by Rok Gulič


The music industry has turned into a brutal business. It's no place for indecisive people. Anyone working in it will tell you this same truth. Passion and talent alone are not enough anymore (can't really vouch they ever were). The new-age knowledge platforms such as Lynda, Masterclass, Mix with the master, Puremix, and Youtube is creating more and more competition on every level in the industry.

Feeling lost and never good enough were my regular companions.  To some extent, they still are, but I have learned that I can create an edge by myself. I can do better than others if I use methods and skills I already have but have never before thought they are relevant in this industry.

So here we go. The three soft skills that helped me and might make a difference for you too.

No 1: Good presentation skills

When I entered the industry about 15 years ago, I knew nothing about presenting ideas, music, or anything basically. I was sure that music could speak for itself. Boy was I wrong.

The things or ideas you wish to have in your life were all presented to you in one way or another. The ones that were presented better are strong in you; they resonate with you better. That's due to an excellent presentation. If you wish, we can call that marketing as well.

Imagine a Ferrari presenting a new flagship model in a PowerPoint bullet-points presentation. No way you're going to trust the message, even if it's coming from a brand like Ferrari. So, do your homework and learn to present.

I started learning this by going into sales. I was a fulltime salesman for quite some years while working on my music business. Only now, connecting the dots looking backward, I understand the importance of this skill set, that I have learned while just trying to make my ends meet. How to sell yourself, your music or services is one super important skill in any industry, even more so in the music business. I understand your fear of dealing with sales; I had one too. The idea that sales are a bad thing... Well, it's not if you do it right. You can learn a great deal about it, if only you want it bad enough.

No professional salesperson (agent) will sign you up unless you at least know and understand the basic principles involved in selling what you do. So please, don't think you can buy your way out of this part of the business by signing 50% or more to your label or whatever sales partner. You'll screw it all up - that I can promise you.

No 2: Critical observation 

I am sure you know this one: “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Observe everything. Try to connect the dots all the time in anything you came across. That includes excellent visuals from artists, music, productions, new sounds, platforms, plugins, instruments, collaborations, really anything.

One fresh starting point into learning this is using a method called five times why. In short, ask yourself five times why in anything you observe. 

For example:

Billie Eilish is a fresh artist popping up at the time of writing this article.

1st Why is she considered different? 
My observation would be that she’s tapping into a rebellion within all of us in a fresh way. Staying the modern pop lane with a rock and roll attitude.

2nd Why is this attractive since other artists are playing the same card? 
I’d say it’s because she’s an individual artist in a more pop lane. Other rebellion artists are usually more in a heavy genre. Hence, we as listeners/consumers already have a stereotype on that, and she’s a bit off from it. That creates attraction or interest.

3rd Why is a present stereotype a factor in how we (or I) consume her artistry? 
We learned through evolution that giving a value (monetary or other) to an item or idea is only possible when we have something to compare it with. That’s why super innovative or experimental music is hard to internalize. We lack an anchor to tie it to.

4th Why do we need an anchor when music is usually an emotional journey that you either like or you don’t? 
When we’re born, we don’t have a full arsenal of emotions ready. We learn them as we grow. That means we tie emotions to life experiences and memories. When you hear some music style for the first time, you have no memories and connected emotions to it. But it’s a different story if you hear a new rock song for the first time and it smells like Harley Davidson. So, Billie is kind of familiar but a touch of what is expected. Just enough to make it remarkable.

5th Why we connect certain music genre or particular song to a specific emotion, brand, event…? 
Movies are a typical representation of this connection.  If you hear a song Your heart with go on by Celine Dion, it’s hard not to remember the movie Titanic and a scene or two from it. So emotional connection was made with strong visuals and story. I believe it’s almost impossible to experience that song without the emotional baggage from the movie.

Another example: you may think you have no people skills because you never learned any, but what if you look deeper?

So, you see how much knowledge and understanding of an artist (or anything for that matter) you can digest if you use this simple method and you pick your brain about it. Once you adopt it, you’ll have a hard time not doing it the first two or three layers in your head as you go through your life.

No 3: Staying organized

When you work with professionals, you expect them to be organized. They expect the same from you. Even more so, if you’re just starting out.

Before you start organising your files and loops, organise your calendar. Make sure you have a deal with yourself on what goes into your calendar and what belongs into a notepad. You have to keep your time scheduling in order. That’s the essential part of being and staying organized. If you overbook yourself by saying yes to all and everything, you’ll end up performing on average or below, and you’ll always be late. My advice would be to plan time to do things the right way. If you think you can do a song in 5 hrs, book 10.

Now that you’re ready actually to use your calendar and notepad, book time to organize your files and stick to it. First index what you have. Make categories (without overlapping) and start moving things around. Make a particular “inbox” folder where you drop everything that comes your way before you decide if it’s valuable enough to be stored into your file system. If yes, store it exactly where it belongs. Please name your folders useful for search queries. You might be asked to open a mix session from 10+ years ago. Make sure you can find the session and software that can open it! You see, it’s not just about files, but also about software installation discs, etc.

We had an OLLO Chat with William Robertson recently, when he shared an insight on how he stays organized. Watch an insert on the right or head to YouTube for the full session.


Organizing your emails, social media messages, etc.,…I’ll show you in a future blog.

Feel free to comment and elaborate on our social media channels.


Author: Rok Gulič, OLLO Audio

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