Supporting music industry careers
Up until this point we've kept on track with our original goal which was how to make money with music. Here's where we make a slight swerve. Recording engineer, music store clerk, CD salesman, roadie, system installer - these are all absolutely essential to the operation of the music industry. Yet they are another way that you can make money in music along your journey to be where you want to be.
It's kind of like driving on the freeway in Los Angeles. You're moving along in your lane and the traffic is flowing along nicely (ok, this is hypothetical). Then all of a sudden someone cuts in front of you. Then back to his original lane. Then he sweeps across three lanes to your left. Of course he discovers his exit is coming up and he swings across 5 lanes of traffic frustrating everyone in his path. Fortunately they were all on their cell phones and too busy to notice!
The point is that YOU need to stick to your lane. You'll watch other people going by you left and right and apparently out of control as they swerve and change lanes, but you need to stay on the straight path. If you chose to make music then make music any way that you can. Don't take the farthest exit.
With that said, there are times when moving over one lane can be beneficial. Let's say you are a songwriter. Taking a position in a supporting role can have many benefits. These are the technical and retail trades of the music industry. These are the live sound personnel, studio engineers, radio jockeys, system installers, retail clerks, warehouse workers, and even record company intern.
The reason these jobs are desirable is that they keep you in the industry. You always know the latest. The latest artists, the latest gear, the latest concerts, the newest studio owners and in the case of retail, you'll know what all the other local musicians are up to. Sitting at home in your studio apartment writing songs is not the best way to keep healthy. Sure, that's what I'd choose, but I'd also quit cutting my hair and shaving my beard!
The point is, sometimes you aren't in a market like L.A., New York, Nashville, Seattle or Atlanta. Even if you are you'll find tons of work in supporting tech roles. You'll meet some of the neatest people and greatest musicians at an afternoon sound check with the live audio contractors. If you run a studio part time or are looking for a band to join, being in retail at the local music store can be your greatest source of contacts for additional money. If you want to produce young artists, then being a studio engineer can be the place to be for you. Your next big act may have just walked in to the studio you work at to record a three song demo after scraping, starving and borrowing the cash. They thought they were doing a demo to shop but they may have just found their new producer.
The supporting roles can be a great way to make money in music, even if it's not what you originally intended or it is just on the side. You get to play with the latest gear, meet everyone in the industry and go to the best parties. Once you get a name for yourself as a songwriter and are slaved to your 24 track reworking songs to fit into that latest movie or for that up and coming artist, you'll never have time for those things again. So get involved in the supporting roles, full or part time, and enjoy making money with music.