The professional musician needs to have 5 characteristics (not to mention playing well, which is the minimum expected): Ungeekit listed them and defended why each of them is essential for his career to go much further.
Being a musician is amazing. It’s almost a crime that people can be paid to play. But, like crime, music doesn’t usually compensate. In order to be able to make the performances that pay off, and keep getting others from them, the musician needs to exude confidence and reliability that is less glamorous than the sexy life of a rock star. It may seem that these qualities are obvious to a professional musician, but you would be surprised to see how many divas out there do not respect them.
1) Follow the recommendations well
Since most musicians make a living playing for other people, they need to be good at doing what they want. If that phrase sounds kind of generic, well, it’s generic. Whether you’re hired to play a wedding, write a jingle, play with a band, being a studio musician, play a Broadway musical (or your neighborhood theater), you have to be good at following recommendations, requests and orders.
Most of the time, these recommendations are given inappropriately by people who do not understand music, but the professional musician should be able to translate any kind of request, and quickly, without getting frustrated and making the customer happy. In other situations you will receive direct and quick orders from a music director who knows exactly what you want, and your ability to adapt quickly is essential. In this kind of communication, there is no room to ask questions. Doing well in this kind of situation will get you recommendations which will get you more work.
2) Be well organized
In other words, have a calendar and know how to measure the time. There is nothing more frustrating than delays. In a world where a lot of musicians agree to play for $ 50, to pay the bills at the end of the month, the times are often crazy. Everyone is trying to fit a class with a rehearsal and still do a show at night. But if you don’t realize everything and are late to where you should be, you’ll lose work. That simple.
What’s more, you will probably also have to know a lot of songs. Many musicians play with various bands, so they need to know by heart their own songs and those of the groups that hired them, as well as good covers for weddings or business parties. Storing so much music in your head is easier as you train, but in the beginning you’ll have to learn how to get organized. Matt Baldoni, a very successful freelance guitarist, wrote a text on how to memorize songs quickly.
There is a saying among musicians that goes something like this:
An amateur trains until he gets it right, a pro trains until he never gets it wrong.
3) Have good communication skills
When dealing with people who don’t know anything about music and know very little about this market, you will have to know how to lead the conversation. Suggest things, draft contracts and know how to say what you deserve without looking greedy. Don’t be too proud to ask what you want to know.
At the other pole possible, you will deal with other musicians. Appear in the first rehearsal with all songs ready. If it’s your show or if you’re the music director, have your music well written and formatted in a Finale or Sibelius program. The scores must accurately show the melody track (choruses, syllable division, etc.). If you want other musicians to learn music from a CD or MP3s, give them the correct tracks and let them know if you have any tone changes or abbreviations that are not in the recording. This care will make the first rehearsal run as smooth as possible.
4) Play well with others
This need not be said, but you would be surprised if you did not know. Not only should you know how to play like a monster, you should also know how to lower your tone and how to play what others want from you. Using a stereotype, guitarists are known to set the amplifiers to maximum sound and never shut up. The singers are amazed when they are not singing and lose their cues to get into the music. The drummers make too much noise. Those who play metal do not hear their colleagues, so the collective gets a sloppy sound. This is all the basics of music, but some don’t pay attention.
It is very important that you perform well on your solo, it is more important that you can mix well with other musicians or can support another musician on your solo. Tastefully playing and delivering a complete product will get you more shows than breaking it all by yourself.
5) Get ready for work
Finally, the big difference between one professional and the others is the preparation. And that is the same in all areas. A professional salesperson should know your product well. A professional marketer should know her target audience. A janitor should know what products to use to clean marble. Similarly, a musician should appear for the show with the right instruments, dressed appropriately, and prepared to play all the songs right. Let me repeat a part of it. A professional musician dresses appropriately. No matter what kind of show, you have to have a proper outfit. Hawaiian is a bad idea unless you wear a raffia skirt.
In short, if you want to establish yourself as a professional musician, take a step back and look at these five characteristics. Music is a competitive market and playing your instrument well is only the first step to becoming a professional musician. Anyone who wants to take their career to the next step must learn to do these other things, which go beyond playing well.