Nowadays it seems to be an important question, which you should probably ask successful musicians, especially if you are a student or think that it is a good moment to start your musical career. Unfortunately, I need to tell you, that the answer could surprise you, because there is no recipe for that. Generally, accomplished musicians attribute their success to a combination of talent, luck, hard work, and the help of a few key mentors. 1 In life, there is so much we can’t control, we should go according to our passion and intuition. Musicians’ lives are full of projects (sometimes unexpected), such as performing with various ensembles, recordings, grants projects with defined repertoire, research in the framework of projects, fellowships, residencies and much more. We can say that the career is a natural effect of the choices, which we make every day through the people we meet.
How to start thinking about a career?
Life is a result of various circumstances, but to feel that you have control, it is important to prepare a career plan with clear goals. This will motivate you to achieve success. Remember to set the long-term and short-term goals. Prepare a list of repertoires, which you would like to perform – find festivals, concert venues, chamber music groups, and additional studies.
Secondly, prepare your image, biography, professional photos, recommendation letters, internet page or demo – which would be a helpful tool. From my point of view, a well-written biography is especially important, because it is a “first meeting” with your potential employer.
How to write a good biography?
Biographies make a first impression about an artist, so it should contain the most important information such as highlight performances with particular concert halls, special repertoire, interesting projects, influential people with whom you performed, awards, and education. It is worth supporting the facts with specific numbers or details, e.g., Mr. X won the first prize in the XXX International Music Competition in Poland. or Mr. X is a laureate more than 10 prizes such us: first prize in the XXX International Music Competition in Poland. etc. Before you start writing, make a list of your achievements, then divide it into groups (like projects, concerts, awards etc.) and choose a few the most important. Remember, that the biography should be representative of not only your accomplishments, but also of who you are as a musician.
Developing your music career is a long process, including two basic directions of the career: traditional or entrepreneurial. Sometimes you have a chance to have a tenured position in an orchestra or as a professor in a university. Sometimes you work several part-time jobs, perform as a freelancer, take part in different projects, and teach in different music schools. Combining the full range of your musical talent and abilities can make for a fulfilling career.
If you are not sure what is your path in the music industry, try to explore and test yourself by seeing what you like and what you don’t like. Only repeated experimentation will allow you to find your place and niche. Remember that your success it is not only your talent, but also your motivation and determination to achieve.