CONSIDERING the role of music in informing, educating and entertaining the masses; and how such a career can contribute to promoting our culture, job creation and poverty reduction, it is important to share how best one can be successful in music career.
This doesn’t mean that only those who want to choose music as a career should read this article. Anyone who has a son, daughter, brother, sister, nephew, niece; or anyone who wants to contribute to successful career choice should read this article so that one can guide other people who to be successful musicians.
Reflecting on many socio-cultural, economic, political and legal opportunities and challenges our society faces, music can play a critical role in socio-cultural, economic, political and legal development processes in our country.
Moreover, music is one of the most exciting, rewarding and challenging careers which has helped some people earn a good living out of it.
This means that, like mining, agriculture, tourism or street vending, music is another sector which can contribute to job creation and poverty alleviation in our country.
With such a background, one can realise that choosing music as a career is like choosing any other career. One has to consider many factors; and do certain things for one to be successful in such a career.
Contrary to what we mostly see in our country, music as a career needs personal organisation and enough preparation before one goes into such a career.
The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the factors to consider in choosing music as a career. This article was conceptualized after seeing most young Zambians scrounging for music as a career; but not considering some of the factors that can help them succeed in such a career. But because music and radio broadcasts, in most cases, go hand-in-hand, this article has also considered what Elvis Zuma observed in his article ‘Current state of radio and music in Zambia which appeared in Post Newspaper on March 7,2014; page IV.
Elvis article revealed a number of things that negatively affect our Zambian musicians.
Low esteem in our musicians is because of low educational backgrounds and inadequate knowledge on what they try to communicate to the audience.
As society you want to communicate to becomes more socially, culturally, economically, politically and legally complex, it is important to have sound formal educational achievements. This will help you to research adequately on social fabric, opportunities and challenges that the same society has and the challenges it faces.
Therefore, sound research on opportunities and challenges society is facing is a fertile ground for one to compose a good music. Successful artists elsewhere like in Nigeria have sound formal educational achievements.
One should also reflect on one’s personality and background. Have you ever participated in singing in church choir, traditional dance or any other form of singing before?
Do you have a good voice? What is a good voice for music? Are you observant and attentive to what is happening and being said or reported in society respectively?
Are you analytical to what you see and hear? Do you read widely? Are you creative enough? Are you naturally interested in music?
Don’t choose music as a career just because you have nothing to do on Earth.
Music as a career considers many factors before one can go into it.
If one is good at some of the factors stated above, then one can be a good musician. This is because one should have basic qualities before one jumps into a certain career.
With basic qualities in place, it is easy to develop those qualities into full fledged skill in that field.
One is also supposed to ask parents, friends, relatives and anyone who knows you about whether you can make a good musician or not. Try to sing in front of parents, sisters, brothers, friends or in front of a family or a group of people.
Ask them for their views in your desire to choose music as a career.
Among the socio-cultural, economic, political and legal sectors, which one (s) are you interested in where you can compose good music? Levels of knowledge and experience is such field (s) can contribute to your success or failure in your music.
When you want to choose music as a career, tell yourself that you want to be successful in your music career.
To be successful in your music career, you must practice; and practice regularly on the genre of music you want to compose. Always have a feeling of being a successful musician.
This demands a lot of enthusiasm, persistence and patience before one goes onto music market.
It also demands a lot of consultations with and feedback from different groups of people; including those who have been in the music industry before to guide and advise you on how best to proceed with your music career; and on specific songs.
This is also part of test marketing each song you compose. This is where most of our young upcoming musicians have challenges. As a result, most of their songs and respective singers don’t last long on the music market.
As Elvis Zuma correctly observed, when one listens to most types of music played on radio stations in Zambia, even one who has no talent or interest in music can go to the studio and record any piece of music; being assured that if that type of a certain music was played on a certain radio station; even my music will also be played on any radio station.
This implies that what radio or television stations allow to be played on their respective stations also have a bearing on the caliber of musicians; and therefore what type and quality of music a country has.
For a piece of music to survive on a market, it should serve a specific purpose. It should facilitate exploitation of opportunities or address certain challenges in a given society.
Music should also be in tandem with local culture, morals, values, practices and aspirations at a given time.
Look at how The Sakala Brothers have stood the test of time with their music career. We can also look back at late Nachel Pitchen Kazembe, late Paul Ngozi, late Ackim Simukonda, The Emmanuel Mulemena Boys and many others.
Good musicians take time to think through what type of message they want to communicate to the audience; and why before they composed any song.
Moreover, good music should be original. It must be new in its kind. To be original, music should have creativity.
It should be different from what others have done before. Some types of music are just ‘photocopies’ of some music someone sang recently or some years ago.
To succeed further in music as a career, one is supposed to invest in relevant knowledge. Going further in formal education is a good investment in developing your career in music.
One can argue that most former musicians weren’t formerly educated; and why should one talk about investing in formal education to succeed in music as a career?
Music consumer tastes change with time and situations. Yesterday’s music consumers and their tastes might not be today’s music consumers.
Therefore, a certain level of formal education might help you understand current socio-cultural, economic, political and legal dynamics of your society which can help you to strategically and tactfully include in your music for it to be accepted in that society.
This is how music for musicians such as Lucky Dube, Kenny Rogers, Don Williams, Jim Reeves, Jim Cliff, Judy Butcher, Dolly Paton, Bob Marley and others have stood the test of time.
With certain levels of knowledge, one will also realise the importance of investing in relevant equipment for one’s music career.
Relevant equipment in music will help you to practice at a low cost. It will also help you to transform you music career into a professional one. With proper investment in music equipment, one can latter create one’s own professional music studio where to perfect each music one composes.
Later on, such a approach to choosing music as a career can lead one to teaching others on how to be a good musician. Eventually, your career as a musician can help you to establish and develop a music academy where you can effectively teach many other people who want to choose music as a career. One can transform one’s music career into training entrepreneurship.
You can start small; but with a vision, enthusiasm, patience, endurance and persistence, grow and glow big to the amazement of many people.
Therefore, those who want to join music as a career shouldn’t rush for recording any music they dreamt of last night. Considers such and many other factors.
If you take relevant steps in choosing music as a career, you will find that music a noble career which is exciting and with many benefits not only to a respective musician but also to society.
Such an approach in choosing music as a career can make many young and old citizens of this country benefit a lot from music as a career. Such a situation can later contribute to genuine job creation and poverty reduction in our country.
(The author is trainer and carrer coach)
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