As someone who really wants to make it as a musician and as a guitarist, it really is critical to be able to start to learn the many other aspects of the business. I know that it took me a long time to finally get a grasp on many of the things that were really happening here, since I started professionally so young. One fact that started to really come to mind was that since it was a regular thing for me to count on the phone to ring for tours, sessions, etc., it was important to develop other sides of my musical spectrum. For example, the idea for Hot Licks tapes came to me as early as back in 1973, when I was encouraging my students to always tape their lessons with me, but I finally started the business in 1979, when my wife-to-be, Deborah and I realized we were almost out of money, and with the phone not ringing for any work!
I also, at a very early age began to write books that had a very positive reaction from the public. My first book deal was for three books with Music Sales, or Oak Publications at the time; Slide Guitar, Nashville Guitar and How to Play Blues Guitar. This happened in 1973, when I was just 21 years old, and was not only an incredible confidence-booster, but helped establish me as an author and helped me gain a new and different form of income!
I never felt that my cultivating my “teaching” side ever usurped my performing/recording side, as I felt that it would do a good job of helping my reputation as a player spread as well, and of course, it did do that. You should never hesitate to develop other aspects of your career, because if you stay true to your music and playing, all the other things will truly help to in the end, spread your reputation. Not only that, it’s really essential that you protect yourself from the obvious pitfalls of the business and its “up and down” nature. More than ever these days, the music business is spread thin, but at the same time, “independence” has become the norm, and artists are all self-publishing, and forming their own labels. Truthfully, it’s entirely possible to keep on releasing material these days without ever even creating a cd at all. It can all be downloads, and there are many great sites where you can do this with great ease and success.
Cultivating the song-writing side of yourself is also very important, as this can end up being the best-paying, and most recognition-garnering part of the business. There are so many song ideas you may have that will be much more suited to someone else’s voice or instrumental prowess, and it can in turn, make folks check you out as a solo artist, or band in your own right.
So take it from me, the ability to “cover all the bases” will no doubt enter into the equation for you at some point in your career, so the earlier you start to develop all of you musical facets, the better off you’ll be!