Yesterday I had a talk with a young musician who is moving to Nashville.  He is 18, recently graduated high school and wants to pursue his dream.  The youthful musician part of me is a little envious and the adult mature part of me hopes that he will get in school and create a safety net.  I mentioned Belmont to him as many music industry executives teach there.  Although I have no personal experience with the school, I have only heard good things about it. He is leaving in a couple of months.

Moving to Nashville to pursue music is a big deal and many have high-tailed it home weeks after hitting town. It is not for the thin-skinned as every person playing in every club is great. Jaw dropping musicians play on street corners and if you are moving there, your talent shouldn’t be questionable. His isn’t and he will be a contender at some point in the future.

This kid is an incredible performer, excellent songwriter, charismatic and a phenomenal band leader, especially for his age. He is likeable, charming and works extremely hard. He has a catalog of songs and a work ethic that goes way beyond music.

Here is my advice to him and anyone moving there.
1.)    Be real good, I mean real good.  You have to be a great musician, great writer, great producer or a great singer or you are wasting your time. If you are a musician, learn the Nashville numbering system. There are no jacks-of-all-trades in Nashville.
2.)    Work on the non-musical parts of your career.  Understand what a good deal is, contractual language, terms, etc.  If you do get an opportunity to play, write or record, know what “fairness means”.  Sometimes we might expect more when the fees are the standard rates.  And sometimes we are offered less and we take it because we need the money.  The more you understand the business, the easier it is to understand “what is right.”
3.)    Know that you will be told “no” many more times that you will be told “yes.” Also understand that the right “yes” could be the only one you ever need.
4.)    Be prepared and ask intelligent questions. If you are meeting with a key industry figure, then research their background and make the conversation about both of you, not just you.  Ask them questions about their background and begin educating yourself about the multiple paths to success in the music industry. 
5.)    Make sure all of your materials are ready to go.  No excuses. Don’t book the meeting if you are not ready.
6.)    Be polite, decent, inquisitive, friendly and respectful of everyone you meet.  Let others brag about you. The Nashville talent line is really long and there is someone with better skills waiting for the gig. Honesty, accountability and hard work are the differentiators when the talent is equal.
7.)    Create a back-up plan.  If the music part of your career doesn’t go well, then find a job in the industry you love.

Over the years, I have met many musicians who have given Nashville a shot. I have a good feeling about this kid and am very optimistic. He will do well.
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