Yes, you have to play well. Really well, especially if you want to have a career as a performer. There’s no disputing that. However, just because you play well doesn’t mean that you are going to be heard let alone discovered. Becoming a professional musician takes a lot more than musical skill.
Some musicians think that they just have to set up a social media page and post a couple videos, sit back, and simply wait to be discovered. There is nothing further from the truth.
A good idea seldom sells itself unless it clearly addresses a need. Similarly, a good performer seldom sells themselves. A professional musician understands that they are not just a musician but also a business and as such, must set up their business to address a need that their music or music service addresses.
There are many awesome benefits to winning a competition (e.g., you learn how to perform under pressure, deal with nerves, and handle being in the spotlight; it can increase your exposure and build your reputation; it can open a few doors and provide some new opportunities), but winning a competition doesn’t teach you how to develop your brand, build a website, write a bio or create an artist story, how to identify your market, use social media to build your fanbase, the importance of growing your email list, develop various income streams, book and plan tours, et cetera.
Music competitions are great but they aren’t a long-term plan for establishing a deeply satisfying and financially sustainable career. If you want to put food on your table, pay your mortgage and your bills and not struggle financially from month to month, you must think of yourself as a music business. You have to have more than just great musical chops if you want to be a professional musician.
The worst thing you can do for your career is put your destiny into the hands of another. It is never a good idea to put the key to your happiness, joy, and fulfillment in someone else’s hand. Similarly, do not wait for someone else to open a door, offer you approval, or hand you the career you are dreaming about.
Your career is your responsibility; not someone else’s, and even if you are fortunate and your career is at a stage where hiring a personal or artist manager makes sense (and it won’t be for most classical guitarists), you still have to supervise and direct that person or company.
Think about it from this perspective: if you are just starting out in your career, why would a personal or artist manager take you on as a client? What is in it for them? Why would they invest in you? In other words, emerging artists have to build their business to the extent that someone else would want to invest in you. Personal or artist managers, like record labels, are really music business investors.
One of the biggest challenges—and frustrations—of embarking on a professional music career is that we often get well-meaning family members and friends—and even unhappy or unsatisfied professional musicians—encouraging us to reconsider our career choice and find a “secure” career instead, as if anything is really secure or permanent these days. Or, similarly, they suggest we have a backup plan just in case our music career doesn’t work out.
Fans still DO buy music, but the outdated business model of the past is not going to work in today’s market. The consumption of music has changed dramatically since the introduction of the Internet. And you know what, the music industry will continue to change and evolve. If you truly want to make a living from your music, understand how today’s music business works (not the one from 40 years ago or how you think it should work) and learn to adapt and recognize new opportunities. You need to learn to think like an entrepreneur and consider how you can create opportunities for yourself.
Waiting for that lucky break in order for your dreams to come true means that you are going to be waiting for a very, very long time. As Paul Valery once said, “The first step in making your dreams come true is to wake up.” In other words, instead of waiting for that lucky break, take action, and create your own luck.
I remember this saying that my high school basketball coach shared with the team: “I must prepare myself, and perhaps my chance will come. And if it does come, I must be prepared, or it may never come again.” In other words, luck is no accident. Opportunities that we couldn’t have predicted last week let alone a year ago happen all the time, if you are open to them and ready to take action when they appear. But that is the key! You must prepare yourself and be open to something that may not be on your radar but very much a part of your dream.
You can’t sit on the sidelines and wait for your lucky break because it won’t come along. Begin to create the life you think you want and enjoy seeing how it unfolds.
Many classical guitarists fail at building their music career because they have unconsciously adopted one or more of these beliefs. In addition, when it comes to building their music career, many musicians have only given a half-hearted effort into building their music business or they have cherry-picked just a few of the elements they need but have ignored other components essential to building a music business. It shouldn't be a surprise that their dreams end up in smoke of regret and disappointment. Surprisingly, these same individuals then complain that society doesn't support the arts or hastily conclude that it is just impossible to make a living in the music industry as a classical guitarist.
