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Career Advice Friday - Take Your Time

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Success in the music industry is not something that happens overnight. And, like with any career, some carefully constructed guidance can sometimes go a long way.

I'm not here to give you a full-proof way to become the next Metallica or Iron Maiden or Avenged Sevenfold.

What I'm here to do is put you on the right road. To give you the right tools to take your music and get the most out of it at little-to-no cost to you.

Every Friday, I'll be posting some new tidbit of advice for how to maybe make things go a little bit more smoothly for you and your fellow bandmates.

This week I'm going to talk about something that nobody likes to do - taking your time.

As musicians, we always want that instant gratification. We want to get the band together, records an album, and get gigs and get paid all in the same week. We want the photoshoot and the magazine articles. We want the tour that encompasses the entirety of the globe. We want the success and we want it now.

Not gonna happen. Not now, not ever. Success in any industry is something that happens over a long period of time. It's something that has to be earned and deserved, not created and produced.

In 1987, the film La Bamba was released. It told the story of famed singer/songwriter Ritchie Valens. At one point in the film, we see a scene where he is recording a song. During the scene, we see Valens sing the same song over and over and over and over again, sometimes just the same line. His brother then remarks that none of the different takes sounded any different from the last and that it was a waste of time. The producer then coyly remarks that each take was, in fact, uniquely different and made all the difference in the world.

The producer is, in fact, the correct party in this debate. Musicians tend to forget that producers are trained professionals - they hear the things that nobody else can hear. Think in less-extreme terms of the superhero Daredevil - blinded in a chemical spill, his other senses are so highly tuned that he can hear sound on such a level that he can actually see it, similar to sonar. That's how producers work - every minute detail and fluctuation in a piece of audio stands out to them like a sore thumb.

So if you and your band decide to record a 5-Track EP and do the whole thing from beginning to end in the span of a single weekend, I promise you that you are only hurting yourself. In the average recording studio, a 5-Track EP would not be recorded in two days time. In fact, you'd be lucky to finish recording a single song in two days. Professional musicians spend weeks recording just one song. So imagine how long an entire album must take to complete.

The average is around six months.

The recording process is only the tip of the iceberg. In a day and age where there are more bands/musicians than there are blades of grass, gigs are hard to come by (especially in the southeastern US where the music scene is slowly dying). You'll be lucky to get a 30 minute set at some dive bar let alone a paid headlining show at the Township Auditorium or The New Brookland Tavern. The trick is to never ever stop. The moment you stop is the moment all chances of success go out the window. There will be gigs with a packed house and a nice payout. There will be gigs that were poorly planned and promoted where the only audience members are your family and the other bands at the gig (at least the ones that haven't played yet...odds are the bands that preceded you have already packed up and gone home). It doesn't matter the circumstances - if you have a gig, play it. Play it with everything you've got. It's how you build a reputation. There may be nobody on the floor watching, but the venue owner is there and he's making a note that you guys don't back down from a rough night, and he knows he can rely on you to hold up your end of the bargain. Hell, he might even feel bad enough for you that you get another gig on the spot or even some pity pay. Scoff all you want, but money is money. It's a steep, slow climb up the ladder, and you've got to take every uncomfortable step.

The road to the top is a bumpy one. It's filled with slopes and obstacles and hardships. But it's something worth enduring. A career in music is unlike anything else in the world and the scars you develop along the way will show everyone just how much you're able to take in life. Wear those scars as a point of pride.

Take your time. Patience is a virtue.

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