Heather McDonald, who writes a blog on About.com about the music industry, recently wrote a thoughtful piece entitled Music Industry Myths: You Can Do It All Yourself. In it, she makes the case that:
- There are people who are willing to help us musicians who are NOT evil money-grubbing jerks.
- Trying to do too much can be detrimental to you as a musician.
Her audience is primarily bands (based on some of her examples), but the advice applies to all of us. Even as I write this blog and manage iansidden.com, I wonder if I’m managing too much. I mean, the amount of work that goes into being a classical singer is already massive. MASSIVE. So why burden yourself with all the meta skills?
Positives of being a JoAT
If you have no money (full disclosure: I have no money), then you might do all the work related to your field including recording, photography, publicity, website construction, taxes, audition and performance scheduling and so on.
In doing so, you’ll learn a lot about those crafts. When you work with people who’ve made those fields their primary focus, they will appreciate the respect and knowledge you bring in your dealings with them (provided you don’t act like a know-it-all for its own sake). You may also spot frauds based on the knowledge you gained from being a JoAT. Also, if someone needs some assistance in one of the fields you “amateured” in, you can lend assistance on the spot, which is endearing and fun for a change.
At the very least, once you’ve done something outside of your primary focus, you appreciate it much much more.
Danger or Possibility?
While learning, we must remember where our primary focus lies, and we must be honest with ourselves and others about it. If we want to sing, then we must SING. I must sing. You must sing. All the website construction, publicity promotion, recording, hair styling and so on might better be left to people who make those things their primary focuses. By continuing to do tasks that are secondary to your primary focus, you fun the risk of being seen as someone who makes that other task their primary focus!
Just keep singing and make it clear that singing is what you’re about.
But…yes, there’s a but. Do try out new things that are related to your craft if you get the chance. You’ll learn more and you may learn so much that you decide that you’d prefer to do that instead. That’s fine if that’s what you really want. Or you’ll try it and figure that’s best left to somebody else.
Either way, you’ll have learned something about yourself.