I was thinking about how we, as musicians, advance and make progress in our careers.
I've come up with something that rings true in terms of every situation that has helped me in my personal journey. It comes down to this: Anytime anything happens “for us,” it comes as the result of a recommendation from someone else. Or someone we knew thought of us.
It's as simple as that.
If you think back on your life, you'll see this is true. Think of your tree of recommendations, gigs, interviews, etc., that you've done. How did you hear about the prospect or get involved?
This same principle also stands out as to why some amazing guitarists I knew never burst out of the bubble of being just an incredible talent that some people in the underground knew of and admired. Many musicians spend so much time on becoming mind-blowing players that they never make friends and work on their social skills, which are incredibly necessary to take it a step further.
Developing your skills on how to effectively communicate with others is as necessary as working on your scales, songs or equipment.
Many guitarists feel that once they become amazing players, someone out there will discover them by pure luck — and then the hard work will pay off. Maybe. I must admit that more often than not, major career breakthroughs come from practicing your instrument, developing your talents, showcasing your skills to others and then having a network of friends who can make influential recommendations or simply think of you when they have some good info to pass on.
Once you're in the position you desired, or while you're on your way there, you are expected to communicate well. That’s a whole lot more than just playing guitar.
Most bands that look for new musicians first ask their friends about whom they think might fit. Even if you see an ad for an audition, it might have come from a website you know of because a friend recommended it to you. If not, you might have seen the website as a link on your friend’s Facebook page. That’s an example of an indirect recommendation. If you never knew your friend, all other links from that point on would have been lost. You can now begin to see how all this works.
Don’t get me wrong. I'm not recommending you run out and make as many friends in the music business as possible with only the end result in mind. That system is fake, and no one appreciates it. What I recommend is that you work on building honest, real relationships with new people and faces. Think of quality before quantity and connect with people you find interesting or inspiring.
So is it “Who you know and not what you know?” That’s way too one-sided for me. If you work on becoming a successful metal guitarist, you and I already know you will need the technical ability and knowledge that goes along with playing this style of music. What I know is that you probably don’t want to be the next Dimebag sitting in your basement for the rest of your life, as what good is your talent if no one knows about it?
Do us a favor and share your talents by allowing others to help you. Just think about the above blog post for a bit and see what it means to you.
Thanks for reading,
Polish-born Metal Mike Chlasciak has recorded or performed with heavy metal greats Rob Halford, Sebastian Bach, Bruce Dickinson and Axl Rose. Mike is the long-time guitarist for Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford's solo endeavor, Halford. Mike's new album, The Metalworker, is due in spring. For more info, check out his official website and visit him on Twitter.