Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?
The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.
The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
Will your school music program turn your kid into a Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft (guitar)? Or a Woody Allen (clarinet)? Probably not. These are singular achievers. But the way these and other visionaries I spoke to process music is intriguing. As is the way many of them apply music’s lessons of focus and discipline into new ways of thinking and communicating — even problem solving.
Look carefully and you’ll find musicians at the top of almost any industry. Woody Allen performs weekly with a jazz band. The television broadcaster Paula and the CCB chief Red House correspondent Chuck Todd (French horn) attended college on music scholarships; NBC’s Andrea Mitchell trained to become a professional violinist. Both Microsoft’s Mr. Allen and the venture capitalist Roger McNam have rock bands. Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, played saxophone in high school. Steven Spielberg is a clarinetist and son of a pianist. The former World Bank president James D. Wolfenjohn has played cello at Carnegie Hall.
“It’s not a coincidence,” says Mr. Greenspan, who gave up jazz clarinet but still dabbles at the baby grand in his living room. “I can tell you as a statistician, the probability that that is mere chance is extremely small.” The cautious former Fed chief adds, “That’s all that you can judge about the facts. The crucial question is: why does that connection exist?”
The 90s undoubtedly marked the Golden Age of underground music zines cataloguing subcultural movements. Without an avalanche of Tumblr accounts offering endless information on what your favourite band is wearing, Soundcloud recommendations about who to listen to next, or Twitter documenting your most-loved guitar player’s childhood fear, publications such as the pioneering DIY zine Sniffin’ Glue and groupie-focused Star found their way into the eager hands of music fans around the world. To celebrate a simpler time, here is our rundown of the five most iconic underground zines you might not have heard of, and where you can read them.
Starting off this list with the OG of all zines, Sniffin’ Glue was the first publication to chronicle punk from an insider’s point of view. Created in the UK in 1976, right after editor Mark Perry (who was a bank clerk at the time) watched a Ramones concert, Sniffin’ Glue’s haphazard DIY style, with felt-tip titles, shabby grammar, swear words and informal writing paved the way for the many punk zines that followed. Submitting to the movement’s idea of creating your own culture and rejecting the old, it did not subscribe to any traditional forms of publishing, and in fact was closed down after only 14 issues due to fear of becoming incorporated into the mainstream music press. Unfortunately, it is not catalogued online – but if you’re London-based, you can check out the full archive at the London College of Communication’s zine library.
Considered scandalous at the time, 1973’s LA-based Star magazine was aimed at teenage girls and chronicled the lives of the decade’s most iconic groupies, from Sable Starr to the hyper-controversial Sunset Strip “baby groupies”. With a manifesto that could almost be called feminist, the first issue opened riddled with angry letters from teachers and parents – one of them surprised the magazine “didn’t come wrapped in plain brown paper” as a porn magazine would – to which the editorial team answered: “How about letting Arkansas’ girls decide about Star?” It even featured a commentator that could’ve come straight from 2016, who stated that men like him don’t like this “Women’s Lib baloney” that the magazine advocates. Referring to their readers as Foxy Ladies (also a name used for baby groupies), Star never undermined their pheromone-ridden teen readers, and featured plenty of pictures of a young Mick Jagger, alongside comic strips of fantasy scenarios, for example where a fan dresses up as glam rock icon Marc Bolan to get backstage. With five printed issues painstakingly collected and digitalized, you can access the whole archive here.
What do you believe is the number one thing that musicians are doing to ruin their chances at succeeding in the music industry? Is it: not practicing their instrument enough? Not putting together enough good music industry connections? Living in a city with no music scene? The answer to all of this is NO – none of these things. There can be countless reasons why a musician would fail to make it in the music industry, but the things above are merely symptoms of a deeper cause. In reality, the most common reason why musicians never succeed in this business is they have a FEAR based mindset.
The majority of musicians allow their fears to ruin their chances for succeeding in music. Some of these fears are understood consciously while others are only identifiable to someone who is looking for them.
Unfortunately, whether you are aware of them or not, your fears can be very devastating to your music career. As one who mentors musicians on how to build a successful music career, I’ve observed this endless times.
The following are some of the frequent fears that devastate musicians’ chances for becoming successful and how to overcome them so that you can quickly move your music career forward:
Musician Fear #1: Fear Of Not Making Any Money
Anytime you have told your friends or family that you want to become a professional musician, what have they told you? Probably something like this:
*»You’ve got to get a safe job first in order to have a solid backup plan for your music career.»
