MusicianWages.com has organized a group blogging event for all musician bloggers. They asked us to blog today about the many changes, opportunities and surprises the music industry has seen in the past decade. The idea was to write a letter titled “Dear 1999” that answers the question “If you could go back to 1999 and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?” This is my submission.
Dear 1999 Jason,
I remember you well, and what a different person you were! You had yet to embark on your music career, you still held you day-job as Program Director of 103.7 The Mountain, an Adult Alternative radio station in Seattle (even winning Program Director of the Year that year, congrats!), and had just recently returned to playing your trumpet after a 9 year hiatus. You had joined the Ev Stern Jazz Workshop where you played twice a week with some great musicians, some of whom you play with to this day, and were picking up gigs in rock bands where you could. That workshop changed your life, as a mere two years later you would quit your job and jump head-first into the world of the working musician.
It was certainly a different time, in retrospect a calmer time. There was no Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. You were still using AOL for internet access and email and your new website looked a lot like this:
Back then you were so excited about the prospect of returning to playing music. After getting into the world of radio post-college, you pretty much forgot about your horn. But some rather earth-shaking events led you back to it in 1997 and by ’99 you were practicing and playing in as many situations as you could.
Which leads me to my best advice for you from the vantage point of 10 years of hindsight: practice!
Practice every chance you get. Practice anything. Practice everything. Do it in the morning before you go to work. Do it at lunchtime in a production room at the radio station. Do it late into the night with a practice mute. Just practice, practice, practice. Because by the time you get to 2010, much of your time will be spent blogging, tweeting, writing, making posters, flyers, gig announcements on Facebook, sending CD’s to press and radio, coming up with unique marketing ideas for your band and your music, etc.
There will be so many more demands on your time in 2010 than there are now. In addition to all the extra-musical things you’ll need to do to keep your career afloat, you’ll be married, you’ll be needing to get in shape (advice #2: start running now!), you’ll have friends, family, teaching jobs and so much more demanding your time. And this is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. Your life will be full of goodness and love and joy. But your time will be limited.
So instead of reaching for the remote or that bag of Doritos next to you, reach for your horn! Play Clarke exercises, play lip slurs, transcribe solos – heck, play “Mary Had a Little Lamb”! Just play. Do it often and do it well. Believe me, you’ll thank yourself for it.