make an ass out of yourself!
  75. Never ever say, Who wrote this %$^$!?! [it could be the guy who’s signing the checks…sitting right next you?]
  76. Composers write for you, not for them.
  77. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE never lose your patience until after the third time.

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