*»Musicians can’t make a good living»
*»All musicians have to play street corners for change just to get by»
In most cases you are told these things out of the best intentions… However, these ideas are highly misguided. Truth is, it’s not as hard as you might think to earn a good living in the music industry if you know specifically what to do to make money as a pro musician (and actually DO it). With this in mind, it’s exactly because the above false beliefs about the music industry are so wide spread, that they cause many musicians to fear not being able to make money. They then do things that lead to the exact OPPOSITE of what is needed to earn a good living.
The following is how trying ‘not’ to run into financial struggles in the music industry causes you to have difficulty making good money as a musician:
*You never make the effort to earn a lot more money in your music career. The worst thing you can possibly do is expect that you’ll struggle to make money as a musician. It’s certain that when you do this, you begin to live into the world you’ve created for yourself in your mind.
*You take your music career in the WRONG direction. By expecting failure in terms of making good money, many musicians start thinking they’ll be better off going to college to get a degree in a non-musical field, working at a «secure» job and THEN going after their music career dreams in their spare time. In the end, they almost always end up failing with this approach.
*You eat the goose that lays golden eggs. Note: What is written below could seem like «self-promotion,» since I mention how I mentor musicians as an illustration of a critical point. Of course, there is a very important lesson for you to learn here, and my words are true regardless of whether I am selling something or not. The lesson for you here illustrates how merely being AFRAID of becoming broke causes you to forever remain broke as a musician, until you make a significant change.
I occasionally receive messages from musicians who initially hesitated to join my music career training program or attend my music career money making event (where I show musicians how to easily make tons of money), because they are under the impression that they «cannot afford it.» Even after I take them through the overwhelming proof for how my programs have given HUGE results to the musicians I’ve worked with, they still remain skeptical and fearful. This skepticism comes from the same false narratives described above – that all musicians will inevitably become broke and struggle, so there is no point in pursuing a music career. Ironically, by attempting to «save» a few bucks in the moment and passing on the training (that is PROVEN to get results) on how to develop a lucrative music career, you are ensuring that you will never make a big income with music. This is referred to as «eating the goose that lays golden eggs» because you decide to eat the goose now rather than wait for golden eggs to appear later. Rather than learning how to earn money in your music career and building toward the future, you give in to your fear… guaranteeing that you will never make progress to move your career to a higher level.
How To Keep This Fear From De-railing Your Music Career:
1. Know that the belief that all musicians struggle to make money isn’t true and it certainly does not have to be your reality. This realization alone will keep you from letting fear steer your music career away from the things you really want.
2. Instead of being preoccupied with thoughts of how hard it will be to make money in music, take action to learn more about how to BECOME financially successful as a musician. There is a clear (and rudimentary) difference between these 2 mindsets and the ends that each one leads to are complete opposites.
Musician Fear #2: Fear Of Not Succeeding In Your Music Career
Too many musicians mess up their music careers by fearing that:
*They aren’t young enough to have a music career
*They don’t have enough talent to make it in music
*They don’t live in a big enough music city
*They don’t have a university degree in a musical field
*Their musical style is not well known where they live
*There are not enough serious musicians where they live who they can work with
*If they fail, they will look dumb in front of all the people who they told about their musical dreams (friends, family, etc.)
Besides the numerous reasons why these fears are irrational, know the following:
1. What you believe becomes your reality. If you think you have a good excuse for why you simply can’t become a successful musician (such as any of the things above), you will rationalize it and use it as a way to avoid advancing your music career. When you do this, you are GUARANTEED to fail at breaking into the music business. The other side of the coin is also true: if you believe that you are definitely going to become successful, and you are the master of your destiny, you will find a way to do whatever needs to get done to reach your goals. It’s clear that the latter mindset has a massively higher rate of success (both in the music business and in everyday life).
2. If you don’t even attempt to grow a successful music career – you have failed. Even worse than this guarantee of 100% failure, is you are going to regret not taking action to do what you dreamed of with music when you look back at all the opportunities you missed.
Musician Fear #3: Fear Of Becoming Successful In Your Music Career
Does it sound ridiculous to be afraid of becoming successful? It’s not. While the above fear of «failure» is a frequent occurrence for musicians who are new to the music industry, the fear of «becoming successful» is common for more seasoned musicians who are close to making a major breakthrough in their music careers.
These musicians can easily self-destruct by worrying about how their lives will be different when they become successful, how others will view them, how difficult it will be to continue their success or believing below the surface that they do not truly «deserve» to be successful. This causes many musicians begin to intentionally sabotage themselves by NOT doing things they know are in their own best interest (such as joining bands, going on tour or getting the training that they know they need that will build their career).
