September 5, 2016

Music Monday // Fact or Fiction: Music Industry Edition

I don't know if anyone out there who ends up reading this is also interested in a career in music, but if you are such a person, hey, I'm Alexa! Some day I'll be a tour manager, but in the immediate future, I see myself doing promo and booking for a venue. I talk more about the whys of that here, but today's post is all about the misconceptions people have— and I definitely had— about working in the music industry. Obviously, I'm no master of the business because I'm still in school, and I've only had one music-related internship as of this writing, but there are things that I've come to find out are true and things that I've realized are not so true.

+ It's all about who you know.
Fact. Do you absolutely need connections if you ever hope to get a job? No. But do they help? Very much so. I've already starting building my network of music professors, music program directors, former music publishers, etc. because I can use all the help I can get in such a competitive industry. A lot of careers lead into other careers. You're a tour manager who gets recommended to a band by a different band's guitarist. You interned for a label while you were in college, and now they want to sign you as an artist. You sold merch at a venue, so now you're their lights person. You get the idea.

+ You need to be a musician to work in the music industry.
Fiction. This might be the biggest misconception that people have, and the biggest one I had by far, but everyone I've spoken to about it— professors with background in everything from songwriting to music publishing to artist management to concert production to classical performance— have said that you don't have to be a musician to work in the music industry. Being more "objective" by not being a musician lends a fresh perspective to whatever you're doing, whether that be an unbiased take on the new song that the band you manage wrote or having a good understanding of the PR side of things. Being a musician definitely does not hurt you, though.

+ It's all glamour, drugs, and alcohol when you're on tour.
Fiction. Ok, yeah, from what I know there is a lot of drinking, and some blunts are passed around, but there's plenty of hard work put into touring, too. What you don't see in the movies is all the sound-checking, all the hours of driving, all the unloading and reloading of equipment. Chances are you're living on a tour bus for months at a time with limited access to laundry, and everyone else's sh*t is all over the place. Yeah, touring's probably fun— you're traveling around the country with people who might be or who will become your best friends, meeting tons of new people, listening to a bunch of music— but it's no easy, or by any means completely picturesque, experience. 

+ If you're a woman, you may not be treated with respect. 
Fact. Sexism seems to be the disgusting reality in this business. Should that stop you if you're a woman pursuing a music career? Absolutely not. Should you fight the misogyny if you're a woman? Absolutely. The music business is largely associated with record label tycoons and big-name executives, and what comes to mind is usually a middle-aged white man in a suit. There are female music executives, and in 2016, this should not come as such a shock. I read an article not that long ago that collected a number of tweets from women who work in music, and it honestly infuriated me. A woman hovering around the stage entrance was presumed by the band to be a groupie or a sister or something; she worked for the venue and was insulted to her face in front of her coworkers. A woman was asked to leave backstage "because girlfriends weren't allowed;" she was part of the band. I'd like to think the misogynistic tendencies are restricted to a few quality individuals because women are just as capable, respectable— and should be universally acknowledged as such— and "cut out" to work in this business. No one is going to dictate what I'm going to do with my life based on ridiculous, unfounded biases about my gender. 

If you read this, I'd love to know your thoughts! Leave me a comment or tweet me @icingplaylist.

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