Let’s break this question down into three categories. First, for your fundamental skills, you should become proficient with the main programs that make up the various office “suite” program sets. For instance, in Microsoft Office, that would include Word, Excel and Access.
MS Word is a word processing program that you will use for letters, flyers, resumes, and a variety of other written documents. MS Excel is a spreadsheet program that allows you to manage numbers, which is necessary for budgets, lists of contacts, etc. MS Access is a database program that is most often used as a contact manager or a database to keep track of various types of information. One example would be a database of hotels, clubs, restaurants, music stores, and equipment repair shops across the country that you would use when out on tour. Apple has its own office suite programs and there are other variations from other software companies, however the MS Office suite is the one used in most businesses.
If you aren’t up to speed on these programs, your local community college usually offers classes that will help you gain basic mastery of these programs. It’s important to have some fluency in these programs so you can manage your own career. One other fundamental skill is to have some familiarity with HTML or web page mechanics. It’s becoming increasingly important to be able to utilize the Internet whatever your music career may be.
Musicianship skills will likely require you to learn one of the music notation programs such as Sibelius or Finale. These programs allow you to sketch out your musical ideas, be it for a new song or an arrangement, and then see the score on the computer, make adjustments, hear it back as a MIDI file, and then when you’re happy with the result, print out lead sheets or parts for the musicians to play.
When it comes to sound recording skills, there are a wide variety of programs available that run on a personal computer and allow for recording, editing and mixing of your music. Although Pro Tools is the industry leader, there are many other programs that cost less and are suitable for a musician’s own sound work. A few examples would include Cool Edit Pro, Sonar and Digital Performer.
Depending on what your music career aspirations are, you may pick and choose to augment your fundamental computer skills with either or both of the other categories, but the fundamental skills are really essential for all of us in this industry.
The bottom line is that no matter what area of the music industry interests you, knowing how to use computers to create and manipulate information is an essential part of “making it” in the business today. There are also a number of other industry-specific software programs, for instance in the non-profit arts administration world, donor tracking software for development officers, that you can learn once you enter that field.
Published: Tue, 09/01/2007 - 19:48