Meghan Corregan asks:
What are some words of encouragement you can give to graduating recording arts majors who are being thrust into the horrible job market?
Every year thousands of students graduate from the comfort and security of college life into the ruthless competition for survival in the real world. Many of these newly minted alumni are well schooled in the creative and business protocols of the recording industry. Armed with Macs, mics and creative juices over flowing, fledgling artists, producers and entrepreneurs dive head first into the business. The first terrible thing they all learn is that the water is running out of the pool.
The postmodern record industry has been enduring a long slow deflation for the past decade. From the moment the big four record giants decided to bury Napster, and sue their customer base, their doom was sealed. Record executives, protecting their inflated salaries and in support of their stock options, are scrambling through the chaos pretending they have a future.
Forced by minuscule sales the labels have cut staff, trimmed rosters, imposed 360 degree deals and released less product in a desperate struggle to survive. The recession only compounds the fracture. The unemployed professionals and the graduating class meet head-on in an open competition for the same opportunities. This, in a market place where there are very few jobs.
The novice record producer cannot afford to wait for the system to reinvent itself. He must be proactive in the core activity of his profession, making records. He needs to be more than a studio geek. He should have an eye for talent, an ear for music, and a nose for business. He must dive into the universal talent pool and choose an artist he believes in and produce it. If a producer can add personal manager to his skill set he will improve his odds of being successful.
Showbiz is about talent. It is hard to define the ingredients and elements of talent, but we know it when we see it. Sometimes, we think we see it when its not really there. Find an act you believe in and turn the recorded music and live performing into a business. That makes the producer an entrepreneur instead of a statistic of the unemployed. If you are good enough to make a profit in the music business, you will be able to give up your day job.