I’m still puzzled as to why career management courses are still missing in some of today’s most prestigious Universities. It would be a shame and huge waste of time, effort and money, to not be able to apply the skills acquired during a music education.
Many musicians make poor decisions when it comes to managing their career. In fact, many of them may not realize that they are in charge of managing themselves. Musicians that may have been guided along by parents, teachers, student advisors or friends, may not realize that they’re in charge of their own career once school’s over. Coming to this realization is thus imperative to kick-start a successful career.
Perhaps it would help musicians to view their music career as a business. A business that needs representation, a business that needs to be marketed properly, a business that needs to stay up-to-date, a business that needs to maintain professional working relationships with other professionals in the music industry.
This translates into being pro-active with job hunts and interacting in a professional manner with other persons. Being on time for rehearsals and gigs, possessing proper phone manners, handling scheduling in a professional manner, being helpful and fun to be around etc.
This is not supposed to be a how-to article on career management, this article is supposed to merely awaken those that believe that gigs will magically appear out of nowhere regardless of how they interact with their surroundings. To give you an example; we organize a lot of auditions for those interested in cruise ship work. For some reason, a large number of individuals don’t have the decency to cancel auditions if they can’t make but decide to “no show” instead. Whether you want to believe it or not, this will hurt your career.
So take a moment to reflect on how you manage your career currently and if there is room for improvement.
If you’re planning on traveling the world to enchant people with your music, you may want to check out this book that Graham Cain has put together. He has drawn from his personal experience to put together these helpful tips.
Topics include how to travel with your gear on planes, what music to prepare for the various countries, how to be safe, and many more. It’s definitely a fun and informative read. Information can be found on his website at www.troubadourtravels.com
We talk a lot about what it is like to be a musician on a cruise ship, we talk about how to prepare for the gig, how to get the gig and how to perform the job well, but I haven’t mentioned the simple pleasure of being at sea.
There’s nothing like standing out on the open deck and breathing in the fresh, unpolluted air and forgetting traffic jams as you’re looking out at the open, uncluttered sea. To me, the sea always has a calming effect and tends to make me forget my daily struggles.
Many musicians look to a career on a cruise ship because they may be in a transition phase on land. They may have had some changes in their private life or they may be in between jobs on land. If that’s the case, you’ll love being on at sea.
A cruise ship gig is perfect to take a time out from land life and ponder your next plan of action. Due to the nature of the job, you won’t have to deal with paying bills, finding parking in busy cities, commuting to your gig etc. In other words, you will be worry-free for the time being (assuming that you don’t have any issues with the gig itself).
Many friends of mine have taken jobs on cruise ships with the purpose to sort out their lives and plan their future and this tends to work out just fine.
Being at sea for an extended period of time also teaches you respect and appreciation for nature. There’s nothing like watching whales surface right in front of the ship, or watching entire schools of dolphins escort the ship. You always have the chance to explore nature much more via the shore excursions that you may sometimes get for free if you agree to help out the shore excursion staff. You’ll get to know the different colors of the sea, depending on where you are in the world; the turquoise waters of the carribean or the deep blue sea in Alaska.
All of this while you travel the world, which is in itself the most exciting geography course bar none.
Of course, the seas can get rough and you may get sea sick from time to time, but that’s actually a good thing as it teaches respect and awe for nature that no Discovery Channel show can teach you.
Go experience it for yourself, you won’t regret it.
Let’s assume that you have already gotten a gig on a cruise ship. Now you should be concerned with keeping that very same gig. I say this because quite a large number of people get fired because of disciplinary reasons. In other words, they can’t comply to the rules and regulations on the ships.
I’m fully aware that us musicians like to do our own thing and don’t like to be restricted in any way. Interestingly enough, there is a new study out that seems to suggest that the part of the brain that’s responsible for following rules is quieted down in musicians that are improvising. More on that study in a later post. more info
As we’re always looking to get better, I thought I’d point out an iPhone/iPad app that lets you do just that.
FunkyDrumTutor, is an app that explores the rhythms of Bata drumming which you can then apply to many musical situations. For each of the rhythms, there is a historical overview, video and audio recordings, as well as the music notation, complete with variations.
The app is simple to use and they have a companion website from which you can download a PDF booklet of the rhythms and view some videos with suggestions on how to make the most of the app.
On cruise ships, us musicians have often the lightest workload (although some cruise lines are working hard to find extra things for us to do). This begs the question: “What do you do with all that free time?
Before I go on listing a couple of fun and interesting things to do, I just want to mention how important it is to make an effort to come up with something, otherwise you’ll be tempted to stay in bed all day or take the partying to unhealthy (and unprofessional) extremes. This may lead to a less than desirable mental attitude, which can hurt your performance on the bandstand. more info
I think it’s safe to say that most musicians are naturally driven to play as best they can. No one in their right mind would go on stage and embarrass themselves on purpose. We thus practice individually and rehearse in groups, to get the overall music to sound as good as possible.
However, tangible factors such as amount of practice or talent, and the experience of the individual are not the only ones affecting a musician’s performance. A much more unlikely factor may have a much bigger impact on a performance than we would like to acknowledge sometimes. The musician’s confidence level. more info
Let’s face it, being or becoming a good musician is tough. Theory, harmony, arranging, ear training, composing, history, sight-reading, instrument related technical skills, embouchure, stylistics, improvisation, ensemble playing… the list seems endless. One can spend several lifetimes and still not perfect all aspects of music. And I don’t believe that it is necessary to be perfect. Most, if not all of us, have weaknesses in some areas, and thus we practice and continually strive to get better.
However, I believe that there is one important aspect that a lot of us neglect, even though it may very well be a deciding factor in determining the success of your career. I’m talking about a professional attitude.
Since I posted this article, I have recorded a podcast episode on this topic. You can find it here.
We are currently looking for quality bands with high energy and character. Lead vocalists should have charisma and the ability to engage a crowd.
Bands should not only play great music with a fresh new sound, but should also be visually appealing and be able to create a fun atmosphere.
Go here and click on Party Bands to find out more.
Updated February 7, 2013
-Guitar & Piano/Vocalists Needed-
We are currently looking for young, highly skilled guitar/vocalists and piano/vocalists for work on cruise ships. Visit our jobs & auditions page to learn more about the jobs and the audition procedures. Contact information is