What leads to work? Who decides who gets work in music?
Till social media became a thing, work came in a very predictable way. Working in music was always about someone personally reaching out to someone else - to hire them, to collaborate, to feature them. Some relationships are short term. Others last a lifetime.
It was often perceived that one person getting a spot or an opportunity meant "others not getting it" . This would lead to resentment and ranting. People would be angry about 'lesser talents' getting opportunities that they deserve. Then throw in privilege and nepotism and all.... and it's a big confusing mess for a young artist.
People. It's simple.
Work is given to the one who FITS. This doesn't mean "fitting in". It only means being the right fit.
When anyone resonates with you strongly at any level - You WILL be their stand-out option ..no matter how many others exist, and no matter where they stand in your personal mental hierarchy.
WHAT DOES THIS RESONANCE COMPRISE OF?
1) Simple. Personal taste. Suppose you listen to a lot of rock music. Of the millions of rock singers that exist, some will just tug at your soul a little harder. Many of the singers might look or behave the same. They might all be representing a common core aesthetic. Some might be more popular than your favorites. But somehow, a handful just make a deeper impact on you as a listener. So for you, they are the best. For someone else, the others might be best. IT'S THE SAME WHEN IT COMES TO HIRING. Humans choose what feels right. Subjectivity always plays a role in decisions because the logical brain and the emotional associative brain compute these things together.
2) Big thing. Skill level - is important ONLY TO THE LEVEL THAT THE HIRING PARTY CARES ABOUT SKILL.
The biggest new lesson I've learnt is never to assume another's mind. What is basic to you might be excellent to someone. Someone more basic than you can be just the right fit somewhere. That's fair. I love an occasional Nescafe while my coffee snob friends might find that totally tacky :) My standards for coffee are just lower and I'm happy with that.
3) Peer Reputation - Those who hire you sometimes have access to your track record. If you hurt people too often, the word will spread. If you are easy to work with, in a short time everyone will know too. In the long run, nobody can hide themselves too long because everyone works together all the time. There's no faking it in the long term.
4) PRICE is a factor only if you make it. BEING CHEAPER MIGHT LAND YOU SOME WORK for some time..... But finding those for whom you are the RIGHT FIT, will always deliver better results. If affordability is the reason why someone hires you, you will be expected to stay cheap. How long can you do that? How much will you cut down on what you deserve? ...... open secret "This is my budget" is hardly ever about an actual budget in the hiring circles. It's about what they know you will work for..... I want for us all, that we all get so specific and so clear that our fees can always remain healthy and grow as we progress in life.
SO WHAT DO WE REALLY DO ABOUT WORK?
Be shameless in your own head about what you offer. I do believe that there is a formula. Choose the level of musical skill that feels right to you. Choose the TYPE of music skill that feels right to you. Choose the presentation style that feels right to you. You can be a Blues Singer all your life whose growth is in the storytelling element of the music and you can present it wearing a tee and jeans. OR You can just sell a fantasy with snazz costumes and production elements and without needing mad vocal skills. (Both these options already have lots of work!) Let's look at other options. Perhaps, you focus on excellence and work in the relevant niche and become a legit legend in the community..... Perhaps you adopt a form a activism and that is the core to all your music, lyric, design, tour planning....everything to serve the cause you care about.
Which of these options actually excited you? Was it a combination of options that made you light up?
CHOOSE YOUR LANE AND LOVE IT AND CHARGE AHEAD! There will always be takers.
Also, Be shameless in your head about what you really want out of your work. Money-how much? Fame- what type of fame? Just lots of work - Sure! The last time I checked, my work goals were this :
I want to be known for my Voice. My Voice is central. I want to be part of Music and of Projects that make a difference to people. No, im not doing Music for self expression. Im lucky to be in a place where I can speak my mind openly. I am doing music to serve a population that needs anchoring and that needs well-being. I'm not interested in Fame if I have to change my core sound and my aesthetic for it. I want to "make it" with and only with what I believe is my true sonic self. I want to work with the Greats and I want to bring soul to the table. I want work that balances with my lifestyle - Home is important, family is important, spirituality, nature and study time are important. I believe in slow living and So I need to work and earn in a relevant way and in the relevant niche to make this lifestyle possible.
Guess what ----- 20 gigs a month doesn't fit into this. Switching to massy work also doesn't. But writing does, research does, travel does....... so that's why my life is my life.
ANSWER YOUR SHAMELESS QUESTIONS. BE BOLD. LOVE THE THING THAT MAKES YOU GET EXCITED. DO IT ALLLLLLLL THE TIME..