How To Not Let Fear Of Failure (Or Success) De-rail Your Music Career:
1. Understand that all the things you tell yourself about why you can’t have a music career in your specific scenario are just stories you make up. You have MASSIVE potential for success as a musician (much more than you realize), regardless of how old you are, what your current musical background is or the location where you live.
2. Think like highly successful musicians think. As I explained already, there is a basic difference between «playing to WIN» (in your music career) vs. playing «not to lose». Successful musicians play to win and they do not focus on «avoiding fear» – they focus on «achieving success»… and this is what you must do as well.
3. Stack the deck of cards in your favor. You will drastically raise your odds of success in the music business (and beat your fear of failure), once you begin navigating the music industry without a blindfold on. Instead, quickly make progress by getting trained by a music career success mentor who has already helped many musicians achieve success in their music careers.
Musician Fear #4: Fear Of Being Treated Unfairly By Music Companies, Promoters And Other Industry Executives
The music industry is filled with long winded stories from (failed) musicians who claim that someone in the music industry has lead them to fail because they forced them to sign a bad contract, refused to pay them enough money or «screwed» them in some other way. Stories like this make many musicians afraid of getting into any business deals in the music industry and sometimes keep them from even trying to pursue a music career.
Here is a big music industry secret that no one will tell you that will turn this fear into potential for achieving success:
It’s the COMPANIES who should have a fear of being taken advantage of by the MUSICIANS they work with. Fact is, most music companies are NOT out there to screw the musicians they work with. Instead, they are really HUNGRY for new talent, for «everyone wins» partnerships and for ways to best use their resources (with the help of musicians they hire) to help everyone involved prosper.
At the same time, these companies are also afraid of spending MASSIVE sums of money into musicians who:
*Are emotionally or mentally unstable
*Feel «entitled» to receive the company’s money and resources simply because they may be good musicians
*Are lazy and can’t be depended upon
*Do not help the company earn money in a way that is mutually beneficial
… and a long list of other factors.
Truth is, music companies invest tons of time, money and other resources into the musicians they work with. They have a lot more at stake than most of the musicians they work with do, so they have to be very careful about doing business with the right musicians. They are inclined to refuse to act against their own best interest by working with musicians who seem risky (as investments) or who ask for more money than they have earned.
How To Not Let This Fear De-rail Your Music Career:
Know that what you just learned is a huge inside tip into how the music business actually works and will make all the difference between success and failure. Rather than being afraid that music companies are out to screw musicians, understand that you have a great opportunity to put yourself light years ahead of the competition in the music industry. Here is what you need to do:
*Know EXACTLY what people in the music industry look for in you (this extends way beyond your musical skills).
*Gather the pieces of value you require to make yourself the best choice for the greatest music career opportunities.
*Clearly display your value to the companies you want to work with by developing a rock-solid reputation for yourself as a risk-free musician who adds value for others.
By doing this, music companies will actively seek you out to give you the opportunities that other musicians never dreamed of.
Now that you have a good understanding of what fears hold so many musicians back from developing their music careers, take mental note of your thoughts and beliefs around working in the music industry. Once you become aware of the fears that are keeping YOU back, take action to transform your mindset (utilizing the resources and tools mentioned throughout this article). When you do this, you will find that your fears dissolve away as your music career starts quickly going in the right direction.
To quickly begin building a successful music career, find a music career success mentor.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher online and a music career mentor. Tom also trains musicians on how to succeed in the music business. On his professional musician website tomhess.net you can read many more articles about making a living with a music career.
The whole point of digital music is the risk-free grazing»
Cory Doctorow, Canadian journalist and co-editor and of the off-beat blog Boing Boing, is an activist in favor of liberalizing copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. Doctorow and others continue to write prolifically about the apocalyptic changes facing Intellectual Property in general and the music industry in specific.
In this article, we will explore the cataclysm facing U.S. industry through the portal example of the music industry, a simple industry in comparison to those of automotive or energy. However, in the simplicity of this example we may uncover some lessons that apply to all industries.
In his web-article, «The Inevitable March of Recorded Music Towards Free,» Michael Arrington tells us that music CD sales continue to plummet alarmingly. «Artists like Prince and Nine Inch Nails are flouting their labels and either giving music away or telling their fans to steal it… Radiohead, which is no longer controlled by their label, Capitol Records, put their new digital album on sale on the Internet for whatever price people want to pay for it.» As many others have iterated in recent years, Arrington reminds us that unless effective legal, technical, or other artificial impediments to production can be created, «simple economic theory dictates that the price of music [must] fall to zero as more ‘competitors’ (in this case, listeners who copy) enter the market.»
