As a teenager and young adult in upstate New York and Southern California, I reveled in being onstage, performing live as a drummer, and later keyboardist, for audiences in such diverse settings as school gyms, Navy bases and nightclubs like the famous Whisky A-Go-Go. And of course, playing the occasional big concert for thousands of people was always a treat. For many years, I toured the U.S. and Canada with a variety of rock bands and solo acts. It was fun and rewarding, even when the venues were less than glamorous.
But playing live is by no means the only way to influence or impact people with your musical talent. If anyone had told me, when I was in high school or college, that I would someday be touring as a product specialist/clinician for musical instrument manufacturers such as Kurzweil or E-mu Systems, or scoring music for pinball, video games or slot machines, I’d have thought they were dead-wrong. In some circles, that would be seen as “selling out.” And in fact, I’ve occasionally run into old friends who’ve expressed disbelief or disapproval when I’ve told them I’ve been happy to move on and branch out.
Music has tremendous power to lift moods, relieve stress or tell a story, whether you’re hearing it in a concert hall, at a trade show, on television or in an arcade or casino. For me, it’s been surprising to see how and where my production music cues have popped up, on TV shows devoted to history, travel, food and so much more. As such, I tell up-and-coming musicians and composers to seize every opportunity. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to experiment. You never know where it will take you or how your work may be exposed to new listeners that you wouldn’t have otherwise reached.