How do you know if your a pro?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by LuisTorres, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. LuisTorres

    LuisTorres Member

    Messages:
    28
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    I want to know how you can tell if your a pro, if not what do you need to become a pro. strange question but i would like to know.
     
  2. Neer

    Neer Supporting Member

    Messages:
    12,162
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    Location:
    NJ
    You get paid and people want to hire you. You become pro by having your act together and building a network of other musicians who are or will be pros.
     
  3. doc

    doc Member

    Messages:
    5,736
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    Middle Tennessee
    If you make more than half of your income from the music related stuff, then you're a pro.
    If you make some significant money, but less than half your income from it, you're a semi-pro.
    If you make an insignificant amount or no money but play out some, then you're an amateur/hobbyist.

    Your level of skill and talent is usually somewhat related to which of those categories you fall into, but there are a number of very talented semi-pros and amateurs that can hang easily with the pros, so which money category you fall into doesn't indicate which skill level you're in.
     
  4. Jeremy_Green

    Jeremy_Green Member

    Messages:
    941
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Professional means doing it for a living... I think doc's breakdowns are pretty accurate.
    Usually people who do for a living are better - because they do it more. But the terms really has little to do with ones actual skill level. I have been pro, semi-pro & amateur at various points in my life and none of it had to do with my actual playing really. More my tolerance for financial struggle.
     
  5. travisvwright

    travisvwright Member

    Messages:
    11,893
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Location:
    Franklin, NC
    Disclaimer on doc's breakdown is even if all your income is from music you can't be considered prop until you've made back all of your initial investment (gear, lessons, travel expenses, etc.).
     
  6. AnthonyStauffer

    AnthonyStauffer Member

    Messages:
    284
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    State College, PA
    Quote of the year right there.
     
  7. vivacuica

    vivacuica Member

    Messages:
    169
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    Doc's breakdown is pretty good. I would also add:

    -- you show up on time
    -- you have your **** together (know the tunes, your gear works)
    -- you're a good hang

    Great players can miss these three things and NO ONE wants to play with them. Key to being pro.
     
  8. doc

    doc Member

    Messages:
    5,736
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    Middle Tennessee
    So far we haven't addressed the second part of the question - how to become a pro. It really depends on what blend of things you'll be doing with the music to bring in the income. Focussing on doing it primarily by playing guitar, you'd want to spend a lot of time and effort making sure that your "time" is good (practice with a metronome), learn to read - first the Nashville number type charts, then if you can some standard notation, get the skills needed to be a very good player in whatever genre you are trying to work in. You'll also need to develop your business skills - learn to network, promote yourself, keep track of the money, learn the basics of contracts and how people in your part of the business get paid. Finally, make sure your attitude is right - be amiable and agreeable, show up on time, make sure your equipment works and is appropriate, keep substances under control, etc.
     
  9. Snap

    Snap Member

    Messages:
    390
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Location:
    Tx
    When you understand the difference between "your" and "you're"...
     
  10. JonR

    JonR Member

    Messages:
    12,276
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Location:
    London
    Nah. You don't need to be any good at English to be a professional musician...
     
  11. craigoslo

    craigoslo Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2009
    When you remember to save money for your taxes.
     
  12. Jeremy_Green

    Jeremy_Green Member

    Messages:
    941
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    I totally agree with Sean...

    -- you show up on time
    -- you have your **** together (know the tunes, your gear works)
    -- you're a good hang

    yes man.

    As far as the actual job part goes... or getting work: You need to be willing to play with ANYONE. Get out there and play - you never know who these people know. This is a COMMON mistake. The busiest players i know were never that picky about who they played with. Never say no. Networking is the shiz.

    Guitar wise - You also need to have a large vocabulary of chords. The ability to sightread at a decent level. The ability to understand different forms of chord charts. You will be much better off if you know a variety of styles beyond the cliches. Be comfortable in many different time signatures/feels. You need to understand the sensitivities of the guitar's role in a particular project. Sometimes it it front and center - more often you are part of the rhythm section.

    Most important: ALWAYS work to make the leader sound better. By whatever means.
     
  13. JonR

    JonR Member

    Messages:
    12,276
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Location:
    London
    Doc's first post sums up the essentials: it's basically about being able to earn enough to live on from music, alone or in the main. That naturally requires a reasonable level of skill - enough to impress people sufficiently for them to think you're worth paying, that is.

    Of course, there are then levels of professionalism, which are about business and personal skills. You can be a pro in terms of how you make a living, but still be unprofessional in how you run your business or in how you behave. Likewise, someone who is an amateur/hobbyist in terms of earnings (they have another job they make their living from) might have a very professional attitude in how they approach music, whether or not they also have "professional standard" skills (however we define those).

    The different issues of skills and attitude - and how professional one is in each - is a good question. There's obviously a spectrum in each, no easily defined borderline you can be either side of. (The better you develop your own skills and attitude, the higher the levels you'll expect from anyone else who calls themselves "professional".)