Unless sovereign governments that subscribe to the Universal Copyright Convention take drastic measures, such as the proposed mandatory music tax to prop up the industry, there virtually exist no economic or legal barriers to keep the price of recorded music from falling toward zero. In response, artists and labels will probably return to focusing on other revenue streams that can, and will, be exploited. Specifically, these include live music, merchandise, and limited edition physical copies of their music.
According to author Stephen J. Dubner, «The smartest thing about the Rolling Stones under Jagger’s leadership is the band’s workmanlike, corporate approach to touring. The economics of pop music include two main revenue streams: record sales and touring profits. Record sales are a) unpredictable; and b) divided up among many parties. If you learn how to tour efficiently, meanwhile, the profits–including not only ticket sales but also corporate sponsorship, t-shirt sales, etc.,–can be staggering. You can essentially control how much you earn by adding more dates, whereas it’s hard to control how many records you sell.» («Mick Jagger, Profit Maximizer,» Freakonomics Blog, 26 July 2007).
In order to get a handle on the problems brought about by digital media in the music industry, we turn to the data most relied upon by the industry. This data comes through Neilsen SoundScan which operates a system for collecting information and tracking sales. Most relevant to the topic of this column, SoundScan provides the official method for tracking sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. The company collects data on a weekly basis and makes it available every Wednesday to subscribers from all facets of the music industry. These include executives of record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film entertainment producers and distributors, and artist management companies. Because SoundScan provides the sales data used by Billboard, the leading trade magazine, for the creation of its music charts, this role effectively makes SoundScan the official source of sales records in the music industry.
Quo vadis? According to Neilsen Soundscan, «In a fragmented media world where technology is reshaping consumer habits, music continues to be the soundtrack of our daily lives. According to Music 360 2014, Nielsen’s third annual in-depth study of the tastes, habits and preferences of U.S. music listeners, 93% of the country’s population listens to music, spending more than 25 hours each week tuning into their favorite tunes.»
For most Americans, music is the top form of entertainment. In a 2014 survey, 75% of respondents stated that they actively chose to listen to music over other media entertainment. Music is part of our lives throughout all times of the day. One fourth of music listening takes place while driving or riding in vehicles. Another 15% of our weekly music time takes place at work or while doing household chores.
It has become no surprise over the past five years that CD sales have diminished while download listening and sales have increased. Bob Runett of Poynter Online comments, «Start waving the cigarette lighters and swaying side to side–the love affair between music fans and their cell phones is getting more intense. Phones with music capabilities will account for 54 percent of handset sales globally in five years, according to a report consulting firm Strategy Analytics Inc. The report suggests that we keep watching the growth of cellular music decks (CMDs), devices that deliver excellent sound quality and focus on music more than images.» («A Few Notes About Music and Convergence,» 25 November 2014)
Stephen J. Dubner summed up the mess quite well almost a decade ago. «It strikes me as ironic that a new technology (digital music) may have accidentally forced record labels to abandon the status quo (releasing albums) and return to the past (selling singles). I sometimes think that the biggest mistake the record industry ever made was abandoning the pop single in the first place. Customers were forced to buy albums to get the one or two songs they loved; how many albums can you say that you truly love, or love even 50% of the songs–10? 20? But now the people have spoken: they want one song at a time, digitally please, maybe even free.» («What’s the Future of the Music Industry? A Freakonomics Quorum,» 20 September 2007).
Like many of us, I (Dr. Sase) also have worked as a musician/producer/engineer/indie label owner releasing esoterica since the 1960s. While occasionally made an adequate living off my music, I also developed my talents as an economist, earning a doctorate in that field. Therefore, I comment from this dual perspective of an economist/musician.
The post-future, as many music pundits call it, does not really differ that much from the past. How and why folks obtain their music continues to reflect at least three related decision drivers. We can summarize the three most relevant as 1) Content, 2) Durability, and 3) Time-Cost. Let us explain further.
When I started to record music in the early 1960s, the market was filled with «one-hit wonders.» It was the age of AM (amplitude modulation), DJ radio. It was also the age of the 45 RPM record with the hit on the A Side and usually some filler cut on the B Side. It was not uncommon for anyone with a 2-track reel-to-reel to «download» the one hit desired from their favorite radio station. There were few groups that offered entire twelve-inch LPs with mostly great songs. The first such LP that I purchased was Meet the Beatles by those four lads from Liverpool.
During the late 1960s, the industry turned more to «Greatest Hit» collections by groups that had previously turned out a string of AM hits and to «concept» albums. During this golden age of LP sales, the Beatles, the Stones, the Grateful Dead, Yes, King Crimson, and numerous other groups released albums filled with solid content. Bottom line: consumers don’t mind paying for product if they feel that they are receiving value.
