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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I have to ask you...when you say Nashville is ready to explode musically--what do you mean? I must be missing something. :)
Well, MOST people are missing it.

What i mean is, obviously, everything is very slow right now, people are needing work, the labels are closing, the publishers are laying off writers, etc. etc.

However, the town is more ripe with talent than it has EVER been, and not just country talent, but pop, R&B, rock, etc.

Simultaneously, everyone is trying to figure out their next move....what the "new model" is going to be.

Factor in that ALL eyes are on this city as the CENTER of the music universe (even in L.A. and Europe, people are talking about Nashville, and how talented and amazing the writers, players, producers are) and all the luminaries that have either moved here or are working here (Jack White, Michael McDonald, Jason Scheff of Chicago, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Rihanna, India Arie, Jewel, I could go on) and you begin to realize that the talent level here is hitting critical mass. At some point, one of these many "ventures" is going to blow up real good.

I cannot give you any "hard evidence". I can only give you my "gut feeling" from all the conversations I'm having and people I'm meeting.

Trust me. It IS going to explode. And when it does, all of the Music Row "old guard" will be standing around, scratching their heads wondering what just happened! LOL.....

That's all I can tell ya! :-)

When I realized eight years ago that I needed to leave San Francisco because there was no longer enough studio work to support the rapidly growing cost of living there, I looked really hard at New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. I talked to a lot of old industry friends. The consensus was that the only recording center in the United States that was doing anything remotely resembling holding its own at that time was Nashville. Yes, times are really tough but they are considerably tougher elsewhere.

Nashville remains the Mecca of music publishing, recording musicians and touring musicians. The pool of recording engineering talent here from all over the world is absolutely staggering. Nashville has the most recent generation of world class recording facilities anywhere combined with some of the least expensive first class travel accommodations. . As a result, this is by far the most attractive place to produce records in the world and the people who could go anywhere are coming here. I told my wife the first time we visited "this place feels exactly like Los Angeles did in the early '70s."

As for the "old guard," don't underestimate them! Nashville was put on the map by the country's very top pop music arranger, Owen Bradley and the group of extraordinarily talented musicians that he attracted. As country music's profile sunk during the mid 1950s, Nashville's reputation for producing hit pop records soared. The list of groundbreaking rock and roll records that were made here from before Sam Philips ever hung out his shingle until after Sun Records moved here from Memphis dwarfs what was produced in the rest of the world combined. This IS in fact the actual home of rock and roll only the "old guard" are very modest about it.

My gut feeling is that the entire music industry will be operating from Nashville within the next few years. Label offices could be located anywhere but the deepest musical talent pool in the world is right here. It's going to be fascinating to watch what unfolds.
Yes, with all humillity, after re-reading my post, I realized I sounded a little tough on the "old guard". Believe me, I have the UTMOST respect for the "old guard"! I simply am not so good at articulating my opinions. What I SHOULD say is that SOME folks in this town, who are perhaps not as forward thinking and maybe aren't paying attention to the "periphery", are going to be left scratching their heads. It was not my intent to indict with a generalization, and I apologize. :-)

The irony is, Owen Bradley was actually the NEW guard when he showed up!! LOL!!! We forget sometimes what mavericks these guys were! LOL.....

I definitely agree with your last statement as well. I am having that same gut feeling. it's very exciting times indeed to be in this town.
I have deep respect for the PIONEERS of this town but I'm also excited about the future and where things might be going.

I was at the union this afternoon and, at least to me, there's seems to be a real hopefulness for the future.

Faults and all, I love this town!!!!!
I couldn't agree with you more Tim....well put!!!!!

Peace & Blessings!!!!
I guess I should throw out my "hay I'm a bass player,need work" T-shirt:)
HA!!! I would!!!!!
I also have had many young players ask me "the question". You nailed it! I have been in town almost 20 years, and every door I tried to knock on (or knock down) never opened. All of my good opportunities I have referred to as "Manna from Heaven".
If a young player comes equipped with the right musical tools, their best friend is their own attitude. Take anything that comes their way; show up on time with the right clothes on, the right gear, and a helpful, humble attitude, and a smile, and your circle will widen and work will come.
Thanks for such a fine response to "the question". I will be referring guys to it.
Jeff Taylor
Right on I agree,

I think not only does it work that way on your topic of "How To Make It In Nashville" But,
on any part of the MUSIC BIZ. I'm a 27 year old Iowa boy who is working on getting signed to the right deal for a while now.
And what you have said in your post is so true. On a "Getting Signed" deal.

