It is important as a teacher to instill the value of being an entrepreneur. With an industry ever-growing in popularity and expanding in what’s artistically acceptable, it is important to keep ahead of the curve with business savvy. Instructors must introduce marketing concepts and vital communication skills to students who wish to be professional musicians.

Branding

A strong online presence and branding are important to establishing oneself as a professional. It is a formality to have a professional website complete with bio (long and short), a schedule of upcoming events, pictures, videos, and a press page. When a venue or host asks for more information to include in programs or to use for their own advertisements of your performances, it’s helpful to send them to your webpage which has all of this in one convenient and complete package. Also, cover letters, business cards, emails, and websites should use the same font and color schemes to create a brand. Ideally, when someone sees a business card with a particular scheme, they can instantly associate it with an individual, helpful in keeping yourself on the minds of future employers.

Communication

Effective communication skills are vital to a successful and lucrative career. Emails, Facebook Artist pages, and phone calls are often the first points of contact with a potential employer. A strong command of vocabulary and grammar rules can make or break a connection.

Always observe standard writing conventions when writing emails, letters, or any other form of communication. Emails should always have a direct and relevant subject line. If you’re emailing about a potential gig at a hospital, the subject line could be, “Percussion Performance at ____ Hospital.” Be sure to capitalize every word of the subject line except articles. Begin with a pleasant greeting (“Dear Mr. Smith) followed by a comma. Double space before starting your first paragraph and double space every subsequent paragraph. Keep paragraphs focused on one particular topic. Start a new paragraph for each topic. Conclude the email with one of the following as it fits your situation: “Sincerely,” “Thank you for your time and consideration.” Include a double space before your typed signature. Include an email signature containing any important or relevant contact information, including email address, phone number, street address, social media, and webpage. It should go without saying, but… Your email address must be appropriate and relevant to your business and/or industry.

Facebook Artist pages are a new and important means of reaching an audience. Personal websites are important formalities in professionalism, though almost everyone (billions of people) are already on Facebook, so why not meet them where they already roam? This artist page can include your biographical information, contact information, and descriptions of you or your ensemble. Be sure to use professional language which represents you or your group as professionals. It is also important to include photos and audio and video clips of performances so prospective fans and employers can see what you’re all about.

Phone etiquette is vital. Be sure to leave the “ums” and “likes” out of important business conversations — professionals don’t use these place holders. Also, be polite and approachable in your tone. Voicemails should be organized as follows:

Your name/organization name

Phone number

Body of the message

Repeat name and phone number

“Thank you.”