Musician Michael League of the band Snarky Puppy came to talk to college and degree-level students on Thursday 7 November. During his talk, he spoke about his experiences – good and bad – of the music industry.
Coming from a background playing bass in jazz bands and church services across America, Michael League went on to form Snarky Puppy; an ensemble made up of a handful of talented musicians. With an ever-changing lineup of musicians – depending who can play at that time – Snarky Puppy is always fresh and versatile, and League explained in his talk that the process of working in such a large group is a sort of “democratic dictatorship”.
“We’re very collaborative – everyone can have their say, and decide what works and what doesn’t on a track – but ultimately we won’t do it unless everyone is happy to some extent.”
League shared some pearls of wisdom from his time in the industry – explaining how he places his art at the centre of everything he does, rather than focusing on fame, ticket prices and the more shallow side of being a musician.
League highlighted the three most important qualities that any successful musician must possess:
“Musicianship and being great at your art, being responsible and easy to work with – turning up on time and knowing your music, and then having a great attitude. Be someone people want to invite to play with their band – be cool, humble, and solution-based.”
He went on to talk of the best piece of advice he was given about which gigs to take.
“I was given the best advice about which gigs I should be booking – if they ticked any of these boxes, I would go ahead with them. These included making money, playing with friends and growing musically. If I got any of these from a gig – and better still, two or all three – I wouldn’t miss it.”
Lastly, he spoke about the importance of your art and how that should be the focus at all times.
“Don’t let the world shape your art, or feel like you need to change to become the person they want you to be. Instead, you should be working out how to best represent your art.”
We want to give a big thanks to Michael League for delivering this engaging and fascinating talk that had the crowd in stitches – we look forward to seeing what Snarky Puppy do next!