WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Your son or daughter comes to you one day and says, “Mom, dad—I want to become a musician.” While your first thought may be one of concern over how your child will support himself financially, a career in a creative industry like music doesn’t have to mean a sure path to living life as a starving artist.
Contemporary jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright knows this scenario first hand.
“As a kid... I would have very lucid dreams about being a recording artist," recalls Albright, who is now 18 albums into his chart-topping career. After decades of touring the world as a musician, he is now living a life of abundance with a home in Colorado that's in tune with his lifestyle.
In a post-CD era of digital downloads, the 8-time Grammy nominee has creatively engineered a successful career by using his talents in various aspects of the music industry—including a sweet gig in the house band for American Idol. He's also recorded music for several films, including Dreamgirls, and performed on stages large and small for concerts, corporate events and private parties, like when he was selected as one of 10 saxophonists to play at former President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
“There’s a lot of ways to make money in this business, but I grew up realizing that you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. You try to do everything,” says Albright. “So I write, I produce, I’m a recording artist, I mentor, I go into schools and sometimes do master classes.”
But before a budding musician can get started with that, Albright says there’s one key feature that anyone looking to make it in the music biz must have.
“Initially, it’s about having the talent," says Albright, who also serves as a mentor to his pop-star nephew, Omarion.
"You gotta be good."
Albright offers these tips for aspiring artists, with talent topping his list:
- You must first have the talent.
- You must have the passion to do the work.
- You must know what your strengths are and pursue those strengths.
- You must network. Make yourself known to the people who can assist.
- Build up your social media platform.
Watch the video at the top of this page of Gerald Albright on Great Day Washington for more details on his tips.
Markette Sheppard is host of Great Day Washington, the lifestyle morning show on WUSA9. You can see more of her music and entertainment interviews weekdays at 9 a.m. on WUSA9.