The Power Of Taking Initiative As A Musician

This is a guest post written by Aeyons drum teacher Magesh.

I have had a great career as a musician being able to perform with artists like Lionel Richie, Ricky Martin, Rhianna, Chris Brown and a host of other pop stars. I was also lucky to have 'A grade' endorsements from drum/cymbal and stick companies where I received top of the line equipment for free. I believe I created a lot of these opportunities myself. I felt it all started with taking initiative. The essence of this article is to always move forward as a musician and not hope someone randomly stumbles across your talent and offers you a gig.

I remember having a contact at the Sony record company who would book me for gigs with famous pop singers. One day I called his office and was told he no longer worked for the company. Initially, I was filled with fear and panic as I hung up the phone. When those emotions subsided I thought to myself 'Why don't I just call back and speak to the person that replaced my old contact?' That's exactly what I did. I succinctly explained that I was booked to play the drums for numerous Sony recording artists and would love the opportunity to do so again in the future. The new guy I spoke to said 'Ok, sure'. Then hung up. I thought I'd probably never hear from him again. He called me the following week to perform on TV with Chris Brown. This would have never happened unless I took the initiative to make that phone call.

When I was 19 I flew from my home (Australia) to America to see what the music scene was like. I had a chance encounter with Michael Jackson's drummer. I introduced myself and asked if I could have a drum lesson with him. His answer really surprised me. He said 'I don't teach'. Without thinking I said 'That's a shame, I flew over 20,000 miles to get here to have a lesson with you!'. I'm not sure if he felt guilt or was just trying to stop the awkward silence I had created but somehow he agreed to give me a drum lesson the following week. How's that for taking initiative!

There are certain things you can do in any situation to take initiative. 


Number 1: Ask yourself how you can add more value to the current situation

I'll give you an example. When I would get called by a record company to play the drums for a popular artist they would usually ask me to recommend a guitar player, bass player and keyboard player. I told them I would organise the whole band which immediately cut down their workload. They then explained to me what the budget was for hiring instruments. I told them I would ask the musicians to bring their own instruments which mean it could save the record company a lot of money. It was an easy decision for the record company to call me as opposed to another drummer simply because of the value I created in this situation.


Number 2: If you need to contact someone you don't know, call them, don't email them

Managers, record company execs, club owners are really busy people. Most of the time if you send an email to them it will most likely be read by an assistant who will probably delete it. When you get someone on the phone the enthusiasm (or desperation!) in your voice can be heard. Being identified as a human being can help you stand out in a world of electronic messages.

Always remember that you have the ability to take initiative in any situation. People will always want to work with someone who comes up with creative ideas, is good at problem-solving and can move things forward. This is true regardless if you are playing in a high school band or with a world-famous rock star.

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