What does it take to become a professional musician?
A few thoughts beyond the Big 3 on  getting and being there.

Enjoy the video or the transcript:


Today I will talk about what it takes to be a professional musician.
Actually this could be the shortest tutorial ever:
  • be on time
  • be well prepared
  • do not be a jerk


And here’s some bonus content:
You are thinking about becoming a professional musician?
  • if you do not feel the necessity, please do not do it
  • if you have a choice to do something else, do not become a professional musician
  • if you expect to get rich overnight, do not do it


That was all I expected to hear from the guys on the tour bus.
I interviewed them because I did not want to bore everybody to death with my exclusive opinion. They came up with  a lot of other stuff, pretty inspiring insights.
My mates on the bus and me we  each have 20+ years experience and have seen a bit: the big arenas, the small clubs, glamorous productions, cancelled tours. Name it – we have been there….
So again – what does it take to become and become and be a professional musician?
And with professional I means that you spend the majority of your  time with music and make your living being a musician.


Let’s first talk about money:
  •  You need business acumen: If you want to make money as musician – know the relevant aspects of your business. You better know them in and out.
  •  Be willing to live frugal in order to be able to do what you want to do: The world out there tells you that you need to spend a lot of money in order to be happy. That might be true, but – if you keep your monthly fixed costs low you have a lot more choices of which job to accept or decline, you have more sovereignty over your time


Next big chunk: how do you prepare, what do you practise? What do you do all day?
  • Have a vision and act accordingly: One example: Quote from one of the guys on that tour bus: ‘when I was 15 I wanted to be a rock star, so all I did was transcribing the big rock solos, watching shows whenever I could. When i turned 19 I wanted to be the greatest Jazz guitarist ever, so all I did as transcribing Jazz Solos, watching every jazz musician who played in town’. So some 20 years later I am on stage with this gentleman: And every show I play with him I am blown away by his versatility and deepness in playing. No platitudes, no rock solo template #13, no, he means it an delivers every single note, riff and solo. Yes – have a vision, act accordingly.
  • Next: look for magic and find it. We all know those magic riffs, magic songs, melodies – that’s what it is all about – and that’s your job: create that magic.
  •  Practice the fundamentals. Always make time to go back to those eights notes. basic intonation exercises, slow tempos, these are the roots which keep you grounded when the wind is blowing hard out there.

What are you saying, giving to the world?
  • Be an individual, dare to be different. The songs starts and you know in an instant of a second who is playing, even if you haven’t heard that tune beforehand. That is a voice, the world needs your voice, your unique voice.
  •  Reveal yourself. It is about your voice and you story. And we are not talking about the Instagram kind of story where everybody is trying to look as funny, successful, great and hip as possible. We are talking about sharing dreams, about allowing vulnerability, enduring pain, loosing hope, coping with loss, looking for ecstasy, thinking deeply, searching, trying, falling, missing, longing, fearing – just to name a few. Reveal yourself – share


The big coda:
  •  Accept that luck plays a major role and do not play the blame game. I guess pretty much all of you work very hard. sometimes it just does not make sense that you do not land your dream job. Ok, you always can be smarter, practise better, network better, ….. better, but sometimes getting that job it is just shere luck. I hope you enjoy practicing, being around musicians and making music all day. That already is a great gift, and if luck knocks on your door, make sure your ready


And last but not least:
  •   Be patient


I hope you get the message – this is no manual. This tutorial is intended  to inspire you, make you think and make you come up with new questions and ideas. Actually that’s a big part of why I am doing these tutorials – to push and inspire myself.
And – please: we are all in this together – so if you have thoughts, ideas, hit the comment section – let everybody know.
And – please, have fun out there!

These were my Tiny Lessons On What It Takes To Become A Professional Musician.
Feel free to visit  edwardmaclean.com/coaching for more tutorials, information or to get in touch.
If you enjoyed these Tiny Lessons, if you have feedback for me, if you have questions – write an email to coaching@edwardmaclean.com or leave a comment.

Thanks a lot!