M. R. Taylor
A music business book for the classical musician? Is that some sort of oxymoron? Imagine my amazement upon finding this absolute gem while browsing in the BYU bookstore's small music section. I've never seen a book with this focus before, and had no reason to hope for one. This book descended on me out of the blue, almost like a revelation.
In the "prelude" Ms. Beeching gives her "confessions" as a career counselor. First she expounds on the "truth about career paths" : there really is no such thing as a laid out path for any musician (classical or pop) that will lead them to enduring success. She then offers "five trade secrets" of her profession:
Look for the light in the eyes (what make you light up when talking?)
People often create their own obstacles
The first steps are most important
You already have the answers
People move ahead when they're good and ready, and not a moment sooner
This is essentially a book about being a self-starter and taking things into your own hands rather than waiting for "them" to discover you. The book gives numerous tools for doing so. It covers qualities you must develop to "make it" as a musician, networking skills, developing your image (letterhead, bios, photos, promo kits, etc.), expanding your impact with demos and CDs, using the internet to promote your career, booking performance like a pro, building your audience (the media, publicity and you), connecting with audiences through residencies and community programming, performing at your best, freelancing - managing yourself, raising money for music projects (yes, you too can fund-raise), and getting it all together.
I am currently re-reading the book as there is so much information it will take a while to digest it all and even more time to implement it. The good news is, there are things you can do to promote your classical career and be a success.
If there is one drawback to this book, it is that I wish it contained more specifics on one of my main specialities, composition. There is some info for composers and composers will find the book of immense value, but the book is definitely slanted toward performers. The thing that almost negates this drawback is that Ms. Beeching states several times the need for performers to work with composers, newer repertoire or find some other niche in order to distinguish themselves from the mass of people already performing the standard repertoire. Sound advice.
M. Ryan Taylor is a composer vocalist working out of American Fork, Utah. h t t p : / / M R y a n T a y l o r . c o m
A little while ago I reviewed a strangely titled book called "Making Music in Looking Glass Land" by Ellen Highstein. A labour of love, this book became the seminal "text book" for the classical musician and, now it its fourth edition, is still the book I would recommend to any musician either starting out on their career or working actively in the industry. However, this year an equally good, authoritative and comprehensive book has been published that aims to equip the classical musician with the tools and techniques required to make a success in this career.
Angela Beeching, an author who has gained a tremendous amount of experience through her work as the director of career services at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston brings to this book real life problems and practical solutions that can help any and all musicians. Staring off by talking about the entrepreneurial musician, Beeching embeds in the mind of the reader the thought that success in this profession is up to you, the musician, and no one else. The characteristics a musician needs, Beeching writes, include "flexibility, resiliency and the ability to find opportunities in the midst of difficulties or challenges". It is from this position that she then moves the reader onto some of the key soft skills required to run your career such as the art of networking (or "Schmoozing for Success" as she puts it), time management, dealing with performance anxiety and the fundamental questions of what you, as a musician, actually do. However, it is the practical advice that really sets this book apart.
Each chapter deals with a different topic including information about creating promotional material (brochures, biographies, etc.), recording demo CDs, using the internet to promote and advance your career, securing performance opportunities, raising funds, tax (although this is geared towards the American market), writing letters and press releases, publicity photographs, contracts, setting up and running residency or community education projects and on and on. For a relatively short book, Beeching manages to cover a lot of ground without being too detailed nor too information light. Each section is liberally peppered with real-life examples, case studies, handy tips and checklists in order to provide a complete start-to-finish tutor covering all of these vital subjects.
All too often I have reviewed similar books in these pages with the recurring caveat that, while they are useful, they are very much aimed at the non-classical musician. Here, in Beeching's volume, we have a useful and informative book that is aimed solely and directly at the classical musician. Buy it now!
A few years back, Angela Beeching (my dear colleague at New England Conservatory down the road) wrote a "Career Guide for Musicians". I was very impressed at how resourceful the guide was. Well, she finally got the chance to flesh out that first guide and "Beyond Talent" is the result. While ably covering all the nut & bolts of music career success (networking, building your image, recording, performing and raising support), the chief value of the book lies in the wisdom Beeching brings to creative career development. She understands the psychological profile of the career musician and that understanding shines through every page of her book.
In addition, Beeching tackles lesser-explored subjects geared to her primary readership of classical and jazz musicians: residency programs, performance health, teaching and grant opportunities. Up to date and immensely practical, Beyond Talent should be on the bookshelf of all career musicians.
Harriet L. Schwartz
Angela Beeching's "Beyond Talent" is a must-have book for musicians -- both young musicians who aspire to a career, and working musicians who wish to be more successful. Full of practical advice, "Beyond Talent" gives step-by-step strategies for important aspects of building a career in music, covering topics like networking, promotions, and building and connecting with audiences. "Beyond Talent" also includes samples of bios, press releases, and other documents that are vital to the working musician. Beeching knows her stuff and writes with depth, and at the same time, her writing is accessible and inspirational. This book is a terrific companion for young and established musicians alike!
The Music Transcriber
Let me give a little background so you guys can understand where I am coming from:
I am a music business owner here in NYC, running a successful music preparation company. Just like the Beyond Talent mentions, successful musicians do more than just one thing; my company provides sheet music preparation, audio production, and music software development. After having built this business from the ground up over the last 7 years I've had to learn almost everything on my own. I learned how to learn better :) There are a million music transcribers, composers, engravers, recording artists, etc., etc., here in NYC and I quickly had to distinguish myself from the rest of them. I quickly took to business principals and decided to never sleep again. Things started to work out for me, but oh how I wish I had some guidance in the beginning.
Long story short, starting a career in music is the hardest thing I have ever done. Now that I am a bit more comfortable with my career I want to become more and more successful, but there always seems to be roadblocks. When I picked up Beyond Talent, I thought, this is probably all stuff that I know, and, in truth, I did know a lot of the mentality behind the book. But I wanted to read some good advice to boost my business and continue to push myself in the right direction.
Sorry to get back to myself, but I usually only read technical literature so I had no idea how this book would find me. So, I picked it up one day when I was riding my exercise bike and I ended up not putting it down for 2 hours, I totally forgot about the pain of the workout and just rode towards a better career. It was one of the fastest reads I have ever had, probably because I felt like every chapter I progressed through was going to make me more successful if I really absorbed what it was saying. Everything was really direct, and even the things I already knew were presented to me in a fresh manner. And, to be honest, hearing important things twice is really necessary, some things that I knew I had totally neglected to implement in my recent professional life: I now will. I also loved the examples (real world examples, thanks gosh!) and it spurred me to even contact a few of the people mentioned in the book.
I have very little free time in my pursuit of music success, but finding the time to read this book was both easy (since it was so enjoyable!!!) and so very worth it. I'd recommend it for yourself if you plan on making music your life, or if you have a musician in your life, help them out and enrich their career with the gift of this text.