The Music Business – Mind Your Manners

In my travels I have been fortunate enough to be-friend some amazing people that were heavily involved in the music industry. One of those became a good friend of mine and she introduced me to some guys who were looking to put a band together.

They asked her if she would join and she said yes, but on one condition, and that condition was that she could bring me along too. I had never played live in a band before, I had never had a guitar or singing lesson, but luckily for me, she obviously had enough confidence in me. Her name is MaryAnne Rex, a very talented guitarist with a wicked sense of humour and is a great friend that would do anything for you. I will never forget what she did for me all those years ago because without her, I may never have achieved the things that I have.

The most important thing I remember she taught me was the discipline needed to work in the music industry.

  • How to dress when you are on stage
  • How to be reliable and not let anyone down
  • How important it was to be there no matter what
  • How to run your band as a business.    

How many times do you hear about successful bands that are now broke?, and usually it is because no-one really bothered to keep an eye on the money side of things.

The most important aspect of the discipline is ‘The Gig’. No matter what, you must be there. Rain, hail or shine, in sickness or in health, you must turn up to play.

You must also be respectful of the times set out by the venue manager when it comes to

  • loading in the sound and lighting gear
  • when they want the sound checks done
  • when your performance times are.

There is nothing worse than ticking off a venue manager which will lead to ticking off your agent, which will then lead to never working in the industry again. It is that simple.

You need to be professional at all times, but remember to have some fun too. I remember some of the most fun I have ever had is when we went on the road to do some mini tours around New South Wales. We did not get much sleep but we had heaps of fun.

Be prepared to make some sacrifices to achieve things in your band. The worst times are when you are dog tired or even sick. It does not matter, you have to be there. That is the type of discipline you will need.

My worst nightmare was having to ask the boss if I could leave early from work. He was the boss from hell and made things really challenging for me. One day, I had had enough and I resigned! There were a few other reasons at the time but I was positive I was making the right decision. A little risky? Yeah sure, but I was not going to fulfill my dream working full time in a post office.

Have you ever heard about the ladder of success? The music business is no different. Start at the bottom, even if it is against your better judgment, and work your way up. You never know who is in the audience at the worst gig in the worst little pub.

Working behind the scenes of a band is exciting too. There are many opportunities and lots of things to learn working as a sound engineer or lighting technician. What about as a tour manager or publicist?

I was lucky enough to get a job in the agency that represented my first band, ‘Backchat’ in Sydney. (The band my friend helped me get into). I had resigned from my government job and started at the agency two days a week rolling posters and doing the banking. Over a period of about 18 months, I was practically running the place. From that job, I joined another band, and in that band, I met my future husband. Just as well I resigned from that government job eh?

Just a little tip for you to remember. If you ever meet anyone that is even slightly famous, and they just happen to compliment you and strike up a conversation with you, don not forget to swap contact details. You never know where that could take you. I have kicked myself in the butt so many times over the years for letting an opportunity like that get away. The guy just happened to be a popular session musician who had many friendships with a lot of famous people. Big mistake!

Anyway, I hope you have a lot of fun, and learn everything you need to achieve your goals.