Empress of the Universe

Friday, January 06, 2006

Inalienable Truths (of the Music Industry)

Some time ago I was asked to be a guest lecturer about my career in the music industry. The music industry today is nothing like it was twenty-five years ago when I joined, and I didn't think my career would be relevant to a bunch of twenty-somethings. Instead I tried to share with them some of the lessons I have learned in this industry. You may find this true, helpful, an insight into my experiences, or just another useless blog in the universe.

Michelle Henderson’s Inalienable Truths (of the Music Industry)

* Always have a goal. Then develop a strategy for achieving your goal.

* Go to where the job is – don’t wait for the job to come to you.

* Be willing to do anything – and stay that way throughout your entire career. Your flexibility will get you farther, guaranteed. Volunteer to work for free if you REALLY want it.

* Think outside the major label box. Where is the future growth of this industry? There are rewarding opportunities at specialty labels all across Canada and the US.

* KNOW your market. Know your audience. Know your customer. Know how the system works. Know every step.

* Sex and drugs may seem enticing, but they are dangerous to your career; if not your life.

* There is no such thing as gender equality. If you are a woman of child-bearing years, you are suspect. When you choose to have a family, you can expect to lose fully three years or more out of your career. Accept it.

* It has taken me 20 years to realize that there is no such thing as balance between family and career. And I’m a Libra. It’s a fallacy; a myth; unless you are working a “job” or are independently wealthy and have a full-time nanny to assist you, you are going to do one or the other better at any given time.

* Don’t accept no for an answer. Challenge, persevere, find creative solutions. Be tenacious (resolute, firm, dogged, persistent, determined – just know the line between stubborn and obstinate)!

* Don’t go to your superior with a problem. Go with suggested solutions.

* Remember that no one has an obligation to teach you anything. If you have a hunger to learn, make sure that people know that you want it, that you’re ready and that you’re willing to commit what is necessary to achieve success. Every teacher wants a hungry student.

* Consider the qualities of the people you most admire and instead of emulating them, incorporate them into who you are – ultimately you will find your own style.

* Make a commitment to life-long learning. The most important investment you will ever make is in yourself.

* You have to be willing to sell a little bit of your soul to succeed in this industry BUT remember that Perception is everything -- so is integrity.

* Be true to yourself. Make sure that you can sleep at night. You may be worried about a problem, but make sure that you’re never worried with a guilty conscience.

* Have a real passion for your job. Love it or leave it and do something that you do love.

* Remember: life is not fair. When you are confronted with this, don't mope...use this to help you avoid similar circumstances in the future.

* Dress the best that you can afford. When you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you perform better.

* As you progress in your career, learn how to work smarter not harder. Twelve hours a day works when you're young and energetic, but as you gain experience you can accomplish the same results or better with fewer hours and greater quality.

* Be honest...in your relationship with people and your company.....give each 100% of your commitment and integrity.

* Be loyal even though it may be difficult in this day and age of corporate quarterly profits and performance, but if you're lucky enough to find a company with similar loyalty and values, cling to it.

* And the one Inalienable Truth.......the harder I worked the luckier I got.....

(With contributions from Joe Summers, thanks Dad!)

(c) 2002 Michelle Henderson
aka Empress of the Universe

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