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"I've always liked the idea of being a member of a union. It's down to being brought up in a working class family full of miners from South Yorkshire."

Musicians' Union says Keep Music Live Musicians' Union - 60/62 Clapham Road, London SW9 0JJ Tel: 020 7582 5566. Everyone who plays an instrument knows that it can be a source of tremendous enjoyment. But if you have ambitions to make all or part of your living from any kind of music then it can become a serious business. You will need the help of the only organisation that cares about every kind of musician. The Musicians' Union was founded in 1893 and has a proud history of service to musicians of all genres, ages and abilities. The music profession and the music industry have seen constant evolution and change over the years. The Musicians' Union has evolved and changed with them, with one aim in view - to offer musicians a better service and a democratic organisation dedicated to their needs. They have specialist full time officials available to tackle the issues raised by musicians working in the recording studio, the media, or whilst writing and composing. Help them to help you. Join, get involved and make a difference right now! The Musicians' Union is the largest organisation for musicians in the UK and their services can save you more than the cost of membership. Find out what the MU stands for and what it can do for you. Essential advice regarding; contracts, managers, tax, public liability insurance, representation, working abroad. I joined the MU when I left college at the age of seventeen. I believe it is important that I should be part of a community of musicians. Whatever your musical activities there's a place for you in the MU. I am proud to be a member.

Do You Want To Teach? - NEW LEGISLATION - It is not currently a legal requirement for self-employed guitar tutors to have a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. However, there will be major changes when the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act comes into effect in October 2009. The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) has been created to help prevent unsuitable people from working with children (those under 18) and vulnerable adults. ISA works in partnership with the CRB. It will be an offence punishable by a £5,000 fine or a 6 month prison sentence not to register when required to do so, or to begin work in a "regulated" activity without being cleared by the ISA first. The scheme will be phased in over 5 years. Access more information via: www.isa-gov.org.uk

Self-employed private tutors can join the scheme but aren't required to do so. - The Musician, Extra Newsletter Summer 2010.

Regulation Update - The new government has had reviews carried out that have recommended the merging of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). Once new legislation has been passed, the ISA scheme will be scaled back, with checks needed only for those working closely and regularly with children and vulnerable adults and CRB checks will become portable between jobs. Access the rules for Scotland via: www.disclosuresscotland.co.uk Source: Registry of Guitar Tutors March 2011.

Don't give up your day job! - Today there's too much emphasis on the mediocre. You have to hone your skills and sadly, today it's not about that. Over the last twenty years we've got so much into celebrity and image. Never mind if you can't play - just get an angle, get a story. It's terrible. Most teenagers don't know about the rich history of music and they're not interested. "What? I've got to study, I've got to learn? I've got to practise, develop my technique? How long for? 10, 15, 20 years? No, no, no - I need it now." That's where we are. It's really bad. I am dismayed by young guitar students who become dazzled by the apparent "glamour" of being a muso and seem to think that they can abandon their school work to become instant professional musicians. Think again. It is generally reckoned that 75% of Musicians' Union members are part time musos who also have a regular day job. Have you any idea how difficult it is to persuade people to pay good money just to hear you play? Those that do succeed in their chosen profession often have additional relevant skills e.g. business and/or technical expertise. Be a winner. Get your home work done first and then enjoy your music. Take full advantage of all the musical opportunities your school has to offer e.g. guitar lessons and choir singing. Embrace the full and diverse broad-based education that is offered to you. Then, when you are an adult, you will be equipped, without limits, to take advantage of all employment opportunities. "Being a professional musician doesn't mean you spend 12 hours a day playing music. It means you spend up to 12 hours a day taking care of business, dealing with litigation, with the various characters who've stolen your interests, or fending off hostile lawsuits from former members of the band. I recommend my students not to be full time professional unless they really have to be. I tell them, 'If you love music, sell Hoovers or be a plumber. Do something useful with your life.'" - Robert Fripp guitarist of King Crimson in The Daily Telegraph newspaper 8 December 2005. "Starting a band these days is the same as it ever was. You start to play for fun, with ambition and dreams, live in fantasy and hope for a while. Then 99 per cent of us go back to our day jobs. I was a lucky one." - Pete Townshend of The Who in The Times newspaper. "Being in a band is a job, not a party." - Ian Anderson in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper 30 August 2009.

