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How Being a Musician Helped My Career in Advertising

by Steve Miller, ECD, SVP, Partner at FUSE Create (Toronto), on LinkedIn April 4, 2023

April 4th, 1994.

Before advertising, there was music. I played in a band for several years, gigging around town and playing the university circuit. We put out merch, recorded demos, and even launched our first (and only) CD on this very day, April 4th, 29 years ago. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be, but it was an invaluable experience; on stage, writing songs, being on the road, in the studio… I didn’t know it at the time, but it was laying the foundation for a career in Advertising:

Feeling Comfortable on Stage.

At 16, we played our first gig. Getting over the nerves didn’t happen overnight but eventually, I learned to feel comfortable on stage. Years later, I’d find myself on a different sort of ‘stage’… Advertising is full of performances and presentations, and finding your comfort zone is key to any great performance, no matter the stage.

The Value of Interpersonal Skills.

We were a seven-piece band, with lots of personalities, lots of opinions, and lots of ups and downs. But through it all, we were open to new ideas, listened to each other, and stayed positive. Advertising is filled with even more personalities, opinions, and ups and downs. So, of all the skills you bring to your role, the most valuable just might be your Interpersonal skills.

Songwriting is a lot like Copywriting.

I was a songwriter long before I was a copywriter. But as I entered advertising, I realized songwriting was a lot like copywriting; each tells a story, often through short and pithy prose, metaphors and allegories abound, they reward the listener/reader with poetic winks, twists, and turns, and each tries to make a meaningful connection with their ‘audience’.

An Entrepreneurial Spirit.

We were a band, but we were also a small business: band management, bookings, PR, branding, merchandise, sales, finances, distribution, and yes, advertising. It was an early introduction to independent agency life, and an early adoption of the kind of mindset that can help any agency, and your career, thrive.

A little rock down memory lane, 29 years in the making, with Mike Kelar, Daniel Kolber, Kristin Cavoukian, Jamie Attwood, Chris Coole, and Patrick Miller.

(Note : listen to Steve's band here)

Follow Steve Miller (that Steve Miller, not the joker/smoker/midnight toker!) on LinkedIn


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