Dreaming of a career in the music industry? Whether you’re interested in recording, performing, promoting, or some other career path, it’s often all about your network – which sometimes means taking odd jobs along the way, just for the experience. Read on for Winston Salem guitar teacher Rob D.‘s story…
I would guess that most people who graduate from college with a music degree have an image in the back of their mind. They may see themselves on stage, singing in front of thousands of people. Or maybe they imagine writing that hit song that gets on the radio, or working on those hit songs in the studio with some of the world’s biggest artists.
In my case, one of these aspirations actually came true, but not nearly in the way I had imagined it would. Right after college, I moved to Los Angeles and started looking for my first job in a recording studio. Since I was one of the few people knocking on the door with a degree in music production and engineering, I had no problem landing a position at one of the major studios in Hollywood.
Of course, even with a college degree, you couldn’t just expect to start off at the top in the music industry. Instead, I was hired on as a “runner,” which meant I got to drive around in my VW Rabbit doing errands all over Los Angeles. After a couple months of driving, the studio boss called me in to his office and said I was being assigned to a “special” project. That project was Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” album.
At first, Michael didn’t say much around me at all. Over time, he warmed up to me, and even started calling me Robbie, a name I hadn’t used since elementary school. After a while, he started sending me out on personal errands, like taking his credit card to fill his huge Chevy Blazer up with gasoline for the long trip back up to his ranch. I am still amazed that the attendant didn’t even blink an eye when I handed him Michael Jackson’s credit card to pay for all that fuel!
Another favorite memory was the time when Michael walked up to me, and in a barely audible voice, said that he needed new socks and “drawers.” Once I realized he was not talking about furniture, I asked for a few more details. All of a sudden, he just shouted out the word “Underwear!” I think he surprised both of us, which made him laugh and then politely respond “Hanes, size thirty-two please.”
The other thing that I remember was how Michael was always concerned about doing anything that might upset those around him. Even though we would have let him do nearly anything he wanted, Michael still took the time to leave me notes like the one you see here, explaining how he took an “ink pin” off my desk home with him the previous day.
I really enjoyed my time with Michael, and learned a lot from working with him. Even though I began my career as a lowly “runner,” I hung in there and eventually added my name to the credits of hundreds of feature films, albums, and music videos. If there is any advice I can give to someone just starting out in music, it would be that even though you may find yourself doing something other than what you expected, you are still doing something you love, which very few people get to say. And who knows, maybe one day you might even be asked to buy some socks for the King of Pop!
Rob D. teaches music recording, music theory, songwriting, bass guitar, and guitar lessons in Winston Salem, NC. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Music from Berklee College of music, and his specialties include pop/rock, country, and jazz styles. Rob joined the TakeLessons team in April 2013. Learn more about Rob, or search for a teacher near you!
Photo by miggslives