Business of Music: A Cold War
Many musicians tend to be highly talented and this is why they choose music as a profession. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even be able to focus, be persistent, practice and perform through a sonata or concerto.
What sets apart Vladimir Horowitz and Jascha Heifetz archetypes from the rest of the musicians is hardly their unique talent. I have met many Gypsy violinists who would make Heifetz look like a kindergarten child. The same way, I have met many pianists who have been far more virtuosic than Horowitz could ever be, especially when playing Mozart without missing notes.
The qualities that makes Heifetz and Horowitz archetypes to stand out and succeed are: they are business savvy, don’t sit around and wait for their talents to be discovered, know how to promote themselves, and are well versed in the strategic game of playing politics within the context of the music industry and show business.
It is essential to realize, that similar to that of any business or trade, 90% of being a professional musician hardly has anything to do with being a musician.
Almost 90% of being a professional musician consists of learning the business laws, entertainment laws, administrative procedure, financial structure, knowing how to play the politics in the music industry, developing negotiation skills in order to protect one’s rights and backend earnings, and which collective bargaining group to join in order to protect one’s creative rights and flow of income.
Even when negotiating and signing up with an artist manager, one ought to have such knowledge and skills to command the respect of the high ranking artist managers, investors, producers and patrons.
When musician has such knowledge and skills, then he is lucky enough to spend 10% of the remaining time to do what he wants to do as an artist such as playing music, composing music, conducting orchestras and ensembles. Of course, such realities only make sense for those who consider themselves as professional artists who get paid for their artistic services and creative products.
There is a common saying that business is a Cold War. It is important to know that the entertainment and music industries, are possibly two of the most abusive and toughest businesses to be in. Therefore, one ought to be thick skinned, centred and act logically and systematically void of emotions, in order to make it in the music industry.
This means that a musician is hardly only a musician but almost a violin warrior, piano warrior, guitar warrior and a baton warrior, figuratively speaking.
This is also why most musicians tend to be ideal candidates to work in the political industry, since they could easily do the transition and adapt, and bring their earned transferable skills with them to the political industry. Because working in the political industry is much easier than being a professional musician.
© Copyright 2016 Joseph L. A.
* Dedicated to the composers and musicians from that of Iranian heritage who live in the Western countries.