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So You Wanna Be A Rock Star?  Part 5 - The Biz

23rd September 2003

A very large part of what we do as musicians (indeed, the reason we do it) has to do with music - Writing, recording, performing, engineering, or any other of the many facets our calling entails.  There is, however, another part that is every bit as vital to understand as the playing of your instrument.  This is all about the other half of the term, 'Music Business'.

The first people you are most likely to do business with are booking agents and venue managers.  The agents find gigs for a commission, and venue managers/owners are the people you will be dealing with on the gig, as well as if you are booking yourself direct.  Where possible, get your agreements in writing, as this gives you recourse if there is a problem with the performance or payment.  One of the most important things you can do at this point is - get informed!  If you have an understanding of how the business side of things runs, you will be able to have a lot more control of your destiny in the industry, not to mention cover your tail! 

If you are a songwriter, you will need to gain at least a partial understanding of the world of music publishing.  This is heady stuff, and a good publisher can be your best friend, to administrate this involved area.  Any sort of contract, be it recording or publishing, is not a thing to be approached lightly.  Here is where professional help would be good, if you can afford it.  Music contracts can be extensive and confusing, and an experienced hand can save you huge losses and heartache down the track. Once again - get informed.  Ask questions, and find out as much as you can about your business.

When your career looks like taking that next step into recording and touring, a good manager is a must.  A lot of record companies prefer to deal with a representative who knows the business, in preference to the artist.  This saves a lot of time and money in explanations and misunderstandings.  Also, the burden of running the entire show is a great one, and not to be taken lightly.  Delegation can be a prudent business move.  Not only will a trustworthy, experienced representative lighten the business load, but also a good manager will come with a ready-made list of contacts that will come in very handy indeed.

Approaching your career in the music industry with the right tools is all-important, and knowledge is the best place to start.  One of the wonderful things about music is that you never stop learning, so there's never a dull moment.

Now - I'm bound to have forgotten something, so I dare say you'll see another entry right here before too long.  Good luck, and I'll see you at the Britney Spears/Madonna benefit gig for the chronically inhibited.

Remember, you can email me with any questions you may have, and I will answer them right here in Behind The Scenes.


Graham Greene


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