Successful professional musicians have many things in common

1. They are confident and adventurous enough to dive into their music careers headfirst.

This applies to musicians playing in an orchestra or playing gigs on weekends. There are countless stories of musicians not having any alternate plans for success. You don’t have to sleep in a car for weeks to be successful, but the fact that you’d be willing to says it all

2. They don’t mind doing things in addition to performing to make their living.

Most musicians don’t sign record labels, ever. There are some that do and become very wealthy, but most do not. Many musicians become teachers of private students or even group workshops because they have bills to pay between performances. It’s always okay to dream big, but if the only reason you want to be a musician is because you think it will make you rich, you’ll quickly get weeded out of this business.

3. They have a patient, persistent can-do attitude.

This might be the most important out of the entire list. A music career does not appear overnight, and especially not one in any of the arts. Instead of becoming preoccupied with trying to get a “big break,” the most successful musicians focus on growing their careers gradually.

4. They’re willing to work very hard on their craft every day.

No matter which type of musician you want to be, it’s essential to practice your craft every day. By doing this, you will continue to improve while others stagnate, eventually being better than most others at what you do. It is a very competitive musical world, so it’s important to be on top of your game always and be consistently raising the bar for yourself.  You will have to learn to really enjoy the process of improving and practicing as well.  If you don’t want to put in time to practice, then you will never become a professional musician.

Whether you are a fan of Ralph Moore, Willie Jones III or Terell Stafford, professional musicians all share these traits. If you are interested in learning more about these successful musicians, feel free to contact Kathy Salem!

Great Bands Require Great Teamwork

At Night is Alive, we recognize that one of the biggest elements of success in any band is to show respect for your band-mates. Great bands require great teamwork, which means that everyone can’t be the leader, but all have vital roles to play in the band’s success. Being willing to show up to rehearsals on time and in tune is one of the first steps to achieving band greatness.

You need to truly listen to the input of your other bandmates and then have one person in the band who is the executive decision maker. On a basketball team you wouldn’t have 3-point guards all calling out different plays; same goes for a band, pick a leader and they ultimately make game time plays. One person will be responsible for making the ultimate decision after listening to others’ input. These can be simple decisions like how long a song intro should go or more complex ones regarding the tempo or key that a song should be played in.

Everyone should have a chance to contribute ideas to improve the sound of the band and the quality of the performance. Everyone should be able to try ideas, especially during practice, that might result in a better sound.

All band members have critical support roles to the overall team success. It isn’t just the playing of the music that will determine the band’s ultimate destiny. Someone in the band also must be the booking agent and the collections/money distribution person. These aren’t always the same person in a band, but the band does have to agree on who will do these functions, since without a gig being booked none of the magical performances can ever happen.

A fantastic example of teamwork and band performance can be seen with Ralph Moore‘s West Coast Band and Willie Jones III‘s WJ3 All-Star Band. Both groups travel the world together, selling out venues and attracting their loyal fan bases. They never could have got to this level of jazz stardom if it wasn’t for their exceptional teamwork and communicating skills.

The Mind Behind Music

We all know based on our own anecdotal observations that musicians’ brains seem to function a little differently than everyone else’s. Well, it seems that research, in fact, does confirm that to be true. According to multiple studies, playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the brain’s corpus callosum — the bridge between the two hemispheres — allowing messages to get across the brain faster and through more diverse routes.

It is suspected that this is what allows musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively than most other people. Playing music, it seems, is extremely beneficial to higher brain function. Playing an instrument involves almost every area of the brain at once — specifically the visual, auditory, and motor cortices. And, as with any other workout, we get stronger as we repeat the same workout exercising the same muscle or our brains.

Playing music also involves creating and understanding its emotional content and message.  Therefore, musicians also have higher levels of executive function — a category of interlinked tasks that include planningstrategizing, and attention to detail, and requires simultaneous analysis of both cognitive and emotional aspects. According to the Journal of American Medicine, most non-musicians do not generally have this combination of brain function.

Playing an instrument also has an impact on how our memory systems work. And, indeed, musicians exhibit enhanced memory functions — creating, storing, and retrieving memories more quickly and efficiently. Studies have found that musicians appear to use their highly connected brains to give each memory multiple tags, such as a conceptual tag, an emotional tag, an audio tag, and a contextual tag — like a good internet search engine. This allows them to do things like being able to recall entire pieces of music that they may not have played for many years. Doesn’t it seem like they have an entire library in their minds when you make a special request and they know it perfectly without looking at sheet music? Part of this is because of those emotional tags that they seem to effortlessly access “that library” at will.

When it comes to playing music and instruments, Night is Alive represents several of the jazz industries greatest. Learn more here and feel free to contact Kathy Salem with any questions you have!

Why is Image So Important for Musicians?

There have been studies that suggest how a musician presents themselves visually is more important than their music. If you are a musician reading this, you’re probably a bit conflicted; you know that your music is an important form of expression to you, but at the same time I am sure you’ve seen other musicians who may not have your same level of skill behind their instrument and yet they seem to garner a lot more attention.

