Work Ethic: What would you do to make it?

As the title asks… What would you do to make it? When I say “make it”, I mean to be successful in the music business and essentially be a musician for a living. Now, the things that entails might be much different than you are thinking. Let’s just start with the work ethic. How hard you might be willing to work. Back in the day, my band had the mantra of “whatever it takes”. It meant that the band was priority one. That the band needed to come first under all circumstances for us to get ahead of the other bands working hard. That ran us through quite a few musicians to find the ones that would stop at nothing to accomplish our goal. Anyway, what would YOU do? Let’s say the band gets an incredible short notice touring opportunity.

It’ll cost a couple thousand dollars between travel expenses, merch stock up, and promotion. What do you do? Are you enterprising enough to come up with the money? Or do you turn it down? Would you sell some personal stuff? Ask for a loan? Would you quit your day job if you had to for a good opportunity? I’m not recommending that you quit your job to go play a couple of shows, but I AM saying that you should ask yourself and your band members some of these questions when the time comes. Ask yourself and your band what they would do. See where everyone’s priorities are. One of my bands was ready to tour. We had worked through the ranks. Were doing weekend warrior loops around our home base. We were getting paid for shows, selling a lot of merch at shows, had a multi-state following, national representation and a well-known booking agent lined up. Then all of the sudden our guitar player says he can’t tour. He had obligations that when it came right down to it… he had to choose them over the band. We had never had that crucial honest talk about where everyone’s head was at and what they were willing to do to get to the next level and be a touring band.

Does the thought of working on your band get you out of bed excited to start the day? Do you do something for your band every single day? Are you willing to work as many hours on your band as you do your day job? From my experience, having a band and being a musician for a living is very much like being an entrepreneur. A business owner. And every business owner I know had a day job that paid the bills while they worked more and more hours on their own business. Growing it until the day that their own company could replace the daily grind paycheck. See the connection? As a band you are building something that will eventually require more and more of your time.

Hopefully it will also compensate you monetarily. That is the part you may not be thinking of. A good hard-working touring band tends to make just enough to keep them on the road. They usually aren’t making enough to pay bills back home. In comes the side hustle. So, what do you do to make it as a musician? We know several professional musicians that give lessons while on tour. Others sell online courses for recording engineering. Most have endorsement deals to help with equipment costs and some get paid to appear in ads. But as you move into that next level of touring, rather than just a couple of tour-cations a year, how do you get paid while you are on the road? Do you have your side hustle in line? What would you do to make it?

The Fantastic Grammy Music Education Coalition

We are going to do things a little differently on this latest installment! Today, I am going to take some time to highlight the fantastic Grammy Music Education Coalition for merchlive magazine! As someone who personally benefitted from a strong education based in music, I am thrilled to dig deeper into the vision in which they offer!

For those unitiated, the Grammy Music Education Coalition is a “collaboration movement toward universal participation in music education in public elementary schools, and an increased participation in secondary schools across America”, as taken from their mission statement. The group boasts several high profile partners including The Berklee College of music, NAMM, the VH1 save the music foundation, and the Warner music Group, amongst many others. Their annual report from 2018 showed that their work created “more dynamic, diverse communities and provides learning opportunities and workforce readiness for youth on a national scale.”


The GMEC makes investments in school music education and partners with community foundations and government. Once of the many services they offer includes creating a unique music education for American schools and teachers. I cannot speak highly enough of their work as this has proven to be so beneficial to myself in my formative years.


Taken from their annual newsletter, the coalition is focusing on nationwide programming. “We launched the Coalition in November by announcing a partner program with Disney-Pixar, through which we shared music resources from the acclaimed animated film Coco with all interested American schools, music teachers, and students. Disney- Pixar provided the original recorded tracks, mixes and notated scores of select songs. Disney and Cordoba also donated a total of 600 guitars, 200 each going to the Nashville, New York City, and New York City schools.”


One of the coolest things I discovered is that the coalition works closely with established artists of all genres. In the Coalition’s inaugural year, they have confirmed the following Artist Ambassadors: Bebe Rexha, Lang, Mindi Abair, War On Drugs, Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses), Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Ora and Luis Fonsi. This is generating great excitement for students as an extra incentive to work closely with the stars of the music industry!


Their slogan is “Making music matters”. Ideally creating a world where all public schools can participate in a music education is an important task, and I am thankful that such a coalition exists! Based on their studies. “More than 75% of teachers say they can tell which students are taking music classes” as this has shown to increase attitude and performance in areas that are non-music related as well. A large majority of teachers consider music education as a great outlet for creativity as well. Based on these two points alone, there should be more of a push to teach music in or public schools, and the GREC does their best to insure that everyone gets a fair chance to participate.


“The GRAMMY Music Education Coalition invests in youth-connected programs and teacher training strategies to help attract more young people to their schools’ music offerings by helping teachers and educational programs stay exciting and relevant starting at the primary levels all the way through secondary school.” In order to achieve their directives, the coalition employs an investment model which starts by assessing the needs, creating a plan, investing strategically and finally transferring funds to the school districts. Each year the Coalition will engage in one or two leading music education programs that can be used by all American students and teachers in their schools and at home.


Another valuable resource that the coalition provides is implementing full time mentors for music teachers as they have recently in Nashville. Per their newsletter, “The Coalition will also support the district’s professional development for teachers in the use of technology and music production, to address the knowledge gaps identified in both basic technology tools and the understanding of how to maximize the use of technology in music education. Professional development will focus on helping students perform and create contemporary music with current technology and production tools.” As you can see, the support extends long term and provides resources for all aspects of music education.


This is only the beginning, and only a small example of what The GRAMMY Music Education Coalition offers. If you’d like to learn more, please go to to learn more about how the GMEC helps communities nationwide!