87 - Where to start

Hello and welcome to the 87th episode of The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast, where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention you’ll get the inspiration you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.

I’m your host Tucker and this week is insight and inspiration and we’re going to talk about Where To Start

This week's topic once again comes from the anonymous 1-question survey that pops up on TheSparkAndTheArt.com. The comment comes from someone in Canada and says "When pursuing a career in music sometimes knowing where to begin is tricky.” In the first episode of the podcast I talked about How To Start and the decisions I made to get the podcast going. You can hear it at TheSparkAndTheArt.com/1. This topic is Where to Start. Slightly different and the question works equally well for "When pursuing a career in photography or dance or pottery or writing or whatever sometimes knowing where to begin is tricky.” I have some history with music and the question is about a career in music so that’s what we’ll talk about. 

First you have to know where you want to be. Do you want a career in music or do you want to be a famous musician? When you say career in music what are you picturing? A huge stage with lights and a crowd of thousands hanging on your every lyric? Or do you see a small home studio and gigs on the weekend. Are you in the front of the band or are you part of the band keeping the momentum and feeling alive. Are you creating your own music or supporting someone else in performing theirs? 

There are many, many ways to make money and a career in music. The one most people think of is what I described a second ago. Lady GaGa or Coldplay or The Dave Matthews Band or Skrillex or Steve Aoki. Those are big names in different genres and they all tour and sell albums. My favourite band is Jellyfish. They had two albums in the beginning of the ‘90s and broke up. The albums themselves are very influential in a small circle of music lovers. And the members of the band still have careers in music. Andy Sturmer, one of the founders of the band, now produces albums and writes sings for for bands in Japan and does music for cartoons like Ben 10 and Winnie The Pooh and Friends. Roger Joseph Manning Jr. is another jellyfish founder and he tours as keyboardist for Beck. Roger’s brother, Chris Manning, was the bass player on tour fir the first album and his most recent credit is as a sound mixer on the recent Star Wars movie The Force Awakens. The Jellyfish albums were filled with session musicians. These are folks who come in to the studio for a couple hours and play for pay and leave to do the next gig.

You can be a music teacher, an orchestra musician, a touring musician, a studio musician. You can write for other people, you can write for commercials or broadway. You can write simply to put songs on youtube. You can write for kids and perform at birthday parties and schools or you can be in a cover band giving people the songs they love so they can have a great night on the weekends. 

"But Tucker that doesn’t help you just gave me even more options”. This is where we get to the meat you’ve decided you want a career in music. That’s the first step. Now you have to decide where you are going. If you get in your car and start driving you will eventually get somewhere. If you just start doing music you will eventually get somewhere. Going to open stages and local jams will get you in front of people and people will hear you. But where do you actually want to go. If you think teaching is where you want to go you should probably think about school and getting a teaching degree. If you are a composer and love to create the music then perhaps writing music for video games is a path you can follow. That’s what Maxime Goulet does, you can hear his episode at TheSparkAndTheArt.com/56. If you are a writer then finding performers to do your songs is a path you could take. In last week’s episode we talked to Deanne Matley who is a vocalist and has only written a couple songs herself. She sings in many different styles and has a steady gig with the Calgary Big Band but also sings at weddings ensuring that the bride and groom have a great night. That is a career in music. 


So to sum this all up you can ask yourself these questions:

Do I want to write songs?

Compose Music?

Or be a performer?

Do I want to be a producer and help other musicians make their music? 

Do I want to be an independent contractor working for hire because i've become so goid on my instrument?

Do I want to have my own band doing original music?


Here’s where you think of the lifestyle you want:

Do I want to tour or do I need to live in one spot?

Is living with roommates fine?

Do I need to have my own house?

Do I need to support only myself or a family?


Here’s the hardest question:

Is music a passion that will sustain a career or an interest that will fulfil me creatively during my lifetime?


Okay so go and honestly answer all those questions in a notebook and you'll have a pretty good idea of where you want to go. 

We have a direction now how do we know where to begin? That after all was the tricky part that the commenter was talking about at the beginning of this big ramble. 

Take another page in your notebook and draw a line down the middle from the top of the page to the bottom. At the top write Important and at the bottom write Not Important. Now draw a line across the middle of the page and on the left write not urgent and on the right side of the page write urgent. 

You now have four squares and four words on your page. Now all the things you want to do and think you need to do write them in one of the squares. Win a Grammy might be on there as very important to you but it’s not urgent so write it in the top left square. Finish the grant proposal that is due in one week is both important and urgent - top right. Choose a haircut for the album cover is probably in the bottom left as it’s neither urgent or important. Now that you’ve emptied your head of all the things that are bouncing around ignore everything on the page except what is written in the top right box. Do this exercise as often as you need because the more you start working at your stuff the more decisions and choices will need to be made. 

Do you know someone who is looking to get into music and they are feeling a little stuck. If you think this episode may help them please share it with them. The Easiest way is to send them the url TheSparkAndTheArt.com/87 also on that page is the show notes including a bunch of links for the bands and artists mentioned in this episode. 

For more information about music as a career our previous guest David Andrew Weibe (you can hear his episode at TheSparkAndTheArt.com/16 ) wrote a book that you may find helpful it’s called The New Music Industry - Adapting, Growing and Thriving in the Information Age. http://dawcast.com/the-new-music-industry-adapting-growing-and-thriving-in-the-information-age/

If you think I was wrong about anything or just want to tell me I’m awesome I take both compliments and Constructive criticism on twitter @SparkArtPodcast and if you’d like me to play your question on the podcast leave your name website url and question or comment on my toll-free number at 1-877-966-4886 or if you just want to tell me a joke on that line that is fine as well. 

Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark. 

- Links for this episode -

How Do You Start Something - http://www.TheSparkAndTheArt.com/1

Jellyfish - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQTj_2mMfSA

Lady GaGa - http://www.ladygaga.com/

Coldplay - http://coldplay.com/

The Dave Matthews Band - http://davematthewsband.com/

Skrillex - http://skrillex.com/

Steve Aoki - http://www.steveaoki.com/

Roger Manning - http://www.rogerjosephmanningjr.com/

Chris Manning - http://salamandersound.com/

Andy Sturmer - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Sturmer

Andy Sturmer - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1543833/

Maxime Goulet interview - http://www.TheSparkAndTheArt.com/56

Deanne Matley interview - http://www.TheSparkAndTheArt.com/86

David Andrew Weibe interview - http://www.TheSparkAndTheArt.com/16

David Andrew Weibe book - http://dawcast.com/the-new-music-industry-adapting-growing-and-thriving-in-the-information-age/