The Working Musician Playbook


Lesson Info


As I sort of mentioned at the end of the last statement now we want to talk about communication which is really you know, the overall sort of um topic for this segment um and you know what is communication it's talking right it's expressing physically it could be writing, you know, there's different ways to communicate and sometimes we communicate with ourselves so like that whiteboard exercise that's a way to communicate with yourself write you write down excuse me things that in your head put him on on paper put him you know, on a white board and you can look and you can have this really kind of cool conversation about what you want to do, what you don't want to do, what things you focus on what things you don't want to focus on it's just a good ways teo learn how to communicate kind of internally just as much to communicate with each other and you know, just kind of a general overview it's like think about different what waterways you communicate like daily basis when you go to the ...

store right what's one way you might communicate with someone if you're like buying advil I don't know enquiring as to price there you go okay? And um you know let's say you're with somebody who is feeling sick, okay and they've pass out what would you do? How would you communicate? Who would you communicate? Tio emergency personnel. There you go. Perfect. So my point is, you know, those were two really kind of funny things to talk about. But, you know, we use communication for very important things we use in everyday life, like ordering food or, you know, saying hi to someone, you know, simple things like that, but I mean, communication is so important because it's, how everything gets done, you can get on stage and play a show, you can write a bunch of songs, but if you want to get it out there, there's people, other people that you have to communicate with toe actually get it to that point. And we talked about this before. If you want to play a show, you have to talk to somebody who's going to allow you to play it their venue, where you have a manager that says, hey, we want to book you on a tour, you're talking to them about booking the tour there, talking to the booking agent, the book he had just talking to the venue and the promoter, the promoter is talking to their staff. It all comes back and everybody's communicating, you know, in business, if I wanted to form a partnership with a company like actually band happy my company has a partnership creative live which we'll talk about a little bit later in order to make that happen I had to communicate I had to do a pitch so I had to like write up all this stuff I wantto you know talk about I had to go and present it to the people of creative live we had tto go back and forth on it and eventually after tons and tons of written and verbal communication we came to agreement and it's awesome but you need to be able to communicate well and you know really today you know I just kind of wanna talk about certain kinds of people you know certain people are really good at communicating naturally they're just very expressive I've always been really good at telling people how I feel you know like maybe because my parents but from a young age my mom would be like express yourself if you feel a certain way it's okay and I was always really sensitive coming up and you know so I would I would cry when I was a little kid you knew this person doesn't like me whatever it would be but I would communicate eventually get better at communicating and you know you learn how to use it for your benefit you know and um I think now with with business and with the band I mean I see every day so many people that just either blurt things out without thinking and it gets him in trouble and you have to sort of try to patch up what they've no are fixed what they've done in certain situations because they've dug a hole for themselves what they said there's certain people that are just really quiet really silent there's certain people that just talk too much there's certain people that just you know, our perfect getting every point across and they're usually amazing sales people and they just know howto talk in every situation you know it's like if you go to a wedding or something you have some people that give amazing speeches and then you have people that are just up there they're like bombing terribly and public speaking is a different thing but it's all just about how comfortable you are with knowing what you're trying to get across and and how to do it so when you really tie this into music you know, like I said it's it's the key to everything if you're if you're in a band that's very do it yourself d I y in order to get on the road you have to have a goal I want to play if I if I live in baltimore I want to play on the east coast so the first thing you have to do is you have to talk to your bandmates and say, hey, do you guys want to do this and that's communication you figure out where we want to go, how far we want to drive we have a way to get there you talk about that, you figure out how to do it and then you say, ok, what venues we want to play? All right, well, I don't know anybody there, okay? Well, we have to either find a list, uh venues and call the venues and see if they're taking any bookings right now or you could even find bands that are in other territories that you could make friends with online and say, hey, we want to come play your town at the venue that you play at and we'll invite you guys to come play at our venue and you create this path of communication there to figure out how to make that work and you can book shows, okay, if you wantto if you have a point with your band reading a manager before you sign a manager, sign a record deal, you need to talk about it don't just say, okay, give it to me, I'll take whatever you're offering, you have to communicate, you have to know as either a solo artists were as a you have to know as a band what your goal is and what you're willing to accept this faras a deal and then you have to communicate as a unit and talk because they're saying movie the godfather there's a point where um the godfather is meeting with, um I forget the guy's name in the movie but the bad guy one of their guys and he's and saudi his son speaks out of turn and he's like don't ever tell somebody outside the family what you're thinking, you know, and a lot of times that's a business tactic it's you have to act as a unit and communicate only what you want to get across, but to do that you have to communicate internally first so everybody's on the same page, you know? And these are things that you use in business and in music in its every sort of interaction there's certain things you would tell people in certain things you wooden and certain people that are better at talking and certain people that are and maybe that's something that we sort of a sign