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How to Excel Your Career in The Music Industry

Most everyone has a desire to excel in their career, but the #1 question people asked themselves is “How?”. Well, you have come to the right place. I will provide you with some tips that I have learned but have also confirmed from an amazing woman who is Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management & Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, and her name is Carla Stanley. Ms. Stanley shared on a TED TALK, which I have linked here for your viewing pleasure,  “How” to get ahead in your career.  I, however, have added my own twist by tailoring it more towards the music industry.

The information provided pretty much transcends across industries and is more of an overall rule of thumb, but I will include some music industry aspects. 

Most people in their careers want to excel, but they don’t know what to do. Many have taken the extra time to educate themselves or as an artist, have perfected their craft to find that they haven’t really excelled much and really aren’t where they want to ultimately be. There is a saying “It isn’t what you know, but who you know”. I believe this is partially true because at the end of the day there does come a point in time that you need to have something to offer to make it work, but overall “who you know”, does help. With that said I will share some advice that I learned from Ms. Stanley below, but I will now transition on how to apply this in the music industry.

First you need to think to yourself the questions:

  1. Who do I know in the industry?
  2.  Do I  have someone in the industry that will speak on my behalf when I’m not in the room?
  3. Do I have someone who believes in me so much that they will go out on a limb for me to make things happen in my favor?
  4.  Do I have someone in the industry who has my best interest at heart? 

Usually, in the business world, this person is called a sponsor, but in the music industry, this person is an artist manager. If you have answered yes to all 3 of these questions, then you are already in a great position. If you don’t, no worries, start to think who this person could be, and don’t be shy to ask them if they will sponsor you. There is however more to this:


You need to have currency as an individual and in the business world, this currency is just as good as money if not more. 

These are 2 types of currencies:

  1. Performance currency – which is you as the artist or individual delivering above and beyond what was asked of you.
  2. Relationship currency – Currency that is generated by the investment you have in people. 

Performance currency Value

  1. Will get you noticed – The work you put out, if it is worthy, it will get noticed. For example, as an artist if you put out great music, you will get noticed. If you are an A&R executive and you find great talent you will get noticed. 
  2. Get you paid and promoted – If you put your best foot forward. You will reap the benefits of getting paid and getting promoted.
  3. May attract a sponsor – Let’s face it you work hard, and this is going to attract someone with the authority is going to want to help you. 

Now how to identify a potential sponsor/manager and if they have these qualities. They may be willing to sponsor you but for them to be a true sponsor they need to have the qualities below:

Sponsors Attributes

  1. They need to have a seat at the table. This means that they have to be someone who has a say so in the industry or the company. For example, a VP or above or well-established artist manager.
  2. They need to have enough exposure to your work and believe in your work in order to be comfortable with speaking on your behalf. To be specific, they need to know your music and who you are as an artist, or they need to know that you have the skill to sign the next upcoming stars.
  3. Power – This person has to be well respected and held to a higher standard. For example, this person should have much influence from their peers/industry.

Overall, most people have a desire to excel in their careers whether they are in the music industry or not. These skills are obtained through hard work and speaking up for yourself. What you put in is what you are going to get out. Take the time to analyze where you stand  and apply to your situation if you haven’t already the tools above and see who will speak for your when you’re not in the room.

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