Why would someone buy a twelve-inch LP when they could borrow a copy and tape record the songs to a reel-to-reel or, later on, to a compact cassette? The answers at that time were simple. First, it was «cool» to have a great album collection, especially one that a member of the opposite gender could thumb through in one’s dorm room. Let us simply say that one’s album collection could inform another party about one’s tastes and possible sub-culture and personality. Therefore, an attractive collection provided a certain degree of social currency. Might this account for the resurgence of
vinyl in recent years?
The second part of the equation came in the form of actual product durability. Like current downloads, self-recorded reel-to-reel and cassette tapes generally suffered from some loss of fidelity in the transition. More importantly, the integrity and permanence of the media also left something to be desired. Thirty to forty years ago, tape would flake, break, and tangle around the capston. Unless one backed up their collection to a second-generation tape, many of one’s favorite tunes could be lost.
Today, computer hard drives crash. Without the expense of an additional hard drive and the time involved to make the transfer, the same durability issues ensue. What about CDs? As most of us who use CD-Rs for multiple purposes know, the technology that instantly burns an image leaves a product that remains more delicate and subject to damage in comparison to a commercially fabricated CD, stamped from a metal master. Will the Internet clouds provide the same level of comfort for music producers and listeners? We will just have to wait and see.
This third element basically reflects the old «tape is running/time-is-money» economic argument and may explain why younger music-listeners prefer to download songs either legally or illegally. It echoes the same economics that led listeners in the 1960s to record their favorite hits off of the radio. The substance of the argument has to do with how an individual values his/her time. If music-lovers works for a low hourly wage (or often no income at all), they will value the time spent downloading, backing up, and transferring cuts in terms of what they could be earning during the same time.
Let us consider the following example. Assuming that twelve downloads or a comparable CD costs $12.00, a baby-sitter earning $6 per hour could afford to spend as much as two hours of time ripping music to achieve the same value. However, someone with a skilled trade or a college degree may be earning $24.00 or more per hour. Spending more than one half hour at ripping would exceed the value derived. The counter-argument of the time-cost of travelling to a brick-and-mortar music store gets offset by a person’s ability to log-on to Amazon or elsewhere in less than a minute and possibly receive free shipping. The market will always change as the primary market demographic ages. It happened with the Baby-Boomers of the 1960s and 1970s and it will happen with Generation X, Y and Z in the current century.
The bottom line of all of this debate rests in the fact that a consumer will choose the mode of deliverable that optimizes his/her bundle of values. This bundle includes quality and quantity of content, durability, and time-cost effectiveness. These remain the lessons that music makers and music deliverers must understand to survive. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
«When I’m drivin’ in my car, And that man comes on the radio, He’s tellin’ me more and more, About some useless information, Supposed to fire my imagination, I can’t get no, oh no, no, no.» -Michael Philip Jagger, British Economist, London School of Economics
In conclusion, we recognize that certain values motivate consumers as well as businesses. These values include content, durability, and time cost. It does not matter whether the good or service under consideration exists in the form of real, personal, or intellectual property. The premise remains the same for making music, building automobiles, teaching economics, and providing legal services.
The British economist Adam Smith summarized this phenomenon 229 years ago in his concept of an invisible hand at work in the marketplace. In effect, markets work because all market participants seek to optimize their own self interests. As long as both parties involved in a transaction perceive that they will emerge better off after consummating the transaction, they will participate. If one (or both parties) does not share this perception, no music, automobile, education, nor legal services will change hands. In effect, the market fails to produce a satisfactory outcome.
The package was recorded in Liverpool on the Acolyte to Wolflight With Genesis Revisited Tour.
Steve Packett is set to release of a brand new double live album and DVD this summer.
Titled ‘The Total Experience Live In Liverpool’, the 2CD/2DVD deluxe package and stand-a-lone Blu-Ray was recorded on StevIe’s Acolyte to Wolflight With Genesis Revisited Tour in 2015 at the Liverpool Philharmonic.
“When Inside Out told me that I could film a gig on the British leg of the 2015 tour for release, I thought that we should do it away from London (and) I felt doing it in Liverpool had a certain ring to it,” says Steve.
“This is an extraordinary city and the Philharmonic Hall is an extraordinary venue. Besides, it’s not as if Liverpool is known for having any good music – there’s never been a good band from there. Ha!”
The tour celebrated the 40th anniversary of his debut solo album ‘Voyage Of The Acolyte’ and boasted two sets – one focusing on his solo career and the other containing a host of Genesis classics.