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The music world is one of our society’s most fascinating communities, a globe-spanning social network filled with unique and creative people. At BBC Introducing Live, a brand new industry event organised by the most recognizable broadcaster on the planet, over 15,000 people gathered over three days to share their knowledge, meet new friends, and make meaningful connections. The ACM was at BBC Introducing Live from start to finish – and we uncovered plenty of important insights along the way…
1. Learn about every aspect of music – not just the part you want to work in.
As every ACM panel passionately emphasised, knowledge is power in the music business. Armed with a deep understanding of how everything fits together, you will naturally encounter opportunities you might not have spotted otherwise. You might even discover a new passion that makes you fall in love with music all over again.
2. Geeking out will get you paid.
Graphs, charts, and spreadsheets may not sound like the most exciting things in the world, but deciphering them will boost your bank account. Several Introducing Live talks were set up to ease musicians into the world of digital data and prove that a little research can help you pay the bills. Talk to Dave Cronen, ACM’s Business Link Ambassador, to learn more about how you can use your data to further your career.
3. Keep your sense of humour.
Although pursuing a career in music can sometimes be stressful, laughter can lighten the load and make your life easier. From You Me At Six making fun of themselves to artist Tom Grennan taking a bathroom break in the middle of a chat being broadcast live on BBC Radio, almost every Introducing Live panel had its light-hearted moments. Wherever you are in your journey, pausing to share a joke with your friends is always a good move.
Adele’s manager, Jonathan Dickins, in conversation with Huw Stephens. © BBC Introducing Live
4. Protect your hearing.
High volume levels are unavoidable when you work in music, whether you’re rocking out in a packed venue or spending a night dancing in clubs. We all love a great live experience, but it’s important to remember that if we damage our ears, our careers can be cut short very quickly. At Introducing Live, an entire panel of tinnitus sufferers urged their audience to safeguard their futures by wearing earplugs.
Although some people might think earplugs are uncool, wearing them will mark you out as a serious music industry professional. If you work as a musician or DJ, you could even find that wearing earplugs helps you focus on your performance. Investing in some high-quality ear protection will keep you in the game for years and decades to come.
5. Even the biggest tunes had humble beginnings.
When you hear a song that’s charging up the charts, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the music you’re listening to was crafted perfectly from day one. Band biographies and magazine articles often make a big act’s creative process sound effortless, and that can make songwriters feel intimidated when they’re first starting out. Fortunately, the reality works very differently.
During Introducing Live panels featuring You Me At Six, Guildford-based songwriter and producer Jamie Scott (JLS, Enrique Iglesias, One Direction), and Giorgio Tuinfort (Michael Jackson, Rhianna, Whitney Houston), audiences were treated to listening sessions featuring early demos that eventually became hit singles. It quickly became clear that no matter how famous you might be, you shouldn’t expect a flawless tune to emerge fully formed every time. Aim for gradual improvement, be patient, and you never know how far a rough take might take you.
6. If you’re on time, you’re late.
When you’re dealing with studios and lawyers who charge serious money for their services, you literally can’t afford to keep them waiting. Session musicians can easily lose a job if they take too long getting to a gig, and a bad reputation can spread quickly. Whether you’re spending your own money or working to someone else’s schedule, keeping the calendar on your phone updated at all times can save you from all kinds of difficult situations.
Deadmau5 chats to Danny Howard. © BBC Introducing Live
7. Your network is your net worth.
Ace – the ACM’s Director of Creative Industry Development – is a true fountain of knowledge, and passed on these words to the audience at our music education panel. The more people you know, the more opportunities will come your way. Don’t forget to connect your contacts with each other if you think they’d work well together – if they end up doing something great, they’ll remember the day you introduced them.
8. If you want to get ahead faster, consider a change of scenery.
It’s hard to make waves in music when you’re stuck in a small town with no serious music scene, but taking a leap of faith and heading to busier areas can catapult you into the career you deserve. Plenty of bands and artists found fame and fortune simply by meeting the right people, and the more potential contacts you surround yourself with, the better your chances of doing the same. At the ACM, you’re constantly surrounded by likeminded peers – and the friends you make here could change your life forever.
9. Pick your team wisely.
No matter how talented you are, there are only so many hours in the day – and an equally talented team can take some of the weight off your shoulders. That said, you do need to be careful about who to trust, and do your research before hiring your next team member. Adele’s manager Jonathan Dickins, You Me At Six, and Ms Banks all stressed the importance of picking people you can rely on, as did every other Introducing Live speaker whenever the topic of teams reared its head.
10. It doesn’t matter where you start.
Making progress in music feels great – but where should your journey begin? At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. It’s best to pick whatever appeals to you right now, and use that as a starting point for further exploration.
Most people start at the bottom in music, and there’s no shame in that. A good internship can help you understand how a company works from the inside; legendary EDM producer and Introducing Live speaker Deadmau5 began his career as a hobbyist, as do the vast majority of musicians; and countless big stars know exactly what it’s like to play to an empty room. Every time you take action and get involved, you’re gaining experience that you can keep building on for the rest of your life.
© BBC Introducing Live
Thanks for reading! If you’d like to learn more about the music business and everything it has to offer, come along to one of ACM’s Open Days.