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7 Invaluable Tips For Music College Grads


7 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Recent Music College Grads

Copyright © 2014 By Bobby Borg

Probably the scariest thing about going to music school to become a more competent musician is graduating and having to find a paying gig. The pressure is on to start repaying those student’s loans and prove to your friends and families that you haven’t wasted the last four years of your life. While there are no sure fire tips to whisk you from being a student to celebrity, these 7 Invaluable Tips will help set you, and keep you, on course for many years to come. Pay attention. 




New technologies have made it more possible than ever for you to get discovered from virtually any part of the world. However, big cities are where the action is 24-7, and living in, or near, one is more likely to lead to networking opportunities and big auditions unavailable to small towns. 


Research the city that makes the most sense to you given your goals and then plan-out a short visit. Utilize your school’s resources (such as the alumi outreach department) to get a few numbers of people who may be willing to meet up with you and provide some advice. Attend jams sessions. Visit the local Musicians Union. Thoroughly check out the scene. Just don’t rush your decision. Once you move to a new city, you should prepare to stay there for several years. 



Whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, or somewhere else, there are countless stories about people who move to the “big city” and give themselves six months to “make it” while living on their friend’s couches. Needless to say, that is a completely unrealistic plan.  


Be prepared (both financially and mentally) to spend several years pursuing your goals. Look for work immediately to help cover your basic expenses and settle in by joining a local songwriter’s organization or networking group that will bring you a sense of belonging. 


Just remember that success won’t happen overnight, so be prepared to go the long-haul. 



While finding work to meet expenses is crucial, stay as close to the music business as you can. Look for music-related opportunities such as private instruction, music transcription for educational books, equipment sales, equipment repair, or even stage production. 


Who would have ever thought that one of my buddies would end up with a huge touring gig by setting up and moving equipment for SIR studios in Los Angeles? A band was holding auditions there one night and his boss and the music director were cool with him giving it a shot. He nailed the audition and his career took off from there. Moving gear wasn’t fun, but it paid off.



Remember that the majority of the work you do will be based on word-of-mouth recommendations. The genuine relationships you form today, can lead to the gigs of tomorrow.


After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, I got hired to play weddings by my former teachers with whom I kept in touch. Within one year, I got hired onto my first pro session in New York City by two college buddies that I would contact all the time—this gig led to my joining a band on Atlantic Records. Bingo! I was in!


Today, I run into friends from school all the time who are playing with some of the biggest rock groups, and working on the biggest films. We still all help each other out in small ways. Remember that connections are one of the biggest reasons why people invest in school. 



While keeping in touch with your college buds is paramount and can one day lead to work, don’t think that it’s enough to sit back and wait for the phone to ring. Be proactive. Take charge!  


If you’re a songwriter who wants to get a publishing deal and get your music placed with in commercials and games, try going directly to local businesses owners first. 


When I first graduated from school and was trying my hand at everything, some friends and I wrote a jingle for a local store and pitched it to the owner. He used it in his next radio advert! We didn’t wait for the work to come to us, we sought it out. If I can do it, so can you. 



While staying focused on your big dream is important, be open to new opportunities that might unfold. You may never know where the world takes you when you are open to its possibilities. 


Says Loudon Stearns, Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music, "I rarely meet a person who is doing exactly what they planned on doing when they got out of school. Just look at me, I planned on being a film composer and ended up being a very happy college professor.”


Remember that the more experiences you have and the more people you meet, the more doors are left open for you to find a happy, healthy, sustainable life. 



And finally, while on the topic of living a happy, healthy, and sustainable life, learn not to take yourself too seriously. Have a little fun in your endeavors. Lighten up! Smile! You’ll project a much more confident and positive attitude. You’ll be less stressed-out and more approachable. This is the entertainment industry—how can you expect to entertain others if you can’t entertain yourself? 


Don’t waste valuable energy being hateful, envious, or jealous of others’ successes, and never associate with those who can infect you with negativity. Stay positive! Believe that one day you, too, will get your big break. 


Just keep in mind that big record contract that so many young artists covet is not the key to happiness; it’s the beginning of a long journey—and for many artists, it’s the beginning of a long nightmare. There are no guarantees in the music business, no matter how hard you work, so learn to enjoy the ride each and every day. You’ll be healthier mentally and much happier. Peace! 



Want to learn more helpful tips? BOBBY BORG is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack On A Low Budget (September 2014). The book is available on Hal Leonard website under “Trade Books” (ISBN: 9781480369528), AMAZON, or Bobby Borg ( 


This Article: Copyright © 2015 By Bobby Borg All Rights Reserved. Not to be posted, printed, or used in any other way without proper attribution to Bobby Borg 



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