Most people dream of turning music into a career when they start playing an instrument.
While not all of us make it to stadium level, some of us are lucky enough to turn our
passion into a viable career.
We all dream of the big stage and the arena full of screaming fans, but there are many
other ways to keep a steady income while doing what you love.
I started playing guitar when I was 12 and all I ever wanted to do was join Iron Maiden and play amazing guitar solos in packed arenas. Over my time as a musician I’ve been very lucky. I’ve gotten to play all around the country in various bands, open up for some of my heroes, talk guitar with players I grew up listening to, I’ve even played in a band with one of my childhood guitar heroes.
In my 20s I started taking music more seriously, taking on various session gigs and tours.
This was the first stepping stone for me to secure a career in music. By the age of 22 I had set up a successful teaching business in my university home town of Exeter.
Fast forward to 2018, music is my full time job. I fill my time between a variety of things:
- Teaching Guitar
- Playing with a cover band
- Session Work (I do online guitar sessions)
- Working with other music teachers to help them find guitar students
It took a lot of work to get to a stage in my career as a guitarist where I had the sort of
visibility where people want me to work for them. Here are some tips you can take
onboard to kick start your own career.
1. Work Hard
Music is not an easy ride. You must work hard every day. You must keep working
and keep pushing. Push yourself more than you’ve ever pushed yourself before, and
when you hit your limit, keep pushing. Working in music is all about being told no.
You will hear 100 people say “No” before you hear a “Yes”. Companies will snap
you up in an instant when they can see what you can bring to the table as a
benefit. Make sure you sell that benefit to anyone you work with.
Keep yourself fresh, learn things every day and keep practising and working on your
craft. There is always room to be better.
2. Be Visible
It’s 2018, make sure people can see you. You need a good website and a good social
media presence. Learn about SEO and Social Media Marketing and find ways to
make your name crop up in searches. Keep your media feeds updated with posts,
pictures and videos and give people a reason to follow your career. If companies
can see that you’re busy and that you’re visible, they’re more likely to want to
work with you. After all, its your audience they want to target too.
3. Stay Connected
When you meet people, exchange business cards and connect on social media when
you can. If someone offers you work, keep talking to them. Make sure they know
you’re the right person for the job. Communication is key and it will help your
name stick in peoples minds. As a working musician, I meet a bunch of new people
every single week. I don’t remember every name and every conversation, but I
remember the ones who keep in touch and the ones who made an impact. Be that
person. Don’t let opportunity slip by being forgotten.
4. Stay Humble
Leave your ego at home. I know the rock star ego is the usual expectation, but as a
working musician there is no place for that. Do I want to be taught by someone
who is arrogant? Do I want to book a guitarist for a session at my studio who thinks
he knows everything? No.
Be humble and thankful for every opportunity. Working in music is not a given
right. It’s a career that thousands dream of but only a few achieve. Be a good
person and people will be good to you.
About the Author
Matthew Rusk is a professional musician and guitar teacher from the UK. He is one
of the teachers behind the https://mgrmusic.com platform that has helped over
34,500 students find local music teachers around the globe. He is always interested
in exploring how new technologies can help individuals learn music, believing that
teachers like Geoff are leading the way in providing music tuition in the modern