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Who Are You? (What's Your Music Business Background?)


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Hi. I'm Pete, one of the administrators/founders of this forum. My credentials for this area:

* Assistant to the Director at the largest church (at the time, at least) in Western New York. This means I've done everything from getting a bad hernia carrying tympani up stairs to music transcribing and arranging.
* Music director/department creator and head for a small, bankrupt church in Tucson. Managed copyright through CCLI, but I might have some problems remembering details that old.
* Played and/or sang with several "touring" church groups over an approximately 20 year career. Attempted forming a jazz ensemble, too.
* Recorded on two different CDs, so I've got some idea about herding people for those kind of projects and how much work it takes.
* I've worked as an office manager and accountant for an all-union shop, so I have some insight on that.

Relax. I'm here to help.
I'm guessing you want people to add to the post, so here goes.

I'm Bob "Notes" Norton. I'm a career musician and have been for most of my life (I did try two day-gigs while being a weekend warrior, but they didn't work out for me).

Although I started on drums in Junior High School, I moved to tenor sax quickly (as soon as a rental was available) and by the time I got to high school, I sat first chair AND section leader in the all-state band every year I was eligible. Being section leader was a coup for a tenor player, as it goes to the first alto by default. I never got less than a superior in a solo contest. (OK I'm bragging a little).

After school I went on the road in a rock band and ended up warming up in concert for major stars of the day like The Four Seasons, The Kingsmen, The Association, etc, and eventually the Motown artists (Marvin Gaye, Supremes, Miracles, etc.). I even played bass with Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon for a short stint. Although I was the sax player in the band, I was showing the bass player the licks to a song (I pick up things quickly) and so Freddie said I should play the bass as it was more important than the sax (I disagree <grin>). The recording deal with Motown unfortunately fell through as our manager wanted us to get paid and Motown didn't want to part with any money. The band broke up after that I that's when I tried my first day gig.

I also tried playing jazz once and got to jam with people way out of my league like Ira Sullivan and Duffy Jackson, but found there wasn't either as much money or as much fun playing jazz as playing commercial music. That's when I had my second day gig which was needed to support teh jazz habit. (The guitarist in the group used to play guitar for Ira and some of the greats would sit in with us).

I've performed in just about any venue a musician can play in, from bars where they passed the hat, to show clubs, to cruise ships, to hotel lounges, to "animal clubs", to concert stages and everything else in between.

Right now I'm approaching Senior Citizen status (I consider myself middle-aged though) and I'm playing in a duo with my wife of 33 years http://www.s-cats.com - she is a great singer (much better than me) and she plays guitar and tactile MIDI controller (Buchla Thunder).

I'm currently singing, playing sax (just tenor, I leave the alto at home and sold the soprano), wind synth (WX5/VL70m/TX81z), guitar (lead and rhythm), flute, some keys (right hand on the keys, left on the joystick), and I make my own backing tracks http://www.nortonmusic.com/backing_tracks.html for my duo. I also play bass and drums but I haven't played either in years (you can only schlep so much to the gig).

I also write aftermarket style and fake disks for the auto-accompaniment program, Band-in-a-Box, and styles for Microsoft Songsmith at Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com where I've sold my wares to over 100 countries on planet earth.

So far, other than those two short day gigs, I've made my living doing music and nothing but music. I've done it on my own terms, making my own decisions and either profiting from the good ones or hopefully learning from the bad ones.

A wise man once said, "If you make a living doing what you would do for free, you will never work a day in your life" -- and so far other than those short day gigs, I've never worked a day in my life. I've played.


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I play woodwinds for a living, and I also fix horns.

As a woodwind doubler, I operate in a large metropolitan area. In my own opinion, I am not called because I am particularly great at any one musical skill. I play lots of horns, and I play lots of styles. I show up early, and I'm well prepared, and I don't pi$$ people off. I have unusual depth in some musical styles (R&B, commercial, dixieland) and I play other styles well enough to make everyone happy.

I turn down heavy symphonic gigs that are beyond my capabilities. The orchestral players are my friends and I don't want to embarass them. There are plenty of schooled legit players who have the background to cover those gigs. I can play the symphonic saxophone gigs, and I love to play with my orchestral friends, but just because I play lots of bass clarinet, don't assume I'm the "go-to" guy for Stravinsky.

So what does this mean? By all means, go to music school, although I did not do that. In this day and age, everyone is well trained. I'm only good because I've done it for 40 years. Be as prepared as possible for any type of job, but know your limitations. Be able to confidently say "Yes" to as many jobs as possible - versatility is very important, and learning comes from bashing away at gigs that are not always worthwhile or satisfying.
I used to play in a couple of community bands, last one was with OldDick.

I am a progressing amature repairman and try to keep an eye on issues of instrument values. I am happy to give non-proffessional appraisals, for what they're worth.


Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
I am a rank amatuer who created four ensembles so that I could play regularly. The surviving groups are now part of a Washington State non profit for adult music education called "The Dissonance".
Microsoft Jazz Band: in our 6th year and starting to get decent. More often then not we get paid.

Pacific Cascade Big Band: Took the left overs from a way too large community jazz band. Added some ringers. The hobbyists couldn't or wouldn't commit to the required workload so after 1.5 years, I left the band. It hasn't played a gig since then.

Professor Gadget Sax Quartet: in our fifth year, struggling along as we don't have the time to practice every week. Still, it's a fun group to be a part of.

The Dissonance, a jazz xTet: where x = the number of folks who showed up. This group really provided an opportunity to be soloing, all the time. Again, it died because we just couldn't commit to practicing enough. As this was early in my return to music, the recordings of me soloing are hard for me to listen too.
I also have been the Event Director for the three bands that make up the Woodinville Community Band. I have done a number of musicals on book I and usually now, reed book 4. And I sub all over town.