Advice for Young Musicians, from Young Agents

Advice for Young Musicians, from Young Agents

Jenna Simeonov
By some fortuitous chance, I had the opportunity to talk with two young agents about getting work in the opera and classical music industry. Alia Rosenstock is with Dean Artists Management, and you may have seen her earlier interview with me about her work representing opera singers. Percussionist Allison Bent was an artist representative with Andrew Kwan Artists, and is now the Orchestra Personnel Administrator for the TSO. Alia works in the world of singers, and Allison comes from the instrumental side; since I asked them both for their advice for young musicians seeking work, I thought it would be a good idea to compile their answers together. To work in the arts is to negotiate a vague, subjective industry, but musicians can always count on the important of a solid technique. Says Alia,"I understand that you get nervous when you're auditioning, but you have to have enough faith in your technique…to be able to go in there and do your best." With that as a given I asked Allison and Alia about their two big points of consensus.

Being a Good Colleague

Allison: “There are a lot of amazing musicians everywhere, but being easy to work with will get you hired over other people every time. Whether it’s for chamber performances, solo recitals, or orchestras, I’ve seen personality hired over ability (when the difference in ability is minimal) on many occasions.”

Alia: “Getting in the door sometimes is a lot easier than getting hired back if it was a bad experience for the people that surrounded you and are supporting you and helping you have a good performance. If you’ve been working with a lot of people and word gets around that you’re a diva, or that you’re difficult and don’t listen to the director, or you’re just not a nice person to your colleagues, then that could have an adverse effect on your career.”

Business and Networking

Allison: “Updating their resume, getting new headshots, putting a press kit together, having coffee with a mentor, or thinking about programming possibilities, all of these aspects are necessary on a regular basis for succeeding as a musician in addition to practicing. Many young musicians are caught when they need these items and they are not ready, and then lose opportunities as a result.”

Alia: “Don’t be afraid to network. I think that a lot of people, not just artists, they hear that word and they just want to go run and hide, and never come out. And that’s a shame, because if you look at networking as just talking to somebody else and having a conversation with them, it really is just a conversation, it’s not anything scary. We’re all people.”

Allison: “Networking works best when it comes from a genuine interest in getting to know people without coming across as expecting anything in return. Fostering genuine and long lasting relationships is extremely important in this industry which goes back to the part about being a good colleague. It’s a very small world and you never know who you might work with down the line.”

Alia: “At the end of the day, if you believe your craft is so awesome that people should be paying to listen to it, you shouldn’t have any problem whatsoever approaching a producer or a director or a conductor. Just talk to them, they’re just people. And if they’re not friendly, then, whatever, you can’t win them all.”

*Bonus good news:

Allison: “Canada’s classical music job market is not all doom and gloom. There are a lot of opportunities out there for professional level work, it’s just a matter of being aware of how to access them. Those who are open to change and are willing to put the work into building relationships and using the resources that are available to them will have the best chance at succeeding in the current climate of non-popular music in Canada. “

For a full interview with Allison Bent, click here.



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