to one another when you're in a group setting if you're in a band, certain people should do the talking and maybe certain people shouldn't and that plays on the strengths and the weaknesses of the people in the group and if you're in a band, don't be you don't have your feelings hurt if someone says to you, hey, maybe you shouldn't do the talking here, okay? Because you know what? It might not be better for the overall group and that's, just something to think about, but there's all sorts of ways to communicate, you know, with music even playing music, that's communication and that's something that I think is really at the core of all of this, you know, the business stuff is great, but if you don't have a way to communicate your music to the audience, there's no point in even getting to the business part of it. Remember I said, the beginning of this thing, you have to be good at what you do, part of being good at what you do this being to communicate a message or a sound or a vibe or feeling with other people, whether it's your inspiring them or helping them or just entertaining them, you need to be able to communicate with your audience that's how music works that's, why people go see certain bands or why they go see certain artists because they feel like they're a part of something the music unites them. That's communication it's not a relationship in that the person in the back of the audience isn't talking and building a friendship maybe not at that point, with the person singing on stage, but the person singing on stages, communicating some message that relates to them, you have to figure out how to relate to people, so for me it's going to sound really funny one of the things that I did when I was trying to figure out my career and support myself was one of things I did was wait tables okay? And this is going to sound may be funny like I said, but waiting tables was such a fantastic experience for learning how to communicate about very basic things you're hungry you want food? I'm the guy that's the middleman between you and the kitchen but in a restaurant there are so many different types of people that you could encounter at any given moment you don't know what the people at your table are going to be like, right? So I was waiting tables at a fine dining restaurant in little italy in baltimore called chow bella andi tony, who owns what probably really happy and I just plugged that tony gambino his name I know anyway, so he'll be really happy I feel like that, but I was working at this restaurant and, you know, as a server there my job was to sell wine was to sell food and was to make the people feel like they're part of a family experience and you know, dining at a restaurant is all about experience that's a business too it's not about going on eating somewhere the food could be good, but if your service is bad, you're never gonna go back so it's all about the experience and I took what I learned in that situation and I've applied it to what I do in business I approach people not based off of this is my way of doing things and that's the only way it's I approach people whether it's students or business relationships or my bandmates based on their mood and how they are as people and working in the restaurant really exposed me to so many different types that I can really identify quickly with with someone's mood and it's not like this like given talent that I have it's just I've waited a lot of tables and I've worked a lot of different kinds of people so you know, I remember people that are really nice and welcoming like families they're like oh yeah bring whatever the food comes out that's great it's like cool my job's going to be easy we can communicate totally fine I can joke with you we could talk then there's sometimes there were tables that came in was like business meetings like we're like fifteen business executives air coming in and they don't want me around at all they just want me to take their orders and go that's fine certain situations like that you need to learn your role if I were to compare that to music that's almost like as a session musician if you go into the studio and you're going as a drummer, let's say to go record parts on five songs your job is to not go in there and be the center of attention don't start talking about yourself don't go in there and try to get everybody to like you and know who you are your job is to go in there and blend go in there and be a good hang lay back, do your job, do it well, make your statement on the drums for what the music requires and what you need to be doing, but that's it you're not supposed to be going in there and being a big ham and telling everybody about all your experiences and all the gigs you've had and what you've done that's not your role there, but if you're maybe teaching or something and someone says, well, what's your background as a teacher, then you can open up and say, well, I've done this I've done this and here's how it's helped me, but you have to know your your settings and almost no your role and know how to communicate in different situations. So that's something that's really important? So I guess my suggestion is we will talk about this, you know, if you're at a point where you're trying to do music and you need to make a buck somewhere else and it can't always be in music waiting tables is a great way to make a buck I know this is funny, like I said, but it's a great way to be interacting with all sorts of people and it will help you with communicating it will help you learn about working in a group and a team because there's also different parts of a restaurant there's the kitchen there are a whole bunch of special people and they're fantastic but that's a whole thing how that runs that separate from the waitstaff at severed from the bar staff that separate from the hosts from the owner's whatever if the lord had worked as a group in a well oiled machine and then you have the customers which are always going to be the wild card, you never know what you're going to get and when I go into I have a phone call for business this friday with someone I've never talked to before, I have no idea what to expect and my nervous about it no am I prepared to listen and feel the person out? Yes, and, um I prepared to present myself in a way that is professional. Yes, um I'm going to go start acting like a fool in the phone call no, I'm not going to do that I'm going to get drunk and get on the phone call no take yourself seriously but put yourself in situations and think about the things you do in your daily life, whether is waiting tables or going to a restaurant or going to the park or going to the dentist, whatever it is you do think about and watch how people communicate in different settings and what's appropriate and what's not a lot of this comes down to just being self aware and common sense, you know, I wouldn't want to teach this class by having every