Interview with drummer Charlie Watts: "Tell us what it's like Charlie to be gigging for thirty years with the Rolling Stones." "Five years on stage and twenty-five years waiting around in an airport lounge!" ;)

Gear - The UK's #1 free musicians magazine containing useful tips, information and competitions to win free instruments and equipment. Available from music shops, or request your copy by e-mail: gear@jhs.co.uk or Subscriptions (free): Marlene O'Grady, Gear, Salem House, Parkinson Approach, Garforth, Leeds, LS25 2HR Telephone 0113 2865 381.

Sound Control - Free Sound Control Magazine for music gear news reviews interviews competitions. Interesting articles well illustrated with colour photographs. Request your copy by e-mail: direct@soundcontrol.co.uk or from 61 Jamaica St. Glasgow G1 4NN. Freephone 0800 525260. Web Site

The Guitar Handbook by Ralph Denyer, Publisher: Pan Books, ISBN:  0  330  32750  X   Second Edition: 1992, Price: £17. Number one reference book for guitarists of all levels for many years. The complete guide to playing the guitar - from simple chords to advanced improvisation. The Guitar Handbook is also a comprehensive manual on guitar special effects, recording and sound equipment. It examines every aspect of guitar maintenace and repair. "I bought it as a present for my husband, it's brilliant." Thank you Claire. Unfortunately this book is out of print but may still be available from local libraries.

Reverse stress by playing a musical instrument. A groundbreaking study published in the February 2005 issue of the international research journal Medical Science Monitor shows for the first time that playing a musical instrument can reverse multiple components of the human stress response on the genomic level. "In simple terms, using a unique combination of the latest genomic technologies, we showed for the very first time that we could turn off the DNA-based switches that literally turn on components of human stress response," said Muhammad A. Sharaf, Ph.D., Senior Staff Scientist at Applied Biosystems. The study's principal investigator, Barry Bittman, M.D. of the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, PA, USA, says; "These unique findings not only shed new light on the value of active music participation, but also extend our understanding of individualised human biological stress responses on an unprecedented level. One possible explanation relates to the degree of active engagement in a calming expressive activity in contrast to merely settling down to relax and read. With ongoing research, recreational music making could potentially serve as a rational stress reduction activity along with other lifestyle strategies that include healthy nutrition and exercise."

How To Transition From Your Day Job Into A Successful Music Career. Do you want to be a professional musician, but don't know where and how to start? Do you really want a successful career in music, but your fear of failure is holding you back? Are you unsure about what to do if your plan doesn't work?

Most aspiring musicians receive a lot of advice from friends and family about the best approach to take with building their music career. Among the many things suggested, is the idea of having a backup plan. Many people give advice about "the need to have something to fall back on in case the music career doesn't work out" or "a Plan B". Typically, musicians are encouraged to go to school and get a degree in something they can easily find a job in, and do music on the side, in their "free time".

If/when you reach the point where your music career begins to develop, you are probably advised to work less in your day job and focus more on the music until you can leave the day job and make the music career work for you. This advice sounds good in theory, but in reality fails to work as intended in almost every case. Why? Usually the job that most musicians get to support themselves until their music career kicks off, has nothing to do with music in general, or their music career specifically. As a result, most end up in a very frustrating situation that makes it virtually impossible to achieve any kind of lasting success as a professional musician.

4 Reasons why this kind of "backup plan" is usually doomed to fail:

Reason #1: Not having an effective exit strategy

The idea of slowly phasing out your day job while building your music career is good, but in order to work, it needs to be done in the right way. Most musicians have nothing planned or prepared that will allow them to gradually decrease the time spent at their day job and focus more on music. When choosing a "backup plan", musicians typically find a job that is the most "safe and secure" and the one that pays the most money. However, most people fail to plan the "exit strategy" and think ahead to the time when their music career situation will allow you to focus less of your time on the day job. When they finally reach that point, they realize that they are trapped in their day job and are unable to "gradually" phase it out. They are faced with the choice of either quitting the job entirely, or sticking to it until retirement (more on this shortly).