“Image is everything”, is a truism in any medium where you are going to present yourself to an audience. Even artists like Sia, who work hard to hide themselves from view, have cultivated an image (although perhaps unwittingly) that appeals to their audience.

But hey, this shouldn’t be news to anyone. Nearly every musical artist we’ve ever fallen in love with has their visual and auditory game on par with one another. So then, how do you go about sowing a strong image and reaping the benefits?

First, understand who your audience is and then play up to that. Ever notice that grunge bands all sort of looked and sounded the same? Coincidence? Nah, not at all. It was a popular movement that was defined by flannel shirts and Dr. Martens as much as static guitars and raspy vocals. Take a moment, look at your audience and cultivate a look that’s in line with your music and their ears.

Second, jump right into social media. People want a back-stage pass to your life and you should deliver whenever appropriate. Let them peer in on your day-to-day goings on. Let them meet your pets, introduce them to your favorite coffee shop, give them a world-first listen to your new riff, etc. Leverage your image by letting people experience life through your eyes.

Third, never stop branding yourself. Once you get a few likes and follows, don’t stop there, keep pushing! In a world where everyone wants to, “go viral”, you must be ready for the long haul. 99.995% of people do not become viral sensations within days. You need to be ready to work for every like and build your social media audience over time.

Forth, start marrying your music to your image. Music videos are the obvious solution here. You don’t need to craft the next award-winning motion picture – keep it simple at the start. Work with other artists in the area who are looking for exposure and see if you can form a mutually beneficial relationship.

Once you start thinking of your image as your brand you’ll soon be making better choices about to cultivate and nurture a following through the visual mediums.

From Ralph Moore to Terell Stafford, Night is Alive represents some of the industries highest ranking artists to date. To learn more, contact Kathy Salem!

What does it take to be a good manager for a musician?

To be a good music manager you need to be organized, excellent with people and have a good understanding of the industry as it stands today. Clear communication between you, your client, venue, or record label is critical for success.

Your tasks as a manager also depend on what point your client is at in their career. If an artist is already signed to a record label, you’ll need to keep in mind what they want to achieve for the musician. If you’re managing unsigned artists, your priority will be to generate as much work as possible to get them noticed and paid. Notice we said “paid”; the artists already can work for free or lose money on gigs without you.

Each different type of music has its own scene, fan base and unique way of working. You need to have an excellent understanding of this, so you are giving the artist the highest probability of success. Put them in the right environment to thrive.

Get to know the structure of the companies with whom you are dealing with. Be clear about how business is conducted, who is the decision maker and what each person is responsible for. Then reach out and grab their attention and command their respect. Having an influential network helps, so always be professional but friendly and approachable to maintain and create new contacts. Kathy Salem from Night is Alive says, “It isn’t what you know, but who you know that matters, and what they think of you.”

You will also need to be able to cope well under pressure. Dealing with a range of different characters and organizations, all with their own pressures, can be challenging. When someone loses their cool you must make sure you don’t – it’s your job to keep calm, see the strategic picture and put out the fires that other people start.

The music business is a great industry to work in, but to be a manager requires drive and determination which is driven by a passion for music. It’s fiercely competitive, but once you’ve made it, it can be one of the most fulfilling and often financially rewarding careers.

Restcble management is what defines Night is Alive. Learn how our team can assist in selling-out your music venue by contacting us today!


Why We Like FAMU

If you don’t know by now, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, or FAMU, is an academic institution that is near and dear to Kathy Salem’s heart. Back in November, four talented jazz musicians from the school were inaugural recipients of the Kathy Salem Jazz Scholarship. Salem started the scholarship because she believes that it is important to foster the talents of the next generation of jazz musicians. The scholarship allows her to support the genre of music that she loves so much and enrich the lives of aspiring performers.

So, you’re probably wondering, “Out of all the schools that she could have supported, why FAMU?”

Allow us to share a few interesting things about this university.

Founded in 1887, FAMU is the fifth largest historically black university based on enrollment and the only public historically black university in Tallahassee, Florida. FAMU is also a land-grant university.

At its start, the school was known as the State Normal College for Colored Students. Four years later, the school became a land-grant university under the second Morrill Act and its name was changed to the State Normal and Industrial College for Colored Students.

There were three Morrill Acts. One in 1862, one in 1890 and the last one in 1994. Under these acts, schools were designated to teach agriculture, military tactics, mechanic arts, and classical studies so the working class could obtain a liberal and practical education.

The second Morrill Act in 1890 was created to extend access to higher education by providing additional endowments for all land-grants, but prohibited the distribution of money to states that discriminated against students based on race. However, states that provided separate land-grant institutions for black people could receive funding.

While FAMU was eligible for the grant, it didn’t become an official learning institution until 1905. After a few more name and leadership changes, the school became known as Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1953.

Today, FAMU’s main campus has 156 buildings that are spread out over 422 acres of land. The university also has several satellite campuses in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa. FAMU enrolls around 11,000 students annually from the United States and more than 70 countries. The university offers 54 bachelor’s degree programs, 29 master’s degree programs, three professional degree programs, and 12 doctoral degree programs.