If you are just finishing your studies or have recently graduated from a university or conservatory, it can feel pretty overwhelming as to what to do when it comes to establishing your career as a professional musician. Undoubtedly, you realise there is still much to learn about music and your instrument, but even more so, the daunting task of now building your career can feel pretty overwhelming if not intimidating. There is so much to do. What do you do and where do you start?
If these thoughts and ideas resonates with you, feel comforted in the fact that you are in good company.
I've seen WAY too many emerging classical guitarists—brilliant players—struggle to establish themselves professionally and grow their careers. The Classical Guitar Career Build program was designed to help you lay the foundation for your music business and career development. The program was put together with you in mind.
Making music is an art, but making a living from your music is a business. Many fail to realise their dreams of making a living as a professional musician because they don't recognize that as an independent musician, you are your own business.
Anyone who says that it is easy to build your own business—let alone a music business—is full of it! Building any career or business takes work. You need discipline, passion, persistence, confidence, flexibility, bravery, determination, and creativity. However, building your own career can also be incredibly rewarding, fulfilling, and deeply satisfying.
The Classical Guitar Career Build (CGCB) course is designed to help you put together the essential components you need to begin to build your career and grow your music business.
Most musicians don't go into music with the desire of "going into business" for themselves. Consequently, they don't give it much thought. But, that is exactly what you are doing when you embark on a music career as an independent musician.
However, you don't need to go it alone. In fact, I wouldn't recommend it.
Rather than stumbling through the process of figuring out what to do and how and when to do it, having a step-by-step program and an experienced guide to help you set up your music business can save you a lot of time, mistakes, and frustration.
If I knew then what I know now and had a clear-cut, step-by-step methodology to follow, it would have saved me years of wasted time, energy, a multitude of mistakes, frustrations, and a lot of money.
Below, is an outline of the CGCB course. These are the pieces you need to have in place in order to establish a foundation for your music business. Again, building any business—especially your music career—is not easy but if you are willing to do the work, are persistence, and prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they come your way, it is possible to build a rewarding and fulfilling career as a professional classical guitarist.
By the end of this program, you will have assembled the basic components that are the foundation of your music career/business. Construct a strong foundation and it becomes the base on which you can continue to build your music career.
You get six (6) live instructional classes over an 8 week period, each an in-depth tutorial on building critical pieces of your music career/business.
You also have two (2) built-in catch up weeks to make sure that you complete all the components in a timely manner and that they not only meet the standard that you want to be seen by, they authentically represent you and your music.
You also have six (6) weekly Q & A sessions. A few days after each class, when you have had some time to dive into your weekly projects, we gather to answer questions, share insights, solve problems, and trade ideas and thoughts. So, you are not left hanging out on your own trying to figure things out and you keep moving forward, implementing everything that you have learned in the class.
You receive two (2) individual, private, one-on-one coaching sessions. In each session, we get to hone in on your specific situation. We address any challenges, issues, or questions that you have about your own career development as well as any particular problems that you may be having in setting up your music business.
There are four modules. Each module takes one to two weeks to complete. Every section begins with an overview of the material to be covered and the tasks to be completed. The work is spread out so that you can still practise your art (whether that be performing, teaching, composing, arranging, et cetera.) while building your music business.
In the first module, you are going to gain clarity on your purpose, get clear regarding your career motivations, as well as reflect upon key career considerations that will impact your career trajectory.
Understanding what drives you and propels you forward is the foundation for all you do. It is your north star, your compass, your map in helping you in your career development and artistic endeavours. In this session, you will discover your “Why.”
There are numerous career opportunities in the music industry. But, how do you decide which ones are right for you? In this section, you will explore your aspirations regarding your love of music. What is a right decision for one person may not be the right decision for another so it is important to be clear on what values and preferences you consider important when deciding what is right for you.
In this section, you are going to explore different career considerations and how they will impact your career path. Each of your answers will influence your decisions regarding your career so it is critical that you are clear about what is important to you.
In module two, you will create a first impression that will be hard for your fans to ignore or forget. You will discover why branding is so important to you as a musician and will create a professional brand that will compel potential followers to stop and check you out. In addition to having quality promo photos, you will put together a biography that conveys distinctive aspects of your music career to promotors and venue operators, and write your artist story that will create an emotional bond with your fans.
