By Dylan Deprey
The glitz and glamour that encapsulates the music industry can be a shadowy veil for something much different.
Whether it is an amateur singer, radio show host or a prospect in music management, without any preparation, the music industry can end a person’s career in crushing defeat.
Although being the next Beyoncé or Jay Z may seem like reaching for the stars, professionals in the music industry say that a dream, some tough skin and a lot of passion can carry a person pretty far.
Teens and young adults gathered at the Atkinson Library to listen to a panel of those who have worked single handedly in the music industry during the libraries’ Pizza, Popcorn and Professionals event Oct. 24, 2016.
The panel spanned across the vast spectrum of the music industry including careers in music librarian, music teaching, live theater, radio programming, promotions and of course becoming an artist.
V100.7 radio host Promise was in attendance, and said that for a lot of people just getting a foot in the music industry’s massive door is one of the most difficult parts.
“Entertainment is something that is fickle to a lot of people. They say that it is not a real job, and that it’s a dream,” Promise said.
Although some may consider being a rapper or a professional flutist a dream, the panel stressed that having passion for music is the number one element to maintain a career in music.
Panelist Lena Cole was so passionate about up-and-coming musicians she traveled the United States listening to artists. In huge cities like New York and L.A. there was live music at all hours of the night. She wanted that same experience and moved to Milwaukee to set up R&B Live, a show started in L.A.
R&B Live is a an opportunity for artists just starting out or looking to hone their craft and perform in front of a packed house. Artists play covers of songs and eventually are able to perform their own music and potentially gain a fan base.
Cole said that although her career and passion for music are interwoven, she is still a woman in a male dominated industry.
“It is very, very, very difficult. They don’t take you seriously, so you have to earn your spot in the industry,” Cole said.
V100.7 program director and radio personality Bailey Coleman also agreed with Cole that making your voice known especially as a woman of color in a male dominated industry is a struggle. She said that even with the struggles, including a never-ending workload, her job is fun.
She advised those looking for a start in the radio business, or music in general, by taking a lower position or interning to learn the business and start building a network.
Milwaukee Conservatory of Music Piano Chair Teresa Drews told a story of when she played piano for her classmates singing lessons for extra cash during college.
She said that even if it is helping people practice, its builds friendships and networking for later in a career. She played for Heather Headley who eventually of sang at President Obama’s inauguration and performs on Broadway in the “Lion King.”
“Be ready because you never know when an opportunity will come your way,” Coleman said.
Milwaukee R&B singer Cincere said music was his vessel to help spread a positive message to Milwaukee. He said that along with taking any available opportunities in the music business is to always work hard and stay humble.
“These people are business people, and they respect real grind and drive,” Cincere said.