While attending the fresh inc festival, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with the talented participants, the members of Fifth House Ensemble, and the festival composition faculty – Stacy Garrop and Dan Visconti. But something that has made this festival so innovative and unique is the attention paid to addressing both entrepreneurship and successfully sustaining music as a career.
It is so rare that a music professor or studio teacher wants to talk about how they “made it” or how music even works as an occupation in today’s world. Whether it is a desire to maintain the illusion that “hard practice alone will generate a career,” fear, or something else is anyone’s guess. At fresh inc however, we’ve been talking about how music as a profession needs to be approached like a business – something that is typically not taught in the standard music curriculum. From workshops to activities, we have been challenged to figure out how to operate a business and create financial security for ourselves as musicians while still doing what we love. This doesn’t seem like it should be a revolutionary concept, but some how … it is!
So I pose this challenge to musicians in their early careers – especially students: if schools don’t offer training in making a business out of and making a living off of music, start to learn about it on your own. Find out what the different types of for-profit organizations are and how they are different from a non-profit organization. Find out what professional expenses are tax-deductible. Find out how to make what you’ve studied so hard – what you love – into something that also pays the bills. We just need to start learning before leaving the safety of school because music as a career is entirely possible, I assure you!