other word be a curse word, so I know a lot of curse words. Yeah, I'm gonna ban you kidding me? Could I tell lots of crazy stories that were probably inappropriate for this class? Yes, and I'm sure we'll get a question told stories like that, but I'm not going to because it's not that it's, not the appropriate setting for it, you know? So a lot of it has to do with being self aware and that's the key to communication. So before we get into talking our guest, I want you guys to practice communicating better in daily life, whether that means calling your father or your mother or a friend and asking them how their day is and being a good listener, that is a key to great communication as much as we all want to talk. We also have to be great at listening because that's how we really find out what people need, what people want and how to position ourselves to communicate best to them to help them or solve their you know the problem that they're looking to solve the challenge they're tryingto overcome okay, so call people or get in touch with people don't just text I know we all text I text like a maniac but call people and just practice speaking and listening and trying to hear how you khun help and maybe sometimes people just need to talk and you're there to listen you know, I can't tell you how many cab drives a cab rides I've taken where I've just been in the back listening to someone tell me there their troubles you know what? Like that's that's a job where someone's working by themselves a lot or a bus driver on the tour man tour bus drivers or some of the coolest people out there and they love to tell stories but think about it they drive alone overnight while everybody's asleep and they sleep there the day they need people to talk to as much as sometimes you don't wantto hear crazy stories sometimes it's good to sit and learn how to listen okay, so that's my point practised communicating better by listening better and practice communicating better to get what you need by understanding who the person that you're communicating with is and how they work. You know, I wouldn't go to my dad, who was a very interesting guy and say to him, do this that's not gonna work with my dad? I'd have to explain, dad, listen, there's something I really I need from you can I explain why? And he'd say, yeah, tell me why I'd say, okay, here's, what I needed, I would have to really explain it, so you have to get better community and that's the bottom line I've said that a lot so far, but practice communicating everyday life, ordering food, going to the store even if it's a simple as when you go to the store and someone says, what do you want out of the deli case? Don't start with gimme this that's not good practice. Start by saying, hey, how's your day that person is a person who has feelings and who has a job and maybe it's not the best job in the world, but you can actually make him be nicer to you and serve you better by simply asking them something simple is how's your day that applies to business? Yeah, yeah, you've been ah, really a great communicator, I wanted to say it's it's good that you were pointing out early that you were very much talking about your feelings is a kid on, and you'd had somebody write in about their question, like, how do I get my band members to be on the same pages? I one of the things that I had come across didn't like learning to communicate better with people, especially in difficult situations like that is that you need to express your feelings you need you need to be able to sit someone down and say, ok, when this happened, it made me feel like this because then you're disarming the conflict, you're not saying you did this and that's wrong, it's it's more like when you did this thing, it made me feel like this, and it gives the other person the opportunity to say, oh, I didn't mean that what I meant was this so you can use that to resolve conflicts within a band on and it works, it works when you're asking somebody for something, right? If you're like, hey, it would make me feel really great if our band could have this spot because it would work really well with our fan base. Well, that's hope that's have a communication is almost like it's called inouye business communication or group communication, because it's, when you're trying to communicate productively, which is what it is for the greater good it's not about getting defensive and taking things personally because when you're part of a group there is a goal in mind there's an overall message or there's an overall sort of sort of you know, I guess vision for like a band or whatever it is you have to communicate from that standpoint listen, we're all on the same team so what we're about to say may be a little bit abrasive or maybe a little bit harsh but don't take it personally because it's not about you as a person don't get defensive it's about your actions can affect the greater good of the group, so by speaking from how it affected you first it shows the person that their actions actually do have an effect on other people that they're around and it shows them that maybe they should think about what they say before they say it rather than saying your excuse my language but you know what I mean? Like rather than saying that it's bleeding with that you're saying, listen, like you said you did something that made me feel a certain way and I want to explain why it made me feel this certain way and then from there I want to work together to figure out how we can communicate better so that I'm not feeling this way from you and that you don't feel like you have to act this way because of me or because of the group? Sure, I think that's especially important when you're dealing with a good band, are some kind of setting like that, because if you are touring, you know, you're together a lot, and if something does come up and you kind of hold it in and just say, oh, don't worry about it will go away and it keeps happening, and you keep holding it eventually, it'll come out pretty ugly, so you don't hae I mean, in any relationship, whether it's with a boyfriend girlfriend, whether it's husband and wife, brother and sister's friend's band, you have to figure out how to communicate and maybe speaking, it isn't the right way sometimes, for people may be writing it down and handing a letter to someone is fine, but don't do it in in a way that your attacking someone or being super defensive being in a way it do it in a way, that's, honest and supportive, because yet to realize that everybody's human, we all have good days and bad days, and you have to think about the overall position you're in with the person that you're communicating with. Are you part of the same team? If you are, then you need to speak like you're part of the same team, if your enemies but I just don't want to speak to that person. Okay? But if you're all part of the same team than you have to communicate that way.

