While the music industry doesn’t make as much as banking or pharmaceuticals, it’s still a multi-billion pound business, reportedly making £15 billion in 2018 alone. But unlike banking or pharmacy, the music industry sells art. It deals with products that you can’t put an exact price on, because really good music is priceless. To be a great musician you need to have a creative flair that goes beyond the occasional spark of genius.
Excellent examples of this are the various, much disputed, ‘greatest guitarist’ lists that are constantly released and updated. While there are countless musicians out there who can play Hendrix or Beatles songs as well as the originators, they can’t create them.
There is an actual physiological reason as to why musicians are drawn to the creative arts. The left and right brains. The left brain focuses on areas like logic, mathematics and rote learning – meaning that they develop new ideas better in a formulated method. But the right brain is geared towards creative thinking and intuitive learning. The two halves, or hemispheres, of the brain are physically linked, though only through one fibrous connection called the Corpus Callosum.
Clearly, the greatest musicians are usually right brained. While a left brained person will be able to learn musical notation or tabbing and recreate it, a right brained person will go off the beaten track. New genres of music, for example, come about because a particularly right brained person found some inspiration which sparked a moment of genius and caused them to try something new. However, a left brained person might see the same thing that inspired a right brained person and think nothing of it.
But there is also the argument that it’s not just the musicians in the industry who are right brained. When people complain that a show is too expensive, often they forget that they’re not just paying for the hour that the band’s playing, but all the expenses that go around it too. Rehearsals, tours, albums – all of these are organised by the people behind the scenes. The industry professionals who have pursued careers that revolve around making sure that all of these things can happen.
And while these people may not have dedicated themselves to performing, as their clients have, many of them are still very artistically inclined. These professionals need to have a grasp of the business side of the industry. In their day to day lives they often deal with spreadsheets, logistics and budgeting – activities traditionally more successfully accomplished by left brained people. They may use both sides of their brain more equally, instead of leaning towards the right brain but they are still drawn to a creative industry.
Still, great managers revolutionised the game through creative thinking that can only be fuelled by the right brain. Take Peter Grant, who famously maneuvered Led Zeppelin to dizzying heights. His tactics, which have been described as ‘unusual but inspired’, were put in place to increase the band’s mystique and help boost sales. Malcolm McLaren, who managed perhaps the most infamous punk band of all time, The Sex Pistols, was also a fashion designer and visual artist, and saw the band as a kind of art project.
Many people most likely see the idea of being left brained as negative. Why would you want to be a boring mathematician when you could be a rockstar? But there are downsides to being right brained. Time-management and being disorganised and overly impulsive come out on the top of these. But perhaps that’s why they’re on stage and not behind a desk.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help kick-start your music career, why not come along to one of ACM’s Open Days.