• How Do I Get Started In The Music Business?

    This article will give you experiences from people in the music industry on how they got started, and tips for how you too can get into the music business.

    Tommy Mottola - Chairman & CEO of Sony Music Entertainment
    "We are desperate to find new talent out there to take into our companies who can give us new ideas, people who are as obsessed as we are to become successful and to take the records that we have and make them successful.

    We're always looking for new people, and we're not look for necessarily the people who have done it before. I know in my case, and I'm sure Doug as well, we're always looking for that new person who can give us a new angle, or a new method of inspiration or a way that we can get something accomplished."

    Elton John - Recording Artist
    "The first time I got paid for making music was when I was still at school, and to sort of raise money to buy an electric piano, an amplifier and a microphone I played a pub in England, near where I lived. I played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

    I got paid 1 a night and then I had a box which my step father took round after I finished performing and people used to put money in that. I earned quite a lot of money, in fact a lot of money. I was very quickly able to buy my equipment that I needed.

    But I had to play all sorts of songs. I had to do English cockney songs, I had to sing Jim Reeves songs, anything that people wanted. I have an eclectic taste in music anyway so it gave me a big knowledgeable background of all sorts of musics."

    Bernie Taupin Songwriter
    "When I met Elton we had both answered the same ad in a paper called the "New Musical Express" which at the time was sort of England's leading musical publication, and it was for a record company called Liberty Records. Which at the time was sort of an independent label - one of the first independent labels - and it had broken free of the EMI.

    What they were basically trying to do was put together an entire roster of artists, producers, songwriters, anybody to basically put a label together.

    We started doing demos in this little studio free of charge, nobody was charging us to do them.

    We were sneaking in there under the cover of darkness and making these demos, and what happened was the office nazi found out about it and reported it to Dick James, and we were lead in there by the scruff of our collars.

    But luckily Dick got to hear what we were doing and promptly signed us to a "shackles for life" contract, and that's where it all started."

    Sheryl Crow - Recording Artist, Songwriter, and Producer
    "I'm sure that many kids who have parents like I do that are concerned about what you're going to do when you don't make it as a musician will tell you that you need to get something to fall back on, and that's why I ended up getting my Music Education degree.

    But I loved being a music teacher and I think the thing I learned about being a music teacher is the depth and breadth of the power of music.

    I think I learned that mostly by teaching kids who are autistic and non communication, kids who were severely handicapped and motionally disordered kids, and watching how music can kind of assist and move molecules, get in there and move molecules is a really powerful thing."

    Glen Ballard Producer
    "I think the first time I got paid was when I was in a band in fifth grade and we were playing a junior high school dance, and we got paid $100.

    It was quite extraordinary.

    I thought "this is for me"; a hundred bucks, girls like this stuff, Im playing music, Im playing songs that I've written, the parents hate me. This is great; this is the essence of rock and roll."

    Sting - Recording Artist
    "The first time I got paid for it, I was probably 15 and I played in a band in a working mans club, and I bagged a stripper, she was gorgeous."

    Sir George Martin - Producer (The Beatles)
    "I started playing in cafe's and small orchestra's.

    I played the ebo, and wrote music in my spare time.

    I took a job with the BBC to being with the music department in their library, and they poorly paid.

    Out of the blue I had an offer to go to a place called Abbey Road Studios EMI.

    I didn't know what it was, and I was offered a job that was 1 a week more there, so I took it.

    I didn't realize what I was in for, and I got hooked because I became a record producer.

    My first job was to produce classical records the part of our label.

    The London Baroque Ensemble was my first group. Not four young men but about fifteen of them and we made a lot of Baroque records. It was marvelous to work with great musicians, people like Dennis Brain who was a great horn player, one of our people.

    Five years after I started doing this, amazingly, I was given the job of Head of Label because gradually I'd taken over all other aspects of the record label; jazz, light orchestral music, Scottish country dance music even, and I had the labels responsibility."

    Enrique Iglesias - Recording Artist
    "The first song I ever wrote was in English actually, my second one was in Spanish, it was called "Only One Night", it was really cheesy.

    I wouldn't want to sing it but I still have it on tape that I did a demo of it because it was my first demo record when I was seventeen. It was one song in Spanish, one in English. The one in Spanish was called "Si T Te Vas" and the one in English was called "Only One Night"."

    Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) - Recording Artist
    "The first time I ever made music was picking up my mother's acoustic guitar and taking one finger and just running it back and forth to the notes that I thought went together. Copying like Elvis songs, things like that and then in 1982 I was a break dancer.

    I loved hip hop and begged my parents for two turntables and a mixer. The next Christmas I got a radioshack mixer and two radioshack turntables, and I started mixing records and rapping."

    Lyor Cohen - President of Island Def Jam
    "I didn't know anything about the music business, I just knew that a bunch of my friends were having more fun than myself. I was a financial analyst for a bank in Beverly Hills, and they were throwing parties. So I decided to throw the biggest party in Hollywood.

    I'd put together a bunch of very hardcore rock and roll punk groups together and I'd found another group that I wanted to throw in the mix because I do like to throw people off.

    I put together a show of Fear, Social Distortion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Circle Jerks, Fishbone, also starring Run DMC.

    I borrowed $700 from my mom and I told her that this show was really important because the headliners where people who spoke instead of sung.

    I made $36,000 that night and I levelled the Stardust Ballroom.

    Instead of being a boring financial analyst, I was a sexy club promoter."

