1) TINA , YOU WERE IN EUROPE RECENTLY WHERE YOU TOURED WITH HANS ZIMMER. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH HANS AND THE TOUR?
The tour was amazing and a lot of fun! Hans and his team took great care of everyone and it was honestly the most efficient and well run tour I’ve ever been on. Hans is very generous energetically and really featured all of the musicians on stage which we were all grateful for. It was incredible to see how huge and enthusiastic of an audience he has around the world! The roar of the crowd really confirmed his rockstar status, and I’m just grateful to have been able to join in on the ride! Hans is a living legend and such a nice person- it was fun to get to know him and the rest of the family better. After being around each other 24 hours a day for a month, you start getting really comfortable. In addition to countless reasons to be grateful for the Hans Zimmer Live experience, a major label came to the opening night at Wembley and offered me a solo record deal the next day. We’ve been negotiating for a few months now and are finally reaching the finish line with the newest contract being worked on by lawyers right now! I start recording the first album in a few weeks and I’m SO grateful for the opportunity and platform that performing with Hans has given me.
2) YOU RECORD FOR NUMEROUS FILM/TV/GAMES COMPOSERS. BESIDES YOUR MUSICIANSHIP, WHAT ELSE DO YOU BRING TO THE TABLE THAT MAKES YOU SO SOUGHT AFTER?
I think that it’s important to build a brand and find a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. It could be technical skill, unique style/sound, your look, your personality, a combination of all of that and anything really. Our industry is oversaturated, as is every other, and I feel that sometimes it’s easy to seek outwards. Personally however, I think it’s a good idea to focus inward. The more we can build our own music and our own product, the more likely that others on the outside will become curious. I spoke about this at the SCL Panel Richard put together- the “dangle the carrot” method where instead of asking for things or seeking things, I try to make my own “carrot” as interesting as possible so bunnies will want to check it out. The more they see other bunnies crowding around the carrot, the more other bunnies want to join in. I know this is a ridiculous analogy, but hopefully it makes sense. Don’t be desperately force-feeding your carrot to people, shoving it in their faces! Do you own thing and be creative and expressive, and let that bring the energy towards you. Again, this is only what works for me- for others different methods may work to their advantage! I’m all for individual assessment of what makes sense for their particular situation.
As far as what I personally bring to the table- I have no idea! haha! Honestly, I think being a female definitely helps. Especially in the beginning stages of building a career, and for simply getting attention, being a female/young female (at least young when I started a decade ago!) helps. I have heard complaints form sone that many women musicians get hired for gigs only based on their looks- and yes this is very true! I myself have gotten hired for many sidelining/on camera gigs in the past not for how I play but only for what I look like. I know that can be frustrating to some musicians who’s “look” may not get called often for these types of jobs, but keep in mind that’s a very short-term temporary thing. Looks always fade. It’s best to focus on building a career with longevity in mind and doing everything we can on finding what’s unique about ourselves and what we want to personally express artistically.
I would like to think that I’ve been able to build a career over the last 10 years with my musical skill and business practice. I think it’s also important to be kind, polite, and always treat every person with respect. Not speaking too much especially in the studio and maintaining a professional demeanor is important- a balance of being friendly but not wasting time and getting as much recorded as possible, as quickly as possible. I also try to be directly accessible, and alway reply immediately to emails, phone calls, FB messages (many business transactions have happened through FB messenger!) I think also being able to play in different styles and improvise has helped me build a career since the more services we can offer, the larger our client base. Being a free agent and open to negotiations on budgets and terms depending on each project is important, and I’d like to think my actual playing contributes also.
I think that also, being a solo artist that performs and tours with my own music and with others helps visibility, as the stronger your brand is, the more it helps you on all sides of your career. Again, that’s the shiny carrot thing. 🙂
3) WHY DO YOU THINK HAVING A STRONG ONLINE PRESENCE IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR MUSICIANS SUCH AS YOURSELF?