FAMU is also home to a nationally ranked Jazz Ensembles that is composed of eighteen musicians selected from approximately four hundred musicians in the university’s band program.  The Jazz Ensemble is noted for its diversity of styles and is often invited to perform at jazz festivals across the country.

These are just a few things that make FAMU special. You can read more about the school and its history, here.

Kathy Moses Salem Presents at Florida A&M University, Tallahassee

Article by Elizabeth Carney, Editor, Night is Alive

The week before Easter, Night is Alive Managing Director Kathy Moses Salem traveled to Tallahassee Florida – not for a vacation, but to give presentations at Florida A&M University. On Wednesday, April 17, she stood up in front of an audience of students and faculty to speak about her career and what it means to become a professional musician in today’s fast-paced world.


Some topics Ms. Salem touched on are universal, not merely specific to the music industry:


  • If you’re on time, you’re late.


“You know time; you can keep time; so show up on time,” Ms. Salem said.


  • Dress professionally.


“First impressions count. Make sure yours is a good one.”


  • Keep your promises.


“Don’t say something unless you mean to follow through.”


  • It’s not what you know, but who you know and what they think of you.


“Don’t be arrogant. Play well with others on and offstage! If people don’t like working with you, you won’t be hired a second time.”


  • Remember your Third Grade Teacher.


“Write with good grammar. Remember your manners. Think back to those elementary school lessons and always put your best foot forward.”


The audience was interested and engaged throughout the presentation, that, with questions, lasted a full three and a half hours (from 1:00pm-4:30pm). Students even approached Ms. Salem, interested in music management, and asked if she would be willing to mentor them. “They seemed to love it,” Ms. Salem said afterwards. “I want to change how jazz is perceived. If these young people can get out there, go to jazz clubs and be a part of the audience, then we can start to make that happen. That’s my ultimate goal.”

On Friday, April 19, Ms. Salem attended an evening jazz ensemble rehearsal at the University to personally award six scholarships to students specially selected by their professors. A need-based award, the scholarships are given in the form of a personal check to give recipients the ability to focus more clearly on their studies. “Most scholarships can only go towards tuition, which is helpful sometimes, but what if a student needs a new set of tires?,” Ms. Salem mused. “What if they need groceries, or to help pay their family’s rent that month? That’s what these scholarships are for – to help students in need so they can attend the University and study jazz.”

“On the Road with Kathy – ‘How Far to Starbucks?’”

Touring can be fun, though the time spent on the road is often long and exhausting. However, this is mainly how musicians make their living and connect to their audiences in a meaningful way. If a musician has little radio, newspaper, or magazine coverage, the road becomes their new best friend. As Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard sang in their famous 1960s recording, “On the Road Again” is the touring musicians’ theme.

With the long days and emotional demands of touring, it is no wonder that coffee becomes the touring musician’s new best friend and go-to drink. As the saying goes, “Behind every successful person is a substantial amount of coffee.” This miracle, life-supplying liquid helps one stay awake and energized, and is a go-to drink for many people. With that in mind, it is not surprising to hear a musician say “I need my coffee” in the morning.

Florida, the “Land of Sunshine,” is a very beautiful but peculiar state. The coasts of the peninsula are densely occupied whereas the population becomes scarcer and more spread out the further inland you travel. Space between towns grows, and farmland, cattle, and horses become more common than coffee shops.

During one particular tour in the middle of Florida, we had stayed overnight at an old hotel. At 9:00 in the morning the group was preparing for departure to the next gig via car (no planes or trains, only automobiles!). Everything was moving ahead nicely and we were doing well on time, when the vocalist swept into the lobby and said, “I need my coffee!” Understanding completely, I pointed her in the direction of the hotel’s free coffee bar on the other end of the lobby, conveniently available to all guests. I even had a full to-go cup in my hands.

“Oh, no,” she responded. “I need my Starbucks.” Now, we were the middle of the state with not much other than the horses and cattle nearby – and I can assure you they didn’t know the first thing about being a barista. “There is a Starbucks just down the road,” she continued, phone in hand. “Could we please go there?”

I reluctantly responded that she should to ask the band leader, who, being a nice guy, agreed to drive the group to Starbucks. Unfortunately, no one thought to ask how far or in what direction the Starbucks was from the hotel, and we had a three and a half hour commute to the next gig.

Where was the Starbucks in relation to our next destination? You guessed it – the opposite direction. How far away was “just down the road”? Twenty-five minutes. The quick coffee run turned into a full-fledged 50-minute detour. I didn’t even get out of the car when we arrived at the Starbucks, glaring at the green mermaid on the store window and fretting about how long the drive was going to be, hoping we didn’t run into detours or other problems on the road.

And that wasn’t the last of it – during the final six days of the tour, the hunt for Starbucks locations relentlessly continued. Luckily, the band was very accommodating, and it became a running joke to begin each morning with the most important question of the day: “how far to Starbucks?”


For more information about the musicians with Night is Alive, please visit our web page ( or contact directly via phone.


Article by Kathy Salem, Managing Director, Night is Alive

Revised and Transcribed by Elizabeth Carney, Content Editor, Night is Alive