Now shipping....

Ok, so I admit the title is a little cliche, however, as I write this my mailbox is full of messages that have caused me some concern of late.

First of all, I want to qualify all that I am about to say by saying:

1) I'm certainly no expert.
2) I make my living as a player and arranger. I rarely, if ever, produce records, and when I do, they are certainly not big chart hits. (yet!)
3) I ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY mean all of this with ALL humility, and my intent here is to advise younger players who are just jumping on the music biz "ladder".

So.....having said all that, like I mentioned, my inbox is full of messages from guys looking for work. A couple of these guys I know, but MOST of them I've never heard of.

I remember being fresh out of Belmont, hungry for work (geez, hungry for FOOD!!) and trying every trick in the book to get gigs. I sent out demo cassettes (yeah, it was that far back), I point blank asked anyone I knew who hired players, produced records, whatever. It never worked. Ever.

Being on the other side of it, I feel like I should just offer this piece of wisdom: (and here's where you need to remember that part about me meaning this with all humility) I"m just telling you the truth. No producer in town is EVER going to hire you because of some email he got letting him know you're looking for work. The stakes are just too high. The only way it happens is keeping your head down, doing a good job, playing whatEVER gigs you can find, and IF YOU'VE GOT THE GOODS, trust me.....people WILL find out about it. Players will talk. They always do.

I know I'll probably get some responses along the line of "hey, I wasn't expecting to be on the next Rascal Flatts record, I'm just trying to let people know I'm available." Well....I do understand that, but I gotta tell ya, I think (in my humble opinion) you end up shooting yourself in the foot. The problem is just the sheer volume of emails everyone gets. It becomes more of a nuisance than anything, and ultimately, I'm sure there are some PHENOMENAL players out there who end up being associated with a negative impression.

Listen, Nashville is poised to explode in the near future, and I think there is gonna be a LOT of work for everyone, and I truly wanna see the younger, newer faces in town succeed. I'm not sure I even have a good answer for an alternative. I was speaking with a friend about this (who is suffering from the same flood of emails) and he suggested maybe instead of mass emails, perhaps just doing a personal blog talking about who you are, what you do, etc. That sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

One thing I have learned in my 27 years in this business: It is virtually impossible to rush the process. In my experience, EVERY good thing that has happened to me career-wise, has just fallen into my lap with very little effort from me. (You know what I mean....I worked my tail off on the musical side, practicing, etc., but no effort on the PROMOTIONAL side).

Ultimately, I think it's just what I said before. Keep your head down. Play whenever and wherever you can. Don't offer your opinion. Keep your mind and your eyes and ears open and be willing to learn. If you truly have the goods, people WILL find out about it.

In the meantime, PLEASE give my inbox a minute to take a breath! ;-)

Love and kisses....

Tim Akers

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yeah, I just gotta agree with Tim and Scotty, I have NEVER gotten a gig from a cold phone call or meeting EVER. Tim (and I never thought I'd say this) has put his finger on a rarely spoken truism... let your work speak for itself.

Great advice Tim.

I started teaching at MTSU 2 years ago, and I have students who take from me hoping to get connections through me for work. I invite some of them to sessions and try to be as honest as I can about the biz. I let them know that {if they choose Nashville), they will be competing with me, and players that are are much better than me (like you!).

I agree that "keeping your head down" and letting your music speak for itself is important. On the other hand, if you are not pro-active in some ways, no one will know that you exist. A delicate balance to be sure. I would add that we need to remember those who helped and mentored us for no other reason than a love of music and the desire to "pass it forward".

I've had to make peace with the fact that it's a natural cycle for younger and hungrier players tp assert themselves and begin to take some of the work that I used to do. (I'm sure I'm not alone in I?...hello?). I just try to stay hungry about wanting to play and write. It's a joy and a priviledge, and becomes much more important with age. I now try to help them and guide them, and will even recommend them if I think they are ready. (I have actually written a book that includes this subject that hopefully will be published someday).
I really liked the article. Pat, you are a great player. I've seen you many times before. John Arnn once brought you into a seminar way back when I was at Belmont. I heard you speak and play. I think Arnn also brought Tim in another day as well. I remember meeting you a long time ago. I said to myself, "in a few years, I'll be in his position". Yeah, well, I'm not a very good psychic because you're definitely farther along than I am. I wish I could do just half the studio work that you guys hog up - uh, I mean, get hired for. :-)

Back to what Pat said... He said something about those who mentor and help us. It pains me to say this, but in all of my 10 years here, that's my biggest complaint. I have never found anyone who cared enough to be a mentor to me. Sure, I met guys who would say something along the lines of "nice to meet you, good luck", but I always felt I would be bothering them if I wanted to get past that. It's like they didn't care to really offer any help and sorta thought of me as some newbie looking for a shortcut to the top. I'm not only talking about other musicians, I'm talking about studio owners, producers, songwriters, engineers, etc... In fact, other studio musicians are the last guys that could help you. They usually don't want to help the competition. They are always complaining of how slow things are themselves. They will not give away work.