Promotional photos are incredibly powerful. An excellent photo can not only can capture the attention of a potential fan, blogger, booking agent, or other industry professionals, it can also tell a story about you and your music that creates an unforgettable first impression. After this session, you are going to understand the qualities of outstanding publicity photo and create two professional quality photos that you can use in a variety of circumstances.
Your bio is a formal introduction of you and your music to industry professionals. It highlights the facts about you and your musical journey, such as your education, significant events, experiences, and major achievements. In this live webinar, you will write a bio that captures the attention of music industry professionals.
Your artist’s story is about you and your musical journey. It is not your résumé, your CV, or your bio, although it might include some elements from those documents. In this session, you are going to learn how to turn experiences into the biggest asset you have and write your own artist’s story that will not only introduce you and your music, it will create a bond between you and your fans.
During the first “Catch Up Week,” you will receive your first private one-to-one coaching session. We will review what you have accomplished so far, address any particular challenges or problems that you are struggling with, and answer any questions you may have about your own career development or music business.
In module three, you are going to establish a solid and inviting online presence. Unlike social media, your website is the one thing that you can truly call your own in the virtual world and that allows you to control the complete experience of those visiting your site. It is your dedicated space where you decide what visitors see and hear, and when.
In this training, you are going assemble the critical components of your music website and build your shop in virtual reality, all within a week. It is your dedicated space where you decide what visitors see and hear, and you decide how and when.
In module four, you will develop practical strategies to find, connect with, and grow an engaged fanbase. By building trusted relationships and being in tune with your fans, you can create a loyal community who will support your music and career.
Social media is a major arena where independent musicians can share their music. Every social media platform is unique and the content you post may have to be tailored to each platform. You will create a professional social media page where your fans can engage with you and your music or music-related services.
Emails are the most direct and reliable way of keeping in touch with your fans, which are also your customers. In this training, you are going to cover the basics of email marketing and why it is so critical for your music business.
During the second “Catch Up Week,” you will receive your second private one-to-one coaching session. We will again address any particular challenges or problems that you have run into up and make sure that the foundation for your music career is complete and you are ready for the launch stage of your career.
It’s time to celebrate your accomplishments and talk about what’s next . . .
You aren't waiting for your big break or happenchance to build or launch your career. You understand that success won't happen to you but you create it for yourself.
No following the crowds or chasing someone else's dream. You create the music you want to make and release it in whatever format and in a time that feels right to you. You can create at your own pace and are not governed by "permission-based creativity." Having the creative independence is very powerful.
You call the shots! You outline your own objectives and understand your motivations behind your musical endeavours. You decide what you work on and when you work. You have free reign in everything you do. You determine what path you take and what your next steps will be. You own your career, and you can also say "yes" to different opportunities that may fall outside the mainstream.
Every source of income matters and no one takes a cut from the revenue you earn. Developing multiple sources of income and keeping every dollar you earn means the likelihood of you making a full-time living as a professional musician increases exponentially. Everything you make, you keep.
Being able to connect directly with your fans means you can manage your market. You can learn who buys your music and/or music services, know who buys your merchandise, You know the demographics of your fanbase and how to connect with them.
Some say betting on yourself is risky but in fact, it is the best investment you can make—it is not a gamble. Breaks don't just appear and say, "It's your turn!" Continually placing bets on yourself and investing in youself is the only way to play.
Working to build your music business and develop your career—doing things for yourself—results in not only greater rewards but even bigger lessons. When you are betting on yourself and taking that risk, you have demonstrated that you are committed to your dreams—you are all in! Without that commitment—that investment—it is very, very difficult to make it in this industry. Give yourself the best chance and make an investment in yourself.
I realise that for most emerging classical or fingerstyle guitarists, $4,500 (USD) is a lot of money and most young musicians just don't have the income at this point in time to invest that much into their career—even though it is totally worth it! Since I have had a lot of people support me in developing and growing my career—and it is something you can never repay—, I've decided to pay it forward and offer the course for a ridicously low price.
