Picture cramming into a van with four of your best friends and traveling across the country for the summer. You never know where you’re going to sleep, you barely get time to shower and the air conditioner on the van is broken. That’s the life of a touring musician. You smell bad half of the time, your hair is ungroomed, and most of the time you struggle to earn enough gas money to get to the next city. Oh, and you love every minute of it.
There are lots of parallels between being a touring musician and working in advertising. No, my coworkers aren’t sleep deprived and in need of a shower, but the creative spirit and dedication I see are reminiscent of those days traveling across the country and playing music. When it comes down to it, we’re all after the same goal – to create and distribute art.
Music is art. A group of musicians will get together and bring ideas to the table. They will riff (literally) on one another’s idea until they all agree on a direction. When all of the instruments come together and everyone is passionately nailing their part, there is an adrenaline that can’t be denied. You’ve just created something that is exciting, and you can’t wait to share it with the world. The process is no different than a creative director finishing up his or her first round of work for the client.
Musicians spend countless hours writing and recording music, planning events, booking tours, coordinating with designers for shirt and record art, organizing merchandise with vendors, and more. Sound familiar? It should. Band members are their own account and project managers.
Booking a tour across the country is no easy task. You have to gather contacts, build relationships, negotiate guarantees, find places to stay, ship out promotional materials, get your record reviewed, get in front of the media and keep track of all of it while you’re on the road. You have to be organized, so nothing falls through the cracks and gets lost. These are the same qualities and tasks we look for from our media relations team.
Being in a band is an all-in effort that takes a lot of dedication. You may spend a year writing a record before you get the final product in your hand and out into the public. Patience is a quality you desperately need when working in advertising. You’re not going to see immediate results, and the best work is worth the wait.
Your idea may not always be the best idea, although you might think it is. You have to compromise and work as a team. There might be a new way of thinking brought to the table or an experience that someone else has had that you can learn from. When you listen to what others have to say, things start to change, and your art can evolve. This goes for both musicians and art directors.
A touring band is like a job and family rolled into one. When you’re not writing and practicing with them, you’re traveling, performing, eating and lodging with them. There is a “no asshole” rule. You have to be easy going and positive for the experience to work. After being heavily involved in the music scene for nearly 10 years, I’ve found that musicians are some of the most open-minded and creative people I’ve met. They work long hours, they’re organized, they’re dedicated to their craft, they compromise with one another and the majority of them are easygoing. The same can be said for my coworkers and many of the people I’ve met through advertising.
The next time you’re interviewing someone, and they tell you they were in a touring band, ask them to tell you about it. You’ll be astonished at how similar it was to your last campaign launch.