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Interview with Naren Sewpaul


28 September 2006 No Comment

“If you want to be in the music business, then it is about making lots of money from your love of it. If you want to do music for the love of it then it will leave you feeling very loved and broke.”  No one really tells you this kind of thing when you start out in the music industry. In fact people rarely talk about it. We all know of brilliant musicians who work in jobs they hate. Often you hear “All I want to do is make a living doing what I love.” Now that is a fine and noble dream to have… but just now many people actually turn their dreams into a reality? And what does it really take to get there?

Fist let’s be straight and admit that most musicians do not have a clue about the industry. Even with the Internet…most musicians firmly believe that someday someone will come along and do it for them. Consider for a moment where you are in your music career…if you keep doing the same things you will be in exactly the same spot five or ten years from now. It’s time to step up. A.Hays spoke to a veteran South African musician and songwriter Naren Sewpaul to get some hints and tips.

A.Hays: What advice can you give to musicians who do not have managers to manage our careers? 

Naren: Until the moment you are lucky enough to get someone to actively manage your career it’s important that you plan your day, week, month and year OR the next five years. This will give you a clear idea of what you need to do or the areas you need to gain experience in. Once you have clearly defined goals – work towards them. 

Think of yourself as you would a business and market yourself accordingly. Most successful corporates started out small and became immensely profitable – but never by luck alone. They did their homework and invested time and money to get the results. Musicians should conduct their own market research in the industry. That way they know what their audience wants.

You could put together your own management team. Enlist your family or friends, but remember the business analogy. Choose people who are responsible, willing to work hard and understand your needs. Make sure they work in an accountable, responsible and decisive manner.

A.Hays: Are there other issues that artists have to be clued up about? 

Naren: It’s important that you spend a lot of time developing your creativity and your knowledge of the world. This will make your product (music) so much more engaging. Have fun and be open to new ideas. Know the business of music. Make sure that anything you sign makes sense and clearly indicates what’s in it for you. These days you don’t need a major record company to break into the business. Always be professional. It will earn you respect and people will know that they can count on you. Have a manager, agent, accountant and a legal adviser to represent and advise you. Remember – the value of your creativity lies in the content of your product; e.g. it’s the songs on the CD that give it value not the square box it comes in.

Rehearse! Your opening performance should run without a flaw. 

A.Hays: Are there any books or websites worth checking out?

Naren: There are a number of websites on music industry and music business issues: but check these out 


I recommend the following books…but there are many books out there … 
Donald S Passman: All you need to know about the Music Business

All You Need To Know About the Music Business: 6th Edition

Daylle Deanne Schwartz: Run your own Record Label 

Start and Run Your Own Record Label, Revised and Expanded Edition

Tad Lathrop: The Business of Music Marketing and Promotion

This Business of Music Marketing and Promotion, Revised and Updated Edition

Xavier M Frascogna: The Business of Artist Management

This Business of Artist Management (Business of Artist Management)

A.Hays: What projects are you currently involved with?

Naren: Right now I am focusing on culture industries development, artist development and mentoring in the music industry. I am a partner in a company called Thompson Research Services. It focuses on research, content creation and business development.

It’s a fact that many successful people have their fingers in many pies. Rarely do they stick to one thing only. Take a look at any successful artist. Many of them have launched their own range of products (clothing line for e.g.), tried their hand at acting or written a book. Similarly do not limit yourself. Always try new things. 

Doing what you love and getting paid for it is not an easy thing. People love moaning about the things they don’t have or the things they can’t do or have. It’s an easy enough thing to do. Still the fact is that help is out there. Sometimes it’s as simple as typing words in a search engine or just asking someone a question.

Interview by A.Hays

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