I think everybody probably knows this already, but the internet is the #1 place for connection and interaction! I don’t go out much and most of my interaction is done online. I’ve had so many amazing opportunities arise from Facebook directly. Earlier this year I toured with Joe Bonamassa, who’s producer saw one of my music videos on Facebook. I’ve also gotten other tour offers including Cirque du Soleil who offered me a position on 3 different shows after seeing my music videos on YouTube. Putting material online is the best way to reach a large, infinite number of people. I also met my husband (and most of my ex-boyfriends, haha) on Facebook… maybe a couple back on Myspace in those days!
4) YOU THRIVE IN A MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING FEMALE MUSICIANS?
In my experience, I actually don’t agree that it’s harder for women- I would argue that it’s even easier in a way because it’s a “unique” thing since it is such a male dominated industry. If a man and a woman played in the exact same way, or wrote the exact same music, who would get the gig? I guess that would depend on the situation and the person hiring, but again I can only speak from my own experience. For me, I for sure think especially with musicians, females do get some benefits that males may not when it comes to getting jobs. Don’t kill the messenger please, girls! I feel that women have the advantage of our femininity, which can get us attention right off the bat that men wouldn’t. However, in the end it’s the product that speaks. I don’t think I’m an expert on this and should be giving advice to all women since every single one of us is a unique being.
As far as advice for female musicians- I think it’s important to be firm in business. I’m my usual dorky self in real life and in interactions, but when it comes down to negotiating contracts or talking about money, I go into a different mode. I’ve met some women who have told me that they feel embarrassed or shy to talk about money but that’s something easy to get over with practice. Finding that balance of being professional but not overly harsh/cold is one that’s unique to each person, but overall if we take ourselves seriously, others will take us seriously.
5) WHAT ARE SOME INCOME STREAMS THAT MODERN ARTISTS CAN TAP INTO, IN ORDER TO MAKE A LIVING WITH MUSIC?
There are so many different income streams which is really exciting! My other loves next to music are Eating and Making Money, haha. Here are some things that I do to monetize my art:
1. Putting music up on YouTube, registering with AdRev to capture monetization income from others who use your music in their videos
2. Creating sample libraries and loops, be sure to try to negotiate a percentage for residual income.
3. Releasing music for sale digitally
4. Performing- Classical Concertos, as a Guest with other Groups and Artists, Corporate Entertainment/Events, Public Speaking/Performances.
5. Session Work for Composers/Bands/Artists. For me it’s been helpful to be Fi-core and be able to work both union and non-union and negotiate fair rates for each situation. This may not be the right move for everyone though, and I recommend you speak to your colleagues about this before making big decisions. I focus mainly on solo work and this is a different market than those who do orchestral sessions, etc.
6. Playing with other musical acts in local shows.
7. Taking advantage of Patreon if you have a fanbase that has a desire to support your work. You can start small and build- for me it really helped to help finance my self-released music videos which I put out once a month in 2015.
8. Compose music for Film/TV- I’ve been lucky to have written music for a couple small film projects, composed additional music on features, and as a musician if you end up contributing significantly/writing music on projects I’d recommend trying to negotiate for cue sheet, etc. Again this is on a case by case basis.
9. Licensing- I released an album through Liquid Cinema/APM and the songs on that album have been licensed for a lot stuff in the past couple years- including WWE, NHL, Ferrari, National Geographic, Fox Sports, Mercedes, and a movie Trailer. It’s a great source of residual income and music that you write just for the art can be placed into projects instead of just sitting in your hard drives.
10. Teaching- you can teach private lessons in person or online, conduct masterclasses and clinics
In addition to directly music related income, I think everyone should look into different investment strategies. Through Lending Club, which is a peer to peer lending platform, I’ve made a solid 7% return for the last 5 years. My stocks haven’t done as well short term but as a long term investment they should pay off- and maybe with better luck that’s also a great way to make money with your money.
However, the most important thing about income is saving. It doesn’t matter what you make if you spend all of it! I’m all about saving money and Parsimonious is my favorite word 😛
I’d recommend setting an automatic payment monthly (or even weekly) from your checking to a separate savings account. I started with $5 transfers monthly when that’s all that I could afford. Now I put 90% of my income into a Savings account and try to live with only using 10%.
Thank you guys! Hopefully this was a little bit useful or at least mildly entertaining to read.