I had been heading back and forth to Nashville for quite some time. Cut my first Demo album to pitch to labels in late 2005 and released in early 2006. I tried so hard to push every angle of that album I could.(Force things to happen) and as I look back it did exactly what it was. A good project (Business Card) Opened a ton of new doors and closed some old doors that I'd been trying to break out of. Well after exhausting every angle that I could come up with. Working a day job and still performing 200 show per year. Needless to say I had to make some sort of change.

So Since Touring is such a big part of having a good self sustaining Business. I decided to hit the road. I love to Entertain!!!!! Why not. And Brush up on some chops, build the Vocals a bit and understand more about the business side of music.
And WOW did I have an Eye opener my first year. But while struggling trying to make things to happen. Performing 300 Shows per year. I feel back to my roots..... Hard work It will pay off........ like a big Farris wheel.

Well sure it's hard to get the strength to make that first turn. But with hard work, dedication and with a "Failure is not an option" Mentality. After a while you start to pick up slight momentum and each turn becomes a little easier but you still have to focus your energy to each shove or it will start to slow down.
But before you know it things start to fall in place. Like A good Accountant, The Right band, The right banker who understands an operating loan for a farmer is a lot different than for someone in the music industry, The right Agent who owns a globe and the Willie Nelson writing Quote. "You tend to write better songs when your broke." Money backers, Endorsements and a new album to release (in early 2009! Shameless plug) But laughing aside... HA AHA!

I feel if you want to succeed in any field of music Industry. You have to dive in head first. No testing the waters. As long as your heart is at the wheel and you surround yourself around positive people. You will be willing to make the sacrifices, Take educated risks, read a few TRUMP books, and realize.

That that old saying " Hard Work Pays Off " does work. When your working in right field.

A couple who have now invested a large sum of money in me showed me this movie on night after I was covered from head to toe from changing the oil for the first time on my bus. HUH!@

Their was this story about Two God fearin' Farmers one had a land on one side of the road and the other on the opposite side of the road. Well it was a dry season that year and they both needed rain badly. SO what did they do? Well they both Prayed and Prayed for it. Well No Rain. But in the mean time one of the Farmers went out to his land and started to prepare his field for the rain. While the other farmer just kept on praying saying God will bring the rain.
Well sure enough one day GOD brought the rain. BUT it only rained on one side of the road. Now Which side do you think got the rain?????? HUMM!!!!
well of coarse The farmer who went out and prepared his fields.

And the Moral of the story is. Just Praying for the Fame, fortune, Record Deal or Rain is one thing but
Good ole fashioned hard work and preparing yourself ensures that when it comes it goes where it's needed and make's every drop count.

So work hard to make every drop Count!

Jake McVey
Beautifully put...and TRUE!!!
Tim, I'm johnny come lately on this... joined this site a year ago, then bailed out... and then after numerous re-invitations, rejoined with some trepidation.

My mailbox on myspace often has an email from someone wanting to meet me so they can bend my ear about session work and live gigs... What's in it for me? Without exception- a cup of coffee. Maybe a Bombay and Tonic would get me a little more excited. I've actually told a few that I'd be happy to get with them and that my consultation rate is $100 per hour. This weeds out the faint of heart quite quickly.

I moved here thinking I'd be a Christian solo artist, never imagining a career as a sideman or a songwriter. Maybe my short lived CCM artist career had something to do with the Bombay and Tonic. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the unusual way things have unfolded. I'm still here, and I'm not trying to buy anyone a cup of coffee yet; although I will buy you a gin and tonic if you like, Tim.

The opportunities which have been given to me are more deserved by better players, and by better women and men. For everyone reading this, there are 100 people in this town who are more talented and skilled than you. Things just happen. Sometimes you are the person for the gig, and sometimes you're not. Sometimes getting the gig might be because you've got cooler shoes than the other guy. Or the artist's mama likes you. Or you really are the badass that your significant other says you are.

The best gigs have come to me when I have maintained a thankful attitude and when I've acknowledged that I'm fortunate to have one more opportunity.

Over 3 decades ago, I mused about playing with one of the greatest artists of our time. Last year, I was having lunch with Jimmie Lee Sloas when someone from Vector called and said "Emmylou Harris would like you to be a part of her band for 2008". I shed a tear, and Sloas thought someone had died.

All I knew was another undeserved kindness had befallen me.


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