When renowned producer and songwriter Mikey Bennett was 35 years old, he resigned from an executive position at the Jamaica Commodity Trading Company and took on the challenge of making a name in the music industry.
“It was required of me to take a period of leave, and after I got it, I realised I could not go back to work three weeks later,” Bennett told The Sunday Gleaner.
The love of music had always been like a cloud hanging over Bennett’s head (from childhood, to be exact) but not like one of those gray ones that warns of potentially bad weather in the distance, but a positive one. He took the opportunity to transition from his desk job to a career that has a lot of what he calls “down time”.
“Music and the culture of it is like an addictive drug,” he said. What many don’t realise is the majority of the time is not spent on a high,” he says, “It is spent waiting and waiting.”
Having worked with and gained the trust of veterans like King Jammy, Jack Scorpio, and Gussie Clarke (who offered Bennett his first publishing deal which was more than his annual salary), he eventually garnered investment from the likes of Patrick Lindsay to start an independent career/label.
“That time, records were selling. Although it was a gamble, it wasn’t as big as a gamble as it is now. Investments from traditional producers are not there like before,” Bennett said
Bennett, it seems, had many successful business-minded persons around him and a plan.
“If you seriously want to be a musician in any form, make the music force you out of the job. Let it be that one day, you wake up too tired from constant work and that at least three or four months of the usual salary is untouched and then you resign rather than force yourself to be living off dub plate and small bookings.”
Music and luck
Bennet said that unless a person is lucky to get a recording deal or has a good support system, or someone to invest, it will be complicated.
“There is a whole heap a luck in the music-business industry. Anyone can try to deny luck, but you can have all the talent in the world and no one recognize it,” he said.
Artiste manager Shelly-Ann Curran says persons can still hold 9-5 jobs and be entertainers.
“It is quite possible to do both. When there is a genuine passion for something, you will find the time.
“As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks and if we are talking a recording artiste, singer and/or musician, a hit record can happen at any time in their musical career.”
Like Bennett, Curran’s advice is to “always have a back-up, savings, and use some of the money to invest in the career you are serious about or plan to make the primary source of income” because the music industry is a storm all professionals have to learn to weather.