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Time and space: careers in music require a special skill set

Story Published Friday 24 August 2018
A 2016 SongMakers Workshop at Ulladulla High, NSW with producer Robert Conley and singer-songwriter Rai Thistlethwayte

If you’ve decided on a career in music, you’ll most likely need to make money in non-music ways at the start of your career, as most artists do

Mentors in the industry can be a huge help in giving advice, encouragement or helping you make further connections

You should also utilise an organisation like APRA AMCOS, and the variety of free materials and events they have on offer

Tina Broad runs SongMakers, the in-school music mentoring partnership between APRA AMCOS and the Australian government.

If you’ve decided on a career in music all the research says you’re probably going to have to make money in non-music ways while you’re building up your music – you’re probably doing that already. That means you have to get good at time management so you can make the space to write, play, practice and fit in all the other career-related stuff you need to do when you’re not on your ‘other’ job. This kind of portfolio life can be confusing but if you let it. So make your physical and mental health a priority: get enough sleep; eat well; exercise regularly; get plenty of fresh air and sunlight. Look after yourself, Tina says.

An APRA AMCOS membership opens the door to a ton of mostly free or low cost professional development and networking opportunities where you can learn from and be inspired by music pros and build up your skills and connections. There’s a lot of goodwill in the industry and people are almost always willing to share their smarts. Just ask – in person, or if that’s too daunting, privately through social media. If fear looks like stopping you from taking a step, ask yourself: actually, what’s the worst that can happen if I do this?

Finding mentors, inside and outside of the music industry, makes a huge difference - people who can help you keep things in perspective, give advice and encouragement in the times when you feel like you’ve hit a wall. This is really important for young women in the industry in particular because all the evidence shows that it’s harder for young women to get a break.

It’s also critical that you understand your rights as a music creator. APRA AMCOS can help you navigate the complex world of music copyright and ensure you receive the royalties you’re entitled to, and if you want to use other people’s music - whether as part of your own creative process or in a business context - we can advise you what permissions and licences you’ll need. Remember - all creators have a right to earn a living through their music!

Do you know someone whose career you admire? Even someone who runs a successful small business or has a senior role at their work? Reach out to them, or work your networks to get an introduction or at the least a reply!

Tina is a long-time strategist and project director with a special interest in music education. She started Australia’s biggest school music initiative, Music: Count Us In and was internationally recognised for her work, winning the International Music Council’s Musical Rights Award in 2011. She currently runs SongMakers, the in-school music mentoring program that is a partnership between APRA AMCOS and the Australian government. She is also researching the school-to-work transitions of young Australian songwriters as part of her PhD studies.