I have been working with Edward Tree, producer and musician, for the past six months and we are currently in the final stages of production on my 6 song EP. Ed is an amazing producer. He has a fine tuned ear, an incredible sense of rhythm & flow, and a standard of excellence that I aspire to. He is the kind of musician and producer that does not settle for anything but your best, and as a newbie to the music business, I could not have a better man in my corner. Ed is well respected in music communities all over the world and is in demand as both a producer and guitar player in the Los Angeles area. It is no wonder there is a festival in his honor every year called, “One Degree to Ed Tree.” Though he is widely known, back in his studio, affectionately called “The Tree House,” he is just Ed – humble, considerate, and always ready to make great music. Ed Tree has taught me many lesson in the six months I have had the pleasure of knowing him. Here are my favorites:
1. You have to be where the music is. If you are a serious musician, you must place yourself in a position to be both seen and heard. In an industry as competitive as the music business, booking agents, record labels, managers, etc. are constantly looking for new talent, but if you aren’t ready to bust hump to be where they need you, forget it. Some other musician will be. This may seem like common sense, but it is a serious matter. It separates the men from the boys (or the women from the girls). I have to be willing to travel a lot, stay in cheap hotels (or my brother’s un-airconditioned closet on an air mattress…), leave my family at home, live out of a suitcase, etc. to ensure I am available when needed. The life of a musician just starting out is certainly not glamourous, but if you love the music enough, it is a sacrifice worth taking. In addition, though I already live in California and travel to LA monthly, its not enough. Ed told me I need to be establishing myself in Nashville, as well. Noted! … and an extended trip to Nashville is now in the works!
2. Do not sit on an opportunity. If someone gives you a lead, a phone number, an email address, a business card, etc… Do not let it go to waste. Windows of opportunity will not be open forever. Always present yourself professionally, but make contact quickly – do not allow for so much time to pass that someone forgets who you are and is no longer excited about what you are doing. Many musicians do not like to hear this, but your music is your business. If you want your business to be successful, then treat it like one.
3. Be willing to fire yourself. That is correct – I did not mistype that statement. If you are not the absolute best person for the task ahead, then hire someone who is. The same is true for those around you. If their professionalism and performance is not up to par with where you want to go, then its time to let them go. This can be a very hard pill to swallow, but again, your music is your business, and you have to treat it like one.
4. You can have a lot of fun while working really hard. Ed is committed to excellence in the studio, but he also knows how to enjoy himself. When you truly enjoy what you are doing, working really hard is like play. The old adage is true… if you love what you are doing, you never work a day in your life. It is possible to be professionally successful AND personally satisfied.
5. Treat everyone with kindness. This should seem like common sense, but unfortunately, its not. Ed and I share the feeling that treating others kindly is a choice. I found it to be refreshing working with someone who has been very successful, yet still thinks that kindness and humility are essential character traits. Bottom line: people want to work with other people that are kind. In an industry where your reputation often precedes you, make sure your actions are as good as your music.
In sum: Go where the music is, take advantage of your opportunities, fire yourself if need be, have some fun, and be kind. You can learn so much from people who have been around longer than you have, and if you take the time to ask them about their experience, you will be amazed at what you will learn.
Go Love One Another and Vie en Rouge!