Class Description

It takes more than raw talent to make a living as a musician – and it doesn’t happen overnight. In this online course, Modern Drummer’s 2013 Best Metal Drummer of the Year and founder of BandHappy Matt Halpern will show you how to break out of the garage and build a lasting career in the music industry.

Drawing on his own successful experience with the award-winning band Periphery, Matt will walk you through the everything you need to know about breaking into the industry, improving your technical skills, and making the right moves to ensure long-term success. You’ll learn how to get your foot in the door, build a sustainable career as a working musician, and keep growing your career from there. From finding the right management, agent, and label to building relationships with sponsors and key industry players, you’ll learn it all from one of this generation’s most respected minds in the business.

Special industry guests include:

  • Ash Avildsen - Sumerian Records Founder/CEO
  • Mike Mowery - Outerloop MGMT Founder/CEO
  • Mark Scribner - Business Manager for Killswitch Engage, Periphery, Animals as Leaders
  • Mike Johnston - Drummer, Clinician and Founder of
  • Chris Brewer - Head of Artist Relations for Meinl Cymbals USA
  • J.P. Bouvet - Drummer, Clinician and winner of Guitar Center Drum Off 2011

By the end of this class, you’ll have a comprehensive, actionable playbook for breaking into the music industry and putting in the right work.


Nathan Mason

This was all so insightful! It's early in my soon to be career as a working musician and this class is everything I wanted to know. It's great to hear some validation from people who've made it. This isn't some magic trick, this can all be achieved with talent, hard work and a being the best you can be to everyone around you. On top of being insightful I instantly connected with every guest and speaker. We're all going to friends one day and I can't wait. Great class lead by great people. Thanks Matt.