The best exit plan is to have a job that will allow you to gradually decrease the number of hours you spend on it: from 40 hours per week to 30, from 30 hours to 20, from 20 to 10, until eventually you can quit the job altogether! So you must take care to select an occupation that allows a lot of flexibility in work schedule. This way, when the time is right, you can make a "gradual" transition into a full time music career. Unfortunately, most traditional occupations (such as being an accountant, computer programmer, office manager etc...) do not allow this flexibility. Remember, your boss at work will not all of a sudden allow you to "work 3-4 days per week instead of 5", simply because you want to work on your new CD an extra few days per week. It is possible to begin by working in a non-music related job at first, BUT do not select "any" job offer without considering the exit strategy first.

An ideal job for an aspiring professional musician is teaching guitar. Not only can you make very good money doing it, but you are in complete control over how many hours you choose to work. Not everyone may desire to teach full time for the rest of their life (and this is fine). But as long as you are going to be working anyway, why not do something that is already related to what you enjoy, help students reach their goals faster and make money in the process? In addition, teaching is already a "music related" activity that is probably much more fun to do than sitting in an office!

Another possibility is to work as an independent contractor in sales or marketing or doing consulting work for hire. Always check about the flexibility of work schedule before accepting a job offer. Remember that in most industries, the 40-60 hour work week is the norm, with little or no possibility for part time employment. This makes it impossible to make a smooth transition to a full time music career.

Reason #2: There is too much risk involved

Slowly phasing out your day job seems to be a very "safe and secure" approach, but it can actually backfire and "trap" you by its sense of security. If you are making $60,000 per year at your day job, and have managed (through working nights and weekends) to build up your music related income to $25,000 per year, then, all together, you have a total income of $85,000 for the year. Here is where the reality catches up to you. Should you decide to go full time into music, you will invariably need to quit your day job completely at some point. Until you can recover and build your music career to higher and higher levels, you will be making $60,000 less per year than before! This kind of risk is uncomfortable to think about for most people (especially those who get married, have kids and/or have significant expenses), and keeps them trapped at their day jobs their whole lives.

Reason #3: You are often not able to take advantage of opportunities.

What if you put extraordinary effort on nights and weekends into recording a great sounding CD with your band, spend a lot of time promoting it in hopes of getting signed by a record company and go on tour, and then you really get the opportunity to do a 10 week tour in another country in the world. It is VERY probable that you would NOT get paid a lot of money while on a first tour, but as a whole, this kind of tour is exactly the kind of breakthrough you have been searching for. What are you going to do? Are you going to turn down a huge opportunity to advance your music career? Or are you going to agree to take a huge cut in pay by quitting your day job to do the tour? I think you can agree that neither of these options sounds entirely appealing. Wouldn't it be great to do the tour and not worry about how you are going to feed yourself (and your family) while you are gone?

Reason #4: There is not much quality time and energy to get anything done.

This may seem like a more subtle issue, but it is actually very important. If your most productive hours in the day are spent on the least productive activities, then reaching your goals will take MUCH longer than it needs to. Think about it: if you wake up at 6:00, get to work by 8:00 or 9:00 and spend 8-10 hours there, and another 1-2 hours commuting back home, by the time you are ready to begin working on your music career, you are already tired! This is also not taking into account the time taken up by other things in life that you have to tend to. It will take a truly extraordinary effort to get anything worthwhile accomplished during the time on nights and weekends, to build multiple streams of music related income that will enable you to quit your non-music related job without putting yourself and your family in financial struggle.

Now that you see why this kind of backup plan isn't as good as it seems to be, you may ask yourself what you should do instead.

What is the solution?

Well, having no backup plan is definitely NOT the solution. In order to build a successful music career, you need to be prepared and you cannot simply hope that "things will work out". The underlying problem with the conventional backup plan I described is that it originates from thinking about how not "to lose". This type of thinking lacks real ambition and it forces you to stick to that which is the most familiar and so called "safe and secure". As a result, you typically end up with what you wish for: a familiar, average, safe and secure life. However, this attitude rarely leads to significant achievements, breakthroughs and victories in the music industry.