It's funny, because when I asked many of these same guys how they made it, the always tell me how they met somebody who helped them, how a friend hooked them up, or introduced them to somebody, etc...

Here's my advice in addition to what Tim and others have wrote... Don't be a name dropper. It's a turn off to hear some germ list names of people he probably only saw a Kroger one day. Only list a name when you are asked about who you play for, or if you discover you have a mutual friendship with somebody.

Also, to echo the "keep your head down" thing... I think to take that literally is to go to the extreme, but never go around delivering your opinion or talking too much. If your playing is great, then people will naturally want to hear what you think from time to time. They will ask you what you think. Speak softly and carry a big stick. The more you talk and give your opinion, the more chance there is for someone to not like you. There's a lot of jerks in this town who aren't very tolerant and accepting of differing opinions so it would really fire them up.

Also, never say who you think stinks or is a poor musician... there's a good chance people in the room will know the person you're speaking of and be offended - even if you are right! Relationships matter more in this town. The music industry is like a small town, don't talk about people. Here is the rule of thumb... EVERYONE is great! I know this leads to a lot of B.S. but unelss you REALLY know the people you are hanging around, just act like everybody is God's gift to the world. Also, act like you're nobody. A perfect example is how in Pat Coil's last post, he pointed to Tim being a greater player than he is. Whether it's true or not, that's just good manners around here.

Also, never give opinions about anything when you are new on a gig. Even if you are honest, sincere, and nice about it, some guy with an attitude problem will start talking behind your back and you'll be off the gig soon enough because you'll be viewed as the source of trouble and disconnect among those on the gig.

I could be totally wrong about all of this. If anyone disagrees please let me know. BTW I love this website. I just joined today!!!
To define the phrase "Make It" is alot like trying to define "success". I'm still working on that myself. I agree with Dan. I try to let my playing and or singing speek for itself. But I also agree with Pat and the delicate balance of "out of sight-out of mind" I'm blessed and thankfule to be able to make a living (sometimes better than others) doing what I've wanted to do since I was a kid.

That aside, GREAT advice by all. Happy to have you as my peers!!
Randy are so very right..."success" is all so relative...I still have goals yet to achieve which means I'm still trying to be "successful" with them...we have to keep growing or we lose whatever forward motion we already have going for us....and you are right with Pat's comment about being "seen" at least in our peer groups of friends and other players...I also feel very blessed to be able to do for my living what I've dreamed about doing since the age of 14...that was when I found out that Dennis Wilson didn't play on all the Beach Boys records...Hal Blaine did....what an epiphany it was...and I always try to remember that when work is slow...friends say they "have to go to work"...I "get to go to work"...
Pat, maybe you can be NMP Press' first author. I really like what you are saying here. Balance being the key. It is a fine art to learn where the lines and boundaries are located. I think there are many music professionals here in Nashville that have great mentoring skills. Just this week, I was on a session where some of the players had young guys stopping by to watch, listen and learn. When the session was over, I saw them giving advice as they were packing up their gear, showing the guys what they were using, telling them what they liked and why they liked it. I don't think I heard, "I'll get you a gig sometime" in any of those conversations. Also, I don't recall any of the young guys telling me or the players where their next gig was.
Pat, I have been re-reading this thread tonight and you hit on something that I think is very important for those of us that see our roles in the industry changing a bit. While I still make a large portion of my income from engineering and audio related efforts, it's not like it used to be. It would be really easy to think that when the phone doesn't ring as much as it used to, that the journey is beginning to end, but if we find new ways to use our gifts and embrace the cycle you referred to, it opens up a whole new realm of opportunities to make contributions that we may have never dreamed of. I plan to spend this year exploring more ways to help younger talent find their place in our industry - passing it forward. Thanks for the wisdom.
Bravo Bret!!!!!
Well said Tim and everyone else. I have been through several 'lives' since being in town; one leading comfortably into the next and all for good reason. I awake every day being very thankful for where I am.

So many thoughts I have personally had through my life come to mind in no particular order:

Production does not happen without performance and visa versa.
Shameless self promotion isn't free and usually costs more than you think it will.
Hard work pays off and people do notice.
Don't do it because you have to, do it because you love it.
Be thankful for every moment of your life. It is what you make it.
The laws of attraction are real.
Don't think someone loves you because you think they love you. ( I getting too personal? ;-)
AND (very important one here) - Despite what you may think, the universe does not revolve around you.

your list reminds me of what I try to tell myself and my kids:

1) If you want to be loved - love.
2) If you want other to respect you - respect others.
3) If you need a friend - be a friend.

and the list goes on.

More often than not, if we lack wisdom, we are put in situations that require wisdom. If we need patience, we are put in situations that require patience.

There is a pattern to a well lived life and true happiness.
I get so serious I scare myself! ;-)
Excellent Rolf...I've known you through a few of those "lives"...hahaha Michael and Pickers Pickup!
You really have gotten a good start of 8 things that make up the "Thou Shalt or Shalt Not" of the commandments of the music business...especially as a creative component of that business...Bravo buddy


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