It is often said that any experience is good experience, and I’m finding that, as I progress in my career, my extensive training in music has proven to be the most helpful asset in becoming the successful marketer that I am today. I grew up in a family full of classical musicians, which naturally led to me starting to play the harp at age three. I also loved to sing and attended the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, a highly extraordinary and competitive performing arts magnet high school, as a vocal major.
Knowing that I wasn’t passionate enough about my music to fully devote my life to it, I chose a career in marketing, which has proven to be even more creative, cerebral and rewarding than I ever would have imagined. Even more surprising to me was discovering how my musical roots have helped me become a more successful and effective media professional. While my love of music these days mostly manifests itself in private harp jam sessions at my house or a few rounds of karaoke per year, here are 10 ways my musical upbringing has also helped me to become a more effective and skilled media professional:
1. I know how to work with varying personalities.
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Did you know that there are common personality traits among musicians based on the instrument that they play? I’ve dealt with them all, so all of the more “creative” personalities that I meet in the marketing world aren’t so bad!
2. I can take constructive criticism and grow from it.
In music and in marketing, there’s no time for your feelings to get hurt when you are given criticism. Just do it better next time. Or else.
3. Music powers me through difficult projects.
My fellow Elasticians all know that I’m really working hard on something if I’m listening to any ballet scores or operas on Spotify. When I put my headphones on, the rest of the world disappears and my focus is aimed directly towards the task at hand. Some people drink Red Bull, others take a shot of Fireball, but I listen to Tchaikovsky.
4. I have a deep understanding of complex systems.
5. I’ve got mad karaoke skills.
6. I’ve got a long history of knowing how to lean into the chaos.
The show must go on. This phrase may come from show business, but I live this mantra every day. It doesn’t matter if someone is coughing up a lung in the office or if your hair sets on fire during your solo, you finish what you started! Agency life gets pretty hectic, with lots of competing priorities always battling against each other all at once. At these times, I tell myself that the show must go on, and I power through it.
7. Presentations and public speaking occasions don’t even make me break a sweat.
When you spend your entire childhood and early adulthood performing your craft in front of crowds of people, client presentations or industry panels are a piece of cake!
8. Music taught me to see the bigger picture.
In choir, if you want to have a full understanding of all of the elements of a particular piece of music and coordinate together more seamlessly, you must learn and sing all of the other parts in addition to your own.The same could be said of agency life. In order to coordinate with other experts to create cohesive, well-executed campaigns, I have to understand and respect my counterparts’ contributions and expertise.
9. I’m committed to achieving nothing less than perfection.
Many outsiders don’t know this, but musicians are relentless perfectionists. We agonize for hours over a single phrase until we can get it to sound just right. That amount of tedious attention to detail means I can really scrutinize and analyze the performance of the campaigns that I manage, giving me the ability to pull out meaningful data points for future campaigns.
10. My background gives me a deeper understanding of our arts clients.
After joining Elasticity, I was able to work on a campaign to promote the Regional Arts Commission STL Arts app, a fully comprehensive arts and culture events app for St. Louis. I have enjoyed every minute of it, because I’m passionate about both the project and the arts community. Our campaign won an award for excellence in arts marketing, and I look forward to the many other opportunities that are opening up to our agency to take on more arts work, as this is a subject that is clearly very near and dear to my heart.
Now it’s your turn!
What experiences have shaped your career in unexpected ways?