Watch Things a Professional Musician Needs to Focus On
Willie Oteri shares what he's learned as a successful professional musician and shares the wisdom he wished he had back when he started.
One of the biggest lessons I learned, and it took me years to learn this, is to spend the most money you can on public relations and promotions. You've got to hire a professional public relations person to market your CD for you, market your written music, and market you in general. If I had known that years ago, it would have been- it's something I try to tell my students now. Don't go buy these- you don't need a really expensive instrument, you need an adequate instrument. You don't need a brand new car, you need a car that works. You don't need a big place to live, you need a place to sleep at night. You need some food, you need to eat well but you can do that on a pretty good budget. Spend a lot of money on public relations. That's going to get your name out there.
Once I started using professional public relations people I started getting reviews in major magazines like Jazz Times and online at All About Jazz. Almost everything I put out now gets about twenty or thirty reviews in pretty big spots, pretty big blogs and major magazines and stuff around the world. And it's because I hired someone that has all the connections and knows how to promote the product. And it's not that expensive, it costs way less than you would think.
That's probably the number one thing. And focusing on just being good. Knowing your limitations is important as a musician. And focusing on where you actually want to be, say, two years, five years, ten years down the road- and being willing to accept if that doesn't happen, being willing to shift. I've probably shifted styles of music three or four times in my life to what works and what I'm best at doing. And what I'm best at doing is improvisation, so that's been working.