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      Collaboration Contest Scoring   18/04/18

      Some great songs in the Collab Contest! Please see Other Contests and let me have your scores (instructions in the thread) by 28 April!    

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Good day to everyone at Muse Songwriters,

I am an improvisational musician who wants to learn more about music, and how its created, by interacting with other musicians. I don't have a recognizable style, not something that can be categorized. So much so is that the case that when I auditioned for a music university, I was told that they loved me, but had no idea what to do with me. They had absolutely no idea where I stood on a musical level, and they had no idea where to fit me into their school as far as what major I might fit into. During the audition for one particular major, we were in the room talking about other majors, trying to figure out where they could put me. They couldn't figure it out. 

In the years since I have started playing my instrument, I have been "in the closet" per se. I have not been around any musicians, and though I believe in and love my music, I can hear that that element of interaction with other musicians is missing from it. There is more I want to learn before I want to perform and play my music publicly. 


Thank you for your interest up to this point, now here is my question:

What starter-level job in music might I consider? 

I cannot stand the "music business" side, the idea of money and fame and record contracts and exploitation under the guise of publicity and success. 

Although I did say I am a very unique musician, I am skilled in the instrument I play, and I am gifted with the ability to learn by ear quickly, improvise, and remember songs l learnt by ear. I am also extraordinarily creative. I am not a virtuoso however, and the idea of getting a restaurant gig and playing music I really couldn't care less about, or learning very recognizable/skillful pieces just for the sake of appeasing an audience disgusts me. 

I don't have a college degree yet. I don't like teaching, and where I live, teaching in private music is very competitive. 
Ideally for now, I would love to work for a place that works with true musicians. The idea of being a for-hire musician in a recording studio, and being able to help other musicians write their songs, sounds like an incredible job for where I am right now. The problem with that is I am not sure if that job exists, and if it does, if it is at all a reliable job.

I appreciate and look forward to any suggestions or advice you can give me, thank you. 


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You impress me as someone looking for sincere advice, so I'll give it to you.

I recommend a career in something other-than music.

The description you shared clearly depicts someone with hobbyist (amateur) desires & goals.

There is nothing wrong with that, it's simply not a good fit a career musician.


I realize this probably isn't the advice you were hoping for, but it is the best I have to give.

After a number of years as a professional musician/performer, that was the direction I chose.

To this day, I believe it was the correct one for me.

Good luck & I hope you continue to enjoy your musical involvement! ;)




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Allison, how about you give us a sample of your music/playstyle? I find it strange you won't even mention the instrument(s) you play. 

In the meantime, if you don't like business, that will hurt you and probably badly. If you do like composing, however, and you write A LOT, you might be able to build a following and potentially have someone else handle the business side. It will also likely benefit you greatly to perform a lot. 


If you don't like teaching, well that's another avenue where you can't make money. But if you like the idea of being a studio musician, that could really help you out - if you can make the contacts or otherwise get known amongst the studio circle, able to compete either musically or professionally (attitude) with the existing studio musicians. Now... having said that, as a studio musician you will probably be asked to play in certain styles. If you can't hack that, then just maybe, if you have kind of that following mentioned earlier or the reputation, maybe you will be asked time to time to come in for your unique twist on things. 


Otherwise, I have to agree with Tom in that for the most part you sound like a passionate hobbyist. 


EDIT: Btw, it is absolutely true that often who you know is more important than your ability. So spread out, meet people, network, create or apply to as many interesting projects as you can and both do a good job and make a good impression. Make friends. And of course, continue to develop your ability. While contacts can be more important, if you're called up to do something, you need to be ready. 


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Tom and Moso, thank you so much for your kind and sincere responses. 

Moso, I am a non-classical violinist. I sing for my songs, and I am learning the guitar. I do a lot of things someone in music engineering might do, recording sounds and then do editing upon edition, experimenting with recording styles and environment, editing, etc. What I love about performing is that there is a connection between me, the song, and an audience. That is the power - even if just one person understands the strength and meaning in a song, and they in some deep way relate to it, then it was worth performing. I'll gladly upload a song or two later.


I like the idea. Perhaps I will try my hand for now at going into a few studios where I live, offer my services as an independent contractor, and see how that goes. Best case scenario, I end up loving it and going more into music, meeting some great people. Worst case scenario, they hate what I come up with and I'm chased out of the studio with pitchforks and fire, and I do something else I love. 

Thank you both again. 


One other question: right now, I feel very pressured to try and make it work if I decide I want to be in music. Should I try to approach the first job with trying to make it work, even if I have to force it, or should I go in relaxed and open? 

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Art can be tricky when done full time. To make ends meet, you often have to sacrifice love. But then, if you lose the love, what's the point? On the other hand, to keep love, you often have to be okay with it taking a long time to build up the necessary reputation (read: business) to make ends meet, or have to be okay with that never even happening. 


Now, of course, you absolutely can learn another skill in order to pay the bills. Heck, that will also help you grow as a person, and infuse itself into your music. That being said, you'll have less time to work on music. So again, tricky. 


But.... let's see... you're interested in music theory, multi-instrumentation, recording/production/mixing arts, composing, and performing. If you really love all of that, then I think you've got a (potentially) solid foundation if you truly work in each avenue. While not necessary, getting a music degree could help as it would both strengthen you as an artist, and give you the option to teach. (I know you said you don't want to teach, but there are many things and situations in which you could teach. You could teach public school, colleges, universities. You could create your own classes of whatever you want and market them to the city (most cities have public classes). You could teach arranging, mixing, production, composing... whatever.)


But yeah, if you want to make money, you're going to have to build your presence and your repertoire. Write, write, write, and perform, perform, and network, network, network, network. I know some guys who are highly successful - Emmy level - but they started very young and worked hard in music all their lives, not becoming truly successful until their 40-50s. (EDIT: At the same time, I know guys who have been in music all of their lives, who are incredible musicians, but in their 40-50s, they still live paycheck to paycheck, struggling.) They had a couple advantages of it being easier to gig back then (I think), and that there were less people with proper home studios. But you have the advantage of the internet/globalization, and lots of cool, pro or semi-pro tools that are much cheaper. 

EDIT2: And you will need at least a little bit of luck. Having contacts increases your potential for luck. 

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