Over the last few years, we have consciously made an effort to include new, young talented musicians and singers into the projects we do here at Cranky Music. Some have done extremely well while there have been a few who, shall I say, failed to impress.
Fortunately (or unfortunately?) a lot of the projects we do, whether they be studio or ‘live’ productions, are often rather ‘high profile’ with very little room for errors. For example, two of the live concerts we did last year were recorded for album release and another two were for international Heads of States. So as you would imagine the pressure can be a little intimidating even if you’ve been in the industry for some time. But since one of our goals here at Cranky Music is to develop and introduce new blood into the music scene, we go ahead and do it anyway albeit with a dose of caution thrown in. In this industry you are only as good as your last project.
Here’s what I’ve observed about the ones who thrive and do well.
They Come Prepared
Without exception, this is probably the one quality that all who did well possessed. They all did their homework prior to the very first recording/rehearsal. All of them already worked out their parts, prepared to the best of their ability and performed what was expected of them. When people do their homework, all that was needed was to tweak it here and there to make the music a little better. I even know of a few musicians who called their older friends who had worked with us to find out what rehearsal was like; so they knew beforehand what to expect in terms of pace, communication and our customary style of work.
They Learn the Material
This one’s almost the same as the point above except that it pertains more to the music at hand. As much as most of these young musicians are skilled, some of them might not be too familiar with a particular artiste’s repertoire or music genre. You would then really need to know the songs and the melodies beforehand. Contrary to what many might think, rehearsal is NOT the place where you learn the music. It’s where we polish what we already know. You learn your parts at home! Nuff said!!
They Mark Their Music
Another good practice of competent young musicians is the habit of marking whatever changes we work out during rehearsals. Stuff like changed chords, transpositions, added repeats, deleted bars and ‘where not to play’ are better noted on the music. With all the things that go on during a live concert, one would be hard-pressed to recall every single change that was made at rehearsal. Plus the fact that often we have up to thirty songs to do in a span of 3 days, so unless you have an elephant’s memory…
Personality Matters. Get Along or Learn How to Play Nice
When a band works on a project, we spend quite a bit of time together… more so if we’re rehearsing for TV shows or going on tour. A typical TV shoot would involve more offstage waiting time than actually playing music. So everyone has really got to get along with each other. I recall an instance when we had a 2-week TV recording stint and by the 2nd or 3rd day, this ‘new guy’ was already getting on the nerves of the rest of the band. Certainly not a nice situation to be in!
I suppose all these ‘tips’ would come to naught if you never got ‘the call’ in the first place, right? Well the best way to get noticed is to work on your craft. Period! I’ll say one thing about all the young musicians and singers who have walked through the doors of our studio… they have ALL paid (and still paying) their dues. They have been practicing a lot, and it shows. I don’t think we’ve hired anyone based on anything but hearing them play. So to all you young musicians, get out there and PLAY.
One last thing! Forget what people say about it being a monopoly among the ‘established musicians’. If you’re good enough, you will be heard soon enough. However, the opposite also applies! So if you haven’t got ‘the call’, just work harder!
[Pic at the top (from left to right): Jae Sern, Fly, Joel, Aubrey, Derrick & Steve. This was Derrick & Joel’s first gig with the Cranky Music band]