You know how people say, “Oh if you really want to become big, you have to sacrifice everything and make it fully your life, maybe you shouldn’t go to college and/or go back if it doesn’t work out.” Ok, so I have at least heard this a lot more than I want to but it’s true that people think this way. Sure it sounds easy to drop everything and just pursue in one thing, but if you really think about it, it’s super hard to get to back on track if something goes wrong and that dream is toast.
I hated when someone told me that. It’s like they don’t understand the advantages there are by going to school. Sure, unless you are the Olsen twins and they have been stars since practically birth and can do that, however, they did attend college…or be a Taylor Swift and try to get big way before college-age. I get there are special circumstances. What I’m trying to say is that can you really bank on luck? Do you have the experience? Can you sell out a show? And I’m not talking about little cafes, I’m talking real venues, theatres, centers, etc. Are you signed to a label and under contract? If you said no to any of these, you’re going to have a really hard time without having a degree. Because if you are not doing any of these, you most likely need a job just to help you get by and pay the bills.
The disadvantages of college.
Ugh…studying, ugh..getting up early, ugh..time taken away from your shows. There’s possibly some more weak excuses out there, I’ve heard them all.
The ADVANTAGES of college.
1.) You can be almost anything you want, want to be a performer? Try theatre and drama to work on your stage presence and be comfortable in music videos, or music business and learn the ropes on what it takes to run a label, marketing biz or promotion company, or try arts administration to learn how to run a theatre yourself, or a venue, or be a A&R or be a label exec, or just major in an instrument.
2.) You meet tons of people. Being in college, I’ve met people studying directing, film making, music management, audio tech, musicians looking to be in a band, people who like your music, people who support your music, people who work in places that you can play, people who work at the college radio station to play your songs, a public place to play where someone might hear you and knows someone who works for a label, a company that might invest in you, a design company that will create posters for you. Ya, there’s a lot of people, a lot of connections, and a lot of good ways to get your music off the ground.
Real life story: I have found songwriters that I collaborated with and expanded my knowledge how to write songs and cooperate with others. My random apartment roommates were graduate students from Philly studying Informatics but have a passion for filmmaking and have awesome equipment and are willing to help make my music videos even better and get more views. I have met people who work in coffee shops and sent in a good word for me so I can play there. The list goes on…
3.) You get a degree! You take classes that may not sound too important with what’s going on with your life, like my History of Rock and Roll class, but my mind has broadened and I can relate to people who prefer that kind of music or play that music and make friends through that. Or, meet people in your class that could help you in the future. That degree is your back up, that degree is always there for you and no one can take that knowledge away from you. Need a good job to pay the bills during the week and play on the weekends? Great! Want to be full-time, start saving and start booking those shows and know how much you need to live off of.
Real life example, I was in an arts marketing class, I hated it! But it was a requirement and I knew that it would look awesome to those labels or theatre venues that I want to manage if I ever am guided to just work and not perform. Anyways, I thought what the heck one day and got up in front of class and made an announcement by introducing myself and telling my fellow students that I have been recording in Nashville, meeting labels and producers, and need their help to bring up my number of “likes” for my music page on Facebook so that the execs in Tennessee can see I am marketable, I have a large following, and I can be an asset to their company with my supporting fans. Ok, so I didn’t get everyone’s like but hey, its a marketing class and I’m still learning. BUT, and no joke true story, a guy from my class found my email on the class roster and told me how he works for LiveNation and is in charge of finding local musicians for upcoming concerts at this large venue called the Klipsch Music Center in Nobelsville, IN. He asked if I would like to open for the Lady Antebellum concert and perform as the people are coming through the gates. OF COURSE I SAID YES! But see? Marketing myself was not a total loss, I have a true experience that not many people have! Just by telling someone what you do and where you want to go can have the possibility of creating a lifetime experience for you. I would never have found that experience if I didn’t go to college.
How to keep the music going while in college.
Summer: You play as many shows as you can and make contacts for more shows during the school year or start booking for the next summer.
School Year: You write songs, demo them, record them, market yourself on social media, create a website, make youtube videos..like cover videos, write more songs, perform at your college town venues and get fans there, make contacts and friends that will help you or support you in the future.
If you still have time, go to college, or get back into it. Taking that chance can turn out to be good or have sever consequences that can change your life forever. I’ve seen many talented bands break up for the tiniest and most pathetic reasons and then you have to struggle to go back to school (which is tough), get into another band and take a chance again and let time pass even more, or just get an online degree that does not look so great on a resume. It’s not waiting to be able to perform again, it’s preparing for your future as a performer and to be successful when you get out.
Questions? Or want more info?
Go to my website at http://www.DanielleLeeMusic.com and email me for more true life facts and advice.