Notes for Young Recording ArtistsThe best way we can help is if you, your parents and a representative of the Texas Music Office have a joint telephone conversation. We're here 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. During that conversation we can work toward creating a goals or "to do" list, and we can make suggestions specific to where you are in your musical training.
It is very important for you to be as active as your class schedule
permits in your school's band, orchestral and/or choral departments. Besides learning
how to sight read music, try to learn how to play an instrument (preferably guitar,
keyboards, or any other instrument used in pop music). The more you volunteer
to assist those people at your school who teach music (staying after school, assisting
with music and/or drama productions), then the greater chance you'll have to take
full advantage of their experience and guidance.
Another way to get
experience playing music is by becoming active in the music at your local community
center and/or church. For example, in Austin, there are 30 nonprofit, volunteer-driven
musical ensembles who are always looking for volunteers. You can gain valuable
experience there, as well as the chance to interact with professional and semi-professional
Perform as much as you can. However, singing along with a popular recording is not a good idea because you will tend to imitate their style of singing rather than find your own voice and style. It's better to form your own band and learn how to sing and perform in a group setting. With a group it is much easier to get gigs and easier to write your own songs. Singing songs for other people is more fun and more impressive when they are yours. When you have six or more songs of your own that you think are good enough for the public to hear, arrange to perform first for friends and family. Get their feedback.
Getting comfortable performing for an audience can take awhile. If you start with familiar faces, it will build confidence and make it easier when you begin playing for strangers.
So where else can you play? Until you are old enough
to play at nightclubs, gigging may take some creativity. Go to local
music events (ex. concerts, music festivals, county fairs -- places with live
music) as much as possible. This will give you a better idea of what to do (and
what not to do) in a live performance. Pay attention to the band and the audience.
See what works and what doesn't. Try to see if there are opportunities for you
to perform at these events. Each time you perform, make sure there's someone at
the door taking down names and addresses of those people who want to be on your
mailing list. That way you can send announcements of future gigs to people who
are already interested in your music.
When you are ready to put your
songs on tape or CD, consider using a 4-track recorder. You can purchase one through
local instrument stores or rent one at a rehearsal studio. Some advantages to
alternative recording methods are: a) You can tape your rehearsals or rehearse
on your own without the rest of the band present. b) You can practice certain
guitar chords, figure out arrangements, or play with harmonies. c) You can hear
how you and your group really sound instead of how you think you sound. d) For
unsigned talent, it costs less than studio time and can still help you obtain
A question almost everyone asks is "How do I get a manager or a booking agent?"
To get a manager you will need an impressive mailing list and a lot of fans. You also have to be making money by performing because an agent will take 15-20 percent of what you make as an artist. Ideally, you want an agent to have heard about you from the buzz generated by your shows, announcements sent through your mailing list, and press from local newspapers. After awhile, your hard work will start to show results. Once that buzz is big enough, agents will come to you.
There are several educational resources availble on line and in print:
Getting Started in the Music Business provides a short-answer reference to the basic legal and business practices associated with the music industry.
Grammy in the Schools profiles several people in the music industry who "have followed their hearts and seen their musical dreams come true".
You may want to consult our list of Music Industry Books.
The Texas Music Education Primer describes the music and music business education programs offered by 135 Texas colleges and universities.
Monahan, Texas Music Office (512) 463-6666 email@example.com