However, even though I have been a professional classical guitarist for over 35 years—and have a load of experience to share—and have taught at the university level, including music business and industry courses, for 26 years, this format is a bit different. So, I am offering beta pricing for a very limited number of students. In participating in this initial offering, you will not only get a number of pieces for your music business in place, you will be supporting future students by helping me make this the best program available by providing valuable feedback and sharing your insights and experiences.
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My promise to you is to provide you with everything I possibly can to empower you to realise your career aspirations. Through this program, you will receive the information, the steps, the support, and even a community of fellow musicians to help you realise your music business goals and career aspirations.
If you attend all the instructional classes, participate in all the Q & A Sessions, are engaged in both one-on-one private coaching sessions, complete all the tasks by the deadlines (you're going to have to demonstrate to me that you have completed all the work), and you are still not happy with the results or the value you have received from this course, I will continue to work with you—for free—until you achieve the desired results.
Before you commit yourself to this course, you need to be abundantly clear about how this program will help you build your music business and support your career growth. This course is not a "magic wand" or a fast track method to your success. What you are building takes both time and effort. The materials you create in this program are critical in establishing your music business. If you are looking for a quick fix or not prepared to do the work to build your music business, no program can guarantee you results. But, if you are prepared to do the work over the long haul, you will realise that this course will be the foundation upon which you build your future success.
“Having had experience as a professional musician, I can say right away how difficult it is to understand what we have chosen as a career. Your concise power point presentation with the 6 steps so well detailed and pragmatically organized, all extremely current with the music business of today is fantastic. It is a huge help to me as an experienced artist, but will be a game changer for younger artists coming up and not having to fumble through and figure it out on their own. A very important and overlooked aspect in education today.”
Classical Guitarist, Teacher, Producer & DJ
You have a serious interest in pursuing a music career but you are not quite sure how to go about it or even where to start. You have finished, or in your last year of, a university or conservatory program and you are keen on pursuing your music and making it a permanent part of your life. You want a step-by-step approach that will help you establish your music career and business.
9That depends.... Many professional musicians struggle because they have not treated their career as a business. This course is perfect for those who have not established a strong foundation for their music business. So, if you have been playing for a while but haven't got all the pieces in place—or maybe need to update your materials—this course will help you do that.
If you are missing pieces from you Build Stage, chances are you will probably want to revisit the pieces you have already have in your foundation. There is a lot of information covered in the Build Stage that will motivate you to revise and update what you already have put together.
First, most would agree that recordings always pale in comparison to the real experience, and that you really need to be there, "in the room" (virtually speaking) to fully get it. If you aren’t attending the online class, you’ll miss out on all of the ah-ha moments, partnership opportunities and deep connections. Second, depending upon the source, the average completion rate for online courses that offer pre-recorded videos that you can go through at your own pace is anywhere between 3% - 12%. Yes, it is that low. The staggeringly high percentage of individuals who do not complete an online course makes it clear that the weekly accountability is critical if you are to get the most our of your investment.
That depends. Everyone is different in terms of their career progression but there are a number of factors one must consider. First, how good is your talent and who is interested in your music? This program, combined with the CGCL course, is designed to address the foundation of the business side of your music career but if your talent is not quite where it should be or there is not much demand for the music you play, results might not appear as expected or to the same level. Second, how well will you be actively applying the information taught? This is something that I cannot control. This course, combined with the CGCL course, is designed to maximize your chances for establishing a financially sustainable music career. What catches some people off guard is that upon completion of the course, the work is really just beginning, not ending, and you must continue to build upon what you have established. What I can say for certain is that personal fulfillment and career success will be much more difficult to achieve—if not impossible—without the groundwork this course covers.
There are two ways to answer this question. The first is to simply conduct an hourly calculation. Fees for a career coach ranges from $100-$600 per hour. A senior faculty member at a teaching university makes roughly $325 per contact hour. You can do the math. The second way to calculate the value of anything is to determine the potential impact completing the work will have on your career, especially if you continue to build on what you have started. In this case, the value of the course and the impact it will have on your career is worth far more than what you pay for the course.
The CGCB program is designed to be completed in 8 weeks. In the ninth week, there is a celebration and a chat about what lies ahead.
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Classical Guitar Career Masterclass 2021