Ahh, a day in the life of a musician. Sleep until noon, drink 10 cups of coffee. Switch to whiskey around 4pm. Shower infrequently. Forget email exists. Rely on someone else to make shit happen for you. Isn’t it nice?
Unfortunately, unless your name is KEITH F-CKING RICHARDS, that sort of day isn’t happening (and probably isn’t for him either because he’s still alive somehow).
One of the first pieces of advice Ron gives to musicians just starting out is this: make it your job even when it isn’t your job. You know that old adage “dress for the job you want, not the one you have” -- it’s sort of like that.
Even if you have a manager, you always need to stay on top of what’s going on with your career. If you’re just starting out, your manager will have a very limited reach in terms of what they can do for you -- you need to help them out and play your part. If you don’t have a manager, you need to self-manage and work on making it worthwhile for someone to manage you. We’ll talk about scheduling your day in a future post, but the overall concept is that if you’re sitting around waiting for stuff to just fall into place, it probably never will. Don’t be afraid of email. Email is your friend. It’s time to quit thinking that getting a manager is the end goal and that everything after that will just sort of magically happen. It won’t.
This is a hard one for newbies (and sometimes vets) to grasp. It’s TOUGH. For a long time you’re probably going to feel like you’re working three jobs. You’ll have your job that pays the bills, then your budding music career in the works (which will take hours of focus each day), and you’ll either be gigging or going to gigs whenever you can. This is not for the faint of heart, but it’s the only way to turn this thing into the only thing.
For all of the managers (or want-to-be-managers out there) - this applies to you too! Speaking from my own experience (hey, Blair here), I didn’t start managing Ron full time until I’d been working with him for 2 years as a “side project” (ha). I had a full-time corporate job in advertising and then I’d come home and send emails, create his brand, work on pitches, and go meet people at shows until I’d crash sometime around 1:00AM… and then get up for work again at 7:00AM the next day. Finally, one day it make financial sense to take the plunge and go at it full time.
Bottom line - this is YOUR career. Until you’ve built up a strong team that you can trust, you absolutely have to treat this like it’s the only thing that matters.
Finally - here are some helpful tips for treating this like your job:
Wake up at a reasonable hour even if your day job doesn’t call for it. Labels, managers, and agents, all try to keep normal business hours and that’s the only acceptable time to email them if you’re looking to partner up. If you have to work during the day there are some nifty email schedulers out there that will send then during appropriate hours (my go-to is Boomerang).
Carve out at least 2 hours each day to research people in the industry, other musician’s brands, and listen to new music (“research” essentially means to spend time on the internet looking at stuff you already love!)
Check your damn email daily
Respond to your damn email daily
REASON TO IGNORE THIS ADVICE: You are Keith Richards. (Hey, even Beyonce runs shit in her career)