    Jimmy Iovine - Chairman of Interscope, Geffan, and A&M Records
    "In the movie business you have to have a script, you have to get into somebody's office, you have to have an agent.

    In this business we hear a tape from anybody, we hear a tape from an intern, we hear a tape from a guy walking by in the street just drops it off.

    So it's a very good business to break into.

    I recommend you work in a club after school, work in a studio, you can try your own little record company - try it on the internet.

    There are a million things you can do and if you've got some talent you'll get spotted.

    You will not get lost in this business, I believe."

    Tommy Mottola - Chairman & CEO of Sony Music Entertainment
    "I remember when we were looking for our first jobs, I mean in my case I must've called the first guy that I got a job from a hundred times, and I told him that I'd take it for nothing."

    Russell Simmons - Chairman & CEO of Rush Communications
    "My first job in music was I promoted shows of hip hop artists; Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Dj Hollywood, some of the original rappers.

    Then there came a time when they wanted to make records, and I was their manager, some those people's managers, and producer a record called "Christmas Rapping".

    That record came out independently and was picked up by Mercury Records."

    Monte Lipman - President of Universal Records
    "My first formal job would be that of at Arista Records. I was an intern but I was actually paid with records believe it or not. They would give me a certain amount of what we refer to as clean records of commercial copies and it was up to myself to actually go out and liquidate them somehow, some way.

    That's actually how I was paid initially but fortunately things worked out and eventually they made me Marketing Manager for New York City, and basically went from there."

    Jimmy Iovine - Chairman of Interscope, Geffan, and A&M Records
    "I knew a woman called Emily, she got me my first job. She was a great songwriter from the sixties, and she got me a job in A&R Recording Studio, which is Phil Ramone's recording studio. I got a job there as a Training Assistant Engineer.

    That job at the time paid $70 a week for about 70 hours, kind of but it was a full time job.

    You have a job, it was after school and I just learned, watched, coiled wires, set up microphones with another assistant until I was able to go onto being an assistant on my own."

    Sharon Osbourne - Manager and Impresario
    "You just have to start at the bottom like I did; answering the phone, in the mail room, being a runner in the office, and you just have to be around it and just learn. All those jobs I know are for younger people, and I think that's the way to start as a kid and gain all the experience from all different aspects of the business.

    Because to be a manager you have to know about touring, you have to know a little bit of the legal world, marketing, promotion, so you have to be well rounded.

    You start small and just keep your mouth shut, and you listen."

    Kevin Black - Urban Radio Promoter at Interscope
    "How I got into it is I started with Run DMC, my cousin was a road manager for them. I went as a luggage boy, now a luggage boy the secretary could fire you, the janitor could fire you, your job is to just carry luggage.

    But when I was out there I got intrigued by the business because I started seeing the energy around it and I was out there with Leo Cole and Russell Simmons.

    I saw that there was a lot of energy I said "this is where I want to be". I've gotta get a piece of it, I don't care what I gotta do, I'll intern, I'll do whatever I got to but this is what I got to do.

    So what I started doing was building blocks and then one day I got chosen. When I got chosen I just started delivering."

    Jimmy Iovine - Chairman of Interscope, Geffan, and A&M Records
    "Working in the record business is what I always believed as much on your own as possible.

    Get a job in a recording studio, get a job in a record store, start your own label.

    I just thought your own label was fantastic, you find a few bands, equipment to record with is nothing today, and it's so easy.

    And or someone you know has it, start hustling tapes, where you sell them at, local distribution. Find a local distributor to see if you've got something good."

    Sharon Osbourne - Manager and Impresario
    "To start in the industry as a manager, if you want to be a manager would be to get involved with the street team and learn about all the releases and that way you'll learn about how that artist has started from the street as a little baby band and then you see them building. To be involved on that level is a good education for somebody that wants to start small."

    Michelle Thomas - Product Manager at Interscope
    "College kids can absolutely be involved in the ground street levels. Within Interscope and even within Universal there are programs that college kids act as our street, we call them Street Marketing Reps.

    They will work within their college campuses to promote the music; hand out postcards, put ads in college magazines, do contests on campus to hand out CD's or cassette samplers."

    Jimmy Iovine - Chairman of Interscope, Geffan, and A&M Records
    "There isn't a company in the world that will not take you five hours a day for free.

    That is your key; you are willing to work for free.

    I worked for free, my father was a lone sherman, we didn't have any money, I went and got a job for free after my other job.

    It works.

    There are very few people that can walk in, if you walk in and say "I will work for free, for five hours a day", nobody's going to say no.

    If you shine, they will pick you."

    Lori Earl - Publcity at Interscope
    "Interns are pretty crucial in this business.

    I think that a lot of successful people have one or two, and many in their life.

    I think that a lot of people in the music industry are willing to do that for people because I can't imagine anybody who is starting out being the head of anything, and everybody either started as an assistant or an intern, or a PA.

    You have to start somewhere and you need to find somebody out there who's willing to guide you.

    A lot of times I'm always willing to help somebody if they are an interest, if they show the passion, and if they aren't lazy and they're willing to be resourceful.

    Those are really important qualities."

    That concludes this article on how to make it in the music industry.

    You will get help on how to get started in the music industry by posting a thread in the Music Chat & Help forum, and by asking other musicians who post their music in the Talent forums.

    The article above is merely a rough transcript from the video embeded at the top of the article. The video has been found freely available online, unless otherwise stated.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. DaringWayfarer's Avatar
      DaringWayfarer -
      Nice post.
      # Mashup DJ
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