What the most successful musicians do is arrange their backup plan or Plan B around their MUSIC CAREER GOALS (Plan A). This requires real ambition and courage, and it is based on thinking about how "to win". This also requires you to think how you can integrate Plan B with your present and future life as a professional musician.

There are many possibilities for truly effective "back up" (which are more like "support") plans. In many cases, they involve designing systems and multiple income streams coming from music business sources that will support them continuously.

It's important to put a lot of thought into which kinds of "backup plans" and approaches are best suited to your specific goals. To find the right plan for you, there are two important things you need to do:

First, study how the music business works (this is key!). Understanding it will greatly help you with designing the most effective strategy for reaching your goals in the fastest period of time. Building a successful, long term career takes a lot of focused effort and dedication. The more you understand about the music business, the easier it will be to design the kind of backup plan that will help you reach your goals instead of restricting and trapping you.

Second, be careful about taking advice from people who may have great intentions, but lack knowledge and experience about how the music industry works. Very often, our friends and family, with the very best intentions at heart, attempt to give us advice on what to do to "make it". However, if you pay attention, you will notice that this advice has a common theme, which is "here is what you must do in order not to lose". Very rarely do you get advice about how "to win"! This mentality (as described above) keeps you away from taking steps that will propel your dreams forward.

To make matters worse, although your friends and family may have the best intentions in their heart, most of the time, they simply aren't qualified to give advice about the music business. It will be similar to you asking your brother who is a plumber (for example) about how to cure a disease, or asking your uncle who is a carpenter (for example) about how to solve a legal problem. It doesn't matter that these people have your best interest at heart. If they don't know what they are talking about (in a particular subject), they are not likely to give helpful advice.

If you truly want advice that works and if you want to learn the strategies of how to reach all of your music career goals, you need to find a mentor who you can rely on for effective advice. This means learning from someone who has already done what you want to do, and ideally someone who has trained many others to do the same.

Now that you know about the problems with the conventional approaches to backup plans, I will show you the characteristics of a good backup plan (Plan B).

1. Flexibility

Your plan must be flexible. This can mean many things. One of them is having the ability to "gradually" decrease the amount of time you spend working on Plan B and increase the time you invest into Plan A! This can also mean the ability to integrate (leverage) the skills acquired (or the results earned) from Plan B into Plan A.

2. Passivity

Your plan should be mostly passive: it will really help if your Plan B mostly consists of passive income streams that you have created by only investing the work once! It should be pretty obvious to see how this will free up a lot of time to dedicate to your Plan A! (your music career)

3. Diversity

The plan should be diversified: do not become so dependent on only one stream of income! Many people argue that a music career is not secure, when nothing could be further from the truth. Which do you think is more likely, that a company lays off an employee in the blink of an eye (cutting off his one and only source of income, the paycheck), or that a music teacher with 40 students (who essentially has at least 40 "diversified" income streams) will suddenly lose all of his clients overnight?

By making your Plan B options diversified, you also build your own financial security, without depending on anyone else. I don't know about you, but I feel much safer knowing that I am in control of my own future, rather than putting my faith into someone else's idea of security.

4. Congruency and Relevance

This means that Plan B needs to make your primary goal (music career) MORE likely to occur! This also means (ideally), that the time you invest into developing skills and experience in Plan B can be easily used to enhance Plan A. For example, if you are known as an excellent guitar teacher, you can easily integrate teaching clinics and workshops with performances of your music, selling your future music CDs, other merchandise etc...etc...

I hope that you can see now how this strategy is vastly different (and superior) to the conventional wisdom of getting a day job, and then doing your best on evenings and weekends to launch a music career from scratch.

As you design your own path to a successful music career, compare the steps you are taking against the criteria above and modify your strategy if necessary. This will help save you from the frustration felt by most of the "wannabe" musicians, who realize (much too late) that their strategy leaves them no way to manifest their dreams.

Source: Tom Hess

The first note in music is dough and the last note in music is dough: doh ray me fah so lah te doh. So there is plenty of dough in music !


The spirit of the guitar.