    Another (more frivolous) way of looking at it may be that a professional person has "clients". Any other kind of self-employed worker has "customers". A bit of semantics maybe (with nicely inbuilt class-based snobbery), but might help you define yourself :).

    Personally, I've been a hobbyist in music most of my life (46 years, since age 16 or earlier). I've been a "professional" - and I still feel I need the quotes - for around 7 years, because that's when I started teaching seriously - after I took a teaching course, and when schools and colleges, as well as private students, started hiring me; and when earnings from music started to overtake my (minimal) earnings from my previous profession.
    I don't really think my actual skills are a whole lot better than they were 20 or 30 years ago.
    I also still regard myself as an "amateur" in that I do it mainly for love (that's where the word "amateur" comes from). However, I have noticed that the need to earn enough to live on does tend to take some of the enjoyment out of it. Maybe that's where the borderline between amateur and pro is: which side the balance falls between "loving it and earning nothing" and "making a living and hating it".
    There's a definite sense that once one starts earning any money at all from something creative like music - even as an amateur - one starts to feel dictated to in some way. "They're paying me, so I have to do what they want, not what I want."
    (I've been through it as a professional illustrator too.)
    IOW, the amateur and semi-pro are arguably in the best position, in that they can afford to turn down work that's not rewarding musically. If no one else likes what they do, who cares?

    Naturally, most of us find a happy medium between the two - if for no other reason that if you do end up hating what you do, then you won't do it as well... and then people stop paying you anyway. Whereas if you get a personal reward (not just a financial one) from what you do, then you will probably do it better - and people will keep wanting to hire you.
     
  14. cyguitar

    cyguitar Member

    Messages:
    903
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    San Diego, CA

    :agreeYou beat me to it. Although in his defense, English is probably not his first language.
    Don't get me started on "To", and "Too", or "There", "Their", "They're".

    To me, being a professional means, you make a living at whatever it is you're doing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  15. stevel

    stevel Member

    Messages:
    12,963
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Location:
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    Reposted.

    There's a professional musician, and a professional ATTITUDE. A professional musician theoretically *should* have a professional attitude but some genres (gangsta rap, 70s rock, punk, etc.) actually promoted what would have typically been considered unprofessional attitudes. Unfortunately, this has had a huge impact on the "working" musician.

    Professional means you get paid for it, regularly and you can do it for a respectable portion of your income.

    But, having a professional attitude means knowing your parts, showing up on time, etc. etc. Acting like a professional *should* act (if music were any other business).

    The "stars" in the music business often cultivate a persona of "unprofessionalism" or "rebelliousness" but make no mistake - many of these people work very hard at acting like they don't work very hard.

    Personally, I would prefer to live in a world where musicians (and artists of any type) were respected and as well-compensated as any business person (or laborer for that matter). But until we start acting like professionals, no one's going to take us seriously.

    Best,
    Steve
     
  16. dlguitar64

    dlguitar64 Member

    Messages:
    4,635
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Location:
    Durham,NC
    Work on Rhythm Guitar more than soloing- loud blues rock shredding is useless in most situations.
     
  17. gpro34

    gpro34 Member

    Messages:
    5,376
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    How to tell if "you're a pro."
    I say if you have to ask, chances are you are are probably not, but that's okay, you can still get a lot of enjoyment regardless.
     
  18. Julia343

    Julia343 Member

    Messages:
    7,618
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Are you considered a pro if you teach?
     
  19. Jamie_Mitchell

    Jamie_Mitchell Member

    Messages:
    1,333
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Location:
    south of no north
    idk about that Jon. I get where you're coming from but put it this way:
    what amateurs are putting out your favorite music?
    1st couple Mtn. Goat records?
    Dan Reeder?

    if amateurs are able to have the freedom to do what's inspiring to them, why is it that the proportions of cover bands amongst middle-aged semipros is so much higher than any other group?

    again, I'm not knocking that, I've met lots of people with day gigs who were way better than me. I'm 22, supporting myself entirely on music, and I know what I make wouldn't be considered much of a living to some... but I do know that of the semi-pros I know, I'm not looking at them saying "I wish I could be in the musical situations they are" you know?
    and the people who are busier than me, with more bands, I'm always looking up to that. it's a labour for sure, but it's love. depressing? self-doubt? poverty? embarrassment? all of the above. wouldn't trade it though, at this point

    j

    [SOUNDCLOUD]http://www.soundcloud.com/the-falconer/all-i-want[/SOUNDCLOUD]
     
  20. rspencer

    rspencer Member

    Messages:
    2,293
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2011
    Location:
    between here & there
    So true. Every picture of a Jack Daniels bottle being tipped up & emptied is offset by a thousand untaken pictures of 16+ hour days in the studio nailing every nuance of a song.
     

Share This Page