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5 Surefire Ways To Make It In The Music Industry
Today, in the lead-up to the 61st GRAMMY Awards, a few hundred students from across Los Angeles County visited the GRAMMY Museum in downtown L.A., where they received some insightful pointers on how to find success in the music industry. The Music Industry Panel at the Clive Davis Theatre, part of the museum's special GRAMMY Week programing, gave the young music lovers practical advice and inspirational stories on how to turn their passions and their dreams into reality, from four people in the trenches of the industry.
The panel featured a variety of perspectives from inside the music industry, including Rozzi, a 27-year-old singer/songwriter who got signed by Adam Levine when she was 19, and Brittany Bell, a publicity manager at Atlantic Records who has successfully navigated the music PR world. The other two panelists were Cathy Heller, a singer/songwriter who found her stride in music licensing, which she does with her company Catch The Moon Music, and Miles Mosley, an upright bass player and music producer who went from playing at GRAMMY Camp as a young teen to playing on the GRAMMY stage with Cee Lo Green.
All four speakers discussed their journeys regarding how they got to where they are today, and, with questions from a moderator and a few students in the audience, offered some great takeaways for any young person interested in pursuing a career in music.
Read on to learn the five key points from Rozzi, Bell, Heller and Mosely on what it takes to be a successful music professional.
1. Figure out who you are before others try to decide for you.
There were plenty of quotable moments as the group shared some real-world learning moments as music professionals. Rozzi, for instance, discovered her passion for music at a young age; she knew she wanted to be a singer since she was just six years old. She described how being focused always pushed her to put in the hard work she saw as necessary to achieve her dreams.
Later, she shared how amazing it was to have Maroon 5's Levine reach out and sign her while she was in college. But it wasn't until she was ultimately dropped from his label (she was one of the first artists signed to it) that she finally began to experience things that she felt gave her something to sing about.
"I was really good at working hard…but I didn't know what I needed to say," Rozzi explained. "I was so focused on getting from point A to point B that I didn't really live."
2. "Sometimes rejection is redirection."
Heller explained how music has also been her passion from a young age; she used it as a way to escape from the difficult home environment she faced growing up. When she asked the students if they also found their happy place with music, most of their hands shot up.
The singer/songwriter eventually moved to L.A. after high school in hopes of making it in the industry, but it wasn't until she got signed to—and subsequently dropped from—two different labels before she really found her calling. When Heller refocused her energy on music liscensing, she began making music tailored for film, TV and ads. Now, her company helps other artists do the same.
"If you're kicking down the door really hard and it doesn't open, maybe you're at the wrong door. Sometimes rejection is redirection," Heller said.
3. If you want to pay the bills, you have to diversify your offerings… and understand finance.
Mosley discovered his love for playing the upright bass in junior high orchestra class, for which he originally signed up in hopes of achieving "an easy A." But fate stepped in, and Mosley wound up playing the instrument ever since.
Having attended one of the high schools selected to play in GRAMMY Camp's national band, Mosley wound up playing on the GRAMMY stage in 2007, as the backing band for Cee Lo Green—then one half of Gnarls Barkley—at the 49th GRAMMY Awards.
When it comes to making a living as a musician, he explained how important it is to learn to diversify your personal business and offerings as an artist.
"I realized I could be much more comfortable in the music industry if I have these different plateaus to stand on," Mosley said. "You have to learn about finance. It's boring, but you gotta learn how to make a little bit of money go a long way."
4. Patience and perseverance are key.
Bell described her career trajectory through different iterations of marketing and public relations before she found her sweet spot working in music PR. She explained the different ways she had to work her way up and make connections and keep exploring where her talents are best served. She also underscored the importance of the lessons you can learn as an intern or assistant. Her big takeaway as an intern, in particular, was to learn patience.
She stressed that while you may have what feel like clear goals in mind, you never know exactly where you'll end up.
"You gotta shake of the 'no's' and just keep going," Bell affirmed.
5. You don't need someone to discover you.
For aspiring artists, Heller had more words of wisdom as she offered her take on the current digital music climate. Thanks to the internet and music-streaming sites, she said, you no longer need someone to discover you to make it big. Similar to Rozzi's message of finding your voice, Heller stressed the importance of putting in the work to "discover the vast incredibleness that is you."
She also talked about how important it is to believe in yourself and your success. She explained that if you don't believe in your vision, it will be very easy to give up when things don't go as planned or take longer than you envisioned. While it may be easier to get your music heard, she posited, it isn't necessarily harder to stand out among the masses. You just have to stick it out and do the work to truly find your voice.
Are you a high school student interested in learning more about making it in music? Consider joining GRAMMY Camp: Applications for the 2019 summer session in L.A. are currently open until March 31. For more information, click here.