I’m playing a show tonight with up and coming pop artist Jordan Keim. She called me a few weeks ago, asking about whether I did “live beats”. After talking a little more about what she needed, I’m going to be playing MPC pads, triggering backing tracks, and playing sub bass synth.
Music is going through another massive change, and I’m realizing more every day that if I want to continue to be in demand, I’m going to have to define myself as a musician and not just a keyboardist. Here’s why I think you should, too:
1. Music is more electronic than ever before.
All you have to do to see this trend is turn on the radio. Almost everything is made with a computer, and that means if you own one and even a decent midi controller you can join in. Imagine how much more in demand you could be if could add 2-3x the value to a gig? All it takes is dropping about $300 on software and a midi controller, and you can get in the game.
2. Artists are on tight budgets.
With the collapse of the traditional music label model, artists are having to run leaner ships than ever before. By being able to cover several different instruments onstage, artists are able to afford to pay you well while playing more shows.
3. Not everybody is doing it yet.
Incredibly, few musicians I know have made the leap to multi-instrumentalist yet. That means there’s still a demand in the market that you can help fill. This same thing has happened cyclically for years (keyboardists were banned by unions in the 1960’s). If you’re one of the trendsetters, you’ll have time to become the de facto expert.
4. It helps to stretch your creative limits.
It’s amazing to me how technology plays me, not the other way around. Every instrument, controller, or software that I use suggests a different approach to making music. All I have to do is listen and react to discover new possibilities for creativity.
5. It’s not super difficult to transfer your skills.
Here’s the cool part: if you’re musical, you can probably pick up another instrument and be okay at it in very little time. I’ve been playing guitar for years. While I’m not great at it and I do it all wrong, I sound pretty good to most non-players and it’s enough that I can use it to write songs. Remember, you don’t have to be amazing at an instrument to have it really help your career.