The stereotype of the “starving artist” for many musicians is all too real, and a great way to supplement their income is by writing and producing music for other musicians. In a way, this is a two-sided sword, but if you are smart you will always end up on top.
Here are a few things to remember about this kind of musical business transaction.
1. Always be on the lookout.
The music industry is a fluid, organic place that no one can predict. Because of this, your next music deal could come from anywhere. Maybe that friend you haven’t talked to in a year knows someone who worked with Bob Dylan, or maybe the new fry cook at your side job is the best drum player on this side of the Mississippi.
Hyperbole aside, you never know where you could possibly strike gold. Always be on the lookout for opportunities. This can be as simple as handing out your business card and going to networking events.
2. Be realistic about what you make.
Remember if you are writing for a larger producer, a large amount of what you write might not even be published at all. These huge studios produce quantities of work and end up using only a small fraction of it. For them, this is the best way to weed out the lower-end stuff; it is quantity over quality. You can use this to your advantage, always making the best work you can.
Furthermore, remember to keep your skills in mind; if you are given work that doesn’t seem to fit, you make it clear. Your vocals might not be right, or your style in general. Sometimes, songs would be better if moved to someone else.
3. Music is a business, and business can be dirty.
Sometimes, the writers who end up getting their work on record might not have had the best quality music, but they instead just new what strings to pull and who to play politics with. The music industry is, after all, an industry, and office politics applies here just as much as anywhere else.
Don’t be afraid to talk around with your peers and heads at the studio. Make connections; they help in the long run.
4. Never lose your distinct style.
At the end of the day, your music should be what you love to make. Don’t think that just because you write for others you have to forget your dreams and give up everything you’ve built up around yourself.
Many successful artists find a mix of making money writing for others and pursuing their own interests that might not be as fitting for a studio. Your end goal shouldn’t be to just write for others; it should be to clear your own, unique space in the music industry.
Artists and musicians need food and pay rent just like everyone else, and sometimes just producing your own music might not satisfy your financial requirements. Thus, writing music for others or a studio is a great option. Remember these four tips, and you’ll rise to the top, without losing your personal flair.
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Sean Harris is a writer in the midwest US who plans on majoring in computer science or physics at college. He enjoys listening to music, blogging, and reading.