HAL RITSON #MyMusicStory
#mymusicstory #creativeminds #growwithus
We’re sharing the music stories of industry veterans, aspiring young musicians and entrepreneurs to help others make informed decisions when shaping their own story. Record Producer working with Duke Dumont, Katy Perry, Dizzee Rascal, Nas, Sigma, Cassius, Blonde, Iggy Azalea and many more shares his advice on how to turn your art into a business.
I have tried to be a professional musician twice. The first time I failed, the second time I succeeded.
The first time consisted of living on the dole and housing benefit, making music in my room and sending it to record companies. The music was OK, but I got nowhere and eventually had to jack it in and get a ‘proper job’ to make ends meet.
I worked in a serious business for seven years and then got laid off. While I was unemployed the second time, I was making music in my spare time between job applications. This time, it started making money. After six months I still hadn’t been offered a job but A&R men were phoning up, offering me £1000 to make remixes and my tracks were being played on Radio 1.
So what was the difference between my two attempts to be a musician?
The important thing is that I hadn’t become a better musician. If anything I was worse after having been in an office job for half a decade. The difference was that I had learned how to run a business and was instinctively approaching my music like a serious business.
I was applying the things I had learned in my day job to the product I really loved: making music.
Product Marketing: You need to be making something unique that none else is making but that people actually want to have.
PR: It is more impressive if people hear that you are cool from someone else, than direct from you.
Distribution: There is no point making things if you don’t have a way to get them to your customer.
Communication and Persuasion Skills: Convince that DJ to play your track! Get that A&R man to give you a break.
Doing a Hard Days Work: I walked the length and breadth of London with a box of test pressings I had paid for myself, giving them to the buyer in every record store in London, convincing them one by one to stock the record.
Art is not all you need to know about if you want to get paid for your art.
You need to understand how to commercialise your art. There are so many musicians who focus on becoming the best musicians they possibly can, practising, buying gear etc, when most of them were good enough to play with the big names in the industry at the age of 16 anyway. You get the gig by being punctual, well dressed, reliable, not having a massive ego and other, much more human, skills. There are 100 bass players who can play that part. They will hire the one they can trust to not screw it up, or annoy the hell out of them on the tour bus!
None of this should detract from making art you genuinely believe in. That has to come from your soul. But if you want it to pay the rent, pay the mortgage or buy your swimming pool (delete as appropriate!) – you need to have the rigour and focus of any serious business.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY? #mymusicstory
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