The 8 People Every Musician Must Know

take care of your ride and it will take care of you

If you stopped onto this site in mid-December, Grassrootsy reference an article by successful musician Danny Barnes: How To Make a Living Playing Music. Great article that I recommend everyone read from top to bottom. Barnes talks about everything you’ll ever want to know about pursuing music as a career.  I’m sure I’ll be referencing this article indefinitely.  Here are today’s thoughts (this post is so long).

Barnes suggests that we all need 8 people in our life to make it as a successful musician.  Here they are, and here are my thoughts on why you’ll need them. Feel free to offer your two cents as well. And you’re also welcome to suggest other people for this list.

1. Lawyer
If you’re in this for the long haul, a lawyer will surely come in handy sooner or later. You’ll need someone to help you figure out royalties and contracts when working with organization and companies that might take advantage of you (among many other things).  There’s probably a program in your city that offers pro-bono help to artists as long as you’re within a specific income bracket.

2. Bookkeeper
Maybe you’re your own bookkeeper. That’s fine. You need to meticulously keep records of every music-related thing you do – everything from mileage, food purchases when “on the job”,  music equipment purchases, poster photocopies…etc. Keep receipts. If you can’t keep track of this, find someone who can. This is a must b/c you can claim it all on your taxes.  I’ve been claiming these (and a boatload of other things) on my taxes for the past 2 years and it really pays off. More info:  “The Things You’ll Hate To Do…

3. CPA
This has much to do with your bookkeeping. Have a good accountant who will help you find ways to get money back instead of paying out. Ultimately you’ll probably have to cut some kind of check to the government b/c taxes most likely have not been taken out of any payments you’ve received from gigs.  Here’s a tip: take out 10%  of your income each month (for starters) and put it in a different bank account. Consider that your tax money.

4. Doctor
In other words…have health insurance.
It’s important. But it’s also expensive and one of the reasons alot of people don’t have it (myself included). Hmmm gotta work on that 🙂 

5. Mechanic
Other than my keyboard, my car is probably the most important material possession I have, as it relates to my career. Oil changes and maintenance checks are at the top of my list.  If you’re a traveling musician, take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you. You can’t afford to not have it.

6. Instrument repair person
In other words…get some type of insurance on your instrument(s).  If it is expensive…if it is your bread and butter, make sure you have a way to replace it or fix it in an emergency without spending an arm and a leg.

7. Web person
Very important. Read any blog on this site and you’ll know how important maintaining a website and taking advantage of all the social networks are. Check out “An Interview with Allison Weiss for starters.

8. Someone Who Will Always Tell You the Truth
We all need occasional 3rd party wisdom. Maybe it’s that friend who honestly tells you that your voice sucks. Or maybe it’s your wife who says you don’t need to spend $300 on a new amp.  Don’t trust people who only tell you what you want to hear.

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4 Comments on “The 8 People Every Musician Must Know”

  1. Maree Gallagher Says:

    I especially agree with #8. I call this my “no bullshit zone” that I establish in working with clients.I always can be depended on to tell clients the truth and I expect the truth in return. Sadly, this can result in unhappy clients, as not everyone is willing to hear the truth. There will always be people willing to take your money and tell you whatever you want to hear, but finding someone you can trust who truly has your best interest at heart is essential.

  2. Bill Says:

    Wow – basic life info that anyone who ever did business above the level of street-corner lemonade stand should already know. But, amazingly, most of the “professional” musicians I know don’t have a clue. Many of ’em are amazingly talented individuals, but just don’t seem to even want to try to pick up on that adult responsibility thing. I’m not the least bit impressed by someone who has released a half-dozen CDs – each of which sold maybe 500 copies – with marginally decent songs, but can’t keep oil in the crankcase of their car.

    I guess my biggest gripe harkens back to the last article’s overtone of not expecting to make much money. That’s just wrong. If you do something well and pay attention to all the necessary details, you should rightly expect to be well-compensated. If it doesn’t happen, then you have a hobby, not a career.

  3. grassrootsy Says:

    i whole-heartedly agree. I don’t think you should expect to make much money immediately. But anything you do with consistency, real talent, and real discipline should eventually make for a good living.

  4. pinkle Says:

    you might also consider to bring on board:

    1. an autistic philanthropist who falls infinitely in love with your music
    2. psychiatrist to help keep it together (inside)
    3. archeologist for finding those lost musical ideas that disappear when you wake up.
    4. electrician for untangling XLR cables
    5. a politician for helping make friends with everybody and getting out the vote
    6. somebody real high up in Google because they do a lot of neat stuff that might help you with something
    7. peanut m&ms for extra performance power

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