“ By making room for others in your music you will find a great deal of space for your own growth and expansion. “ - Daniel Shane Thomas


Daniel's first employment in the entertainment business was at Tulsa Oklahoma's rock radio station, KMOD.  His mother was employed at the station as the accountant and this afforded him the opportunity for part time employment during summer months.   

The importance of this first job in setting Daniel's professional trajectory cannot be overstated.  It was here that he was first exposed to professional studios, the business of music promotion, and many industry professionals.  In fact, it was the Technical Director at the radio station who gave Daniel his very first mixing desk, a dysfunctional dusty relic from the 1940's that featured giant knobs and crackling tubes- not one channel of the mixer would pass a signal to the output buss.  But this mattered little to Daniel who went to work in his mother’s garage trying to repair the beast.  A passion was born. 

An affiliation to the local rock radio station had a special meaning for a young person- it meant that Daniel had tickets, excellent seats, often in the front row or, with backstage passes, for nearly every touring band that visited Oklahoma. From a young age, Daniel enjoyed an extraordinary access to many levels of the entertainment industry in his home state.
  
Many of the staff at KMOD were also residents at Tulsa's American Theater Company where Daniel also served as an intern and was eventually employed as a member of the company.  Similarly, these same creative teams introduced Daniel to Tulsa's recording studios, including Leon Russell's famed Church Studio, where Daniel held a studio internship.  
In this rich creative context, Daniel found no shortage of opportunities to develop artistry.  He learned stagecraft under the guidance of world-class set designers and stage managers.  He acted, sang and danced with commissioned directors, he mixed monitors and front of house for touring rock acts, and understudied for seasoned musicians in house bands. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to him on the sidelines of India International Guitar Festival 2016.

What are some of the biggest differences you’ve seen in this business?  
              
Musicianship demands a great deal of its practitioners.  It is a holistic and fundamentally spiritual pursuit;  beyond career, beyond craft. Musicianship is not a free ride or a boondoggle.   On the contrary, musicianship demands the highest degree of devotion, self-discipline and humility and she rewards these efforts with spiritual and communal connection beyond measure.  The skills which musicians develop are applicable in all aspects of our lives.  So, I find it ironic that professional musicians are so often depicted as contributing little of value in society at large.    

There’s a lot of talk about how you can’t just be a musician today in the business – you have to also be a businessman, manage your social media, build your brand etc. What is your view on this? 

Regardless of career path (musician doctor lawyer stage grip trashman what ever) , we each have opportunity for renaissance in our work life.   Diversifying of role is not a dilution of skill / ability -  rather, it is the focusing of core skills which inform all other efforts.  For instance,  young musicians who devote themselves to mastering the craft of their instrument are also devoting themselves to the craft of learning itself, and to the craft of listening better, and to the craft of honest self assessment.  All of these skills are universally applicable - it is in this way that a singular focus (like musicianship) can develop the universal principles which foster a diversity of capacities.  This is necessary in all careers, not just music.         

Talking about building a career in music industry, what is the basic requirement?

Persistence and flexibility.  Love all music and meet all musicians where they are at.   Try not to wed oneself to elite notions of musicianship or genre.  Yesterday’s noise can be tomorrow’s music.  By making room for others in your music you will find a great deal of space for your own growth and expansion.    

How one should train oneself to make sure he/she has gained a good foundation?

Begin by honoring the forefathers of your genre.  Study the music you wish to purvey and be sure to play it authentically;  do not skip over the fundamentals.  Master music theory (according to your cultural norm) and master your instrument with practice practice practice.  Enjoy fleeting norms in popular music, but do not allow them to lower your personal performance standards.    Always push for higher standards in your musicianship even if these standards are not reflected in current popular music.  Your robust musicianship will serve you well throughout many decades in the industry while, slavish devotion to a single sub genre will limit your opportunities as a professional musician.  

Do you believe honest plug –in-and –play music can survive technological advancements, software, Dj's etc?

ABSOLUTELY!  Musical instruments do not replace musicians -  they augment musicians!  DJ tools, looping technologies, arpeggiators, etc,  are only a continuation of musical instrument innovations…  Like notable innovations from the past (i.e. electric guitar) these new sounds spawn musical genres and open the door to music creation for many who otherwise might not ever be heard.  I love this and welcome all new comers to the fold!   The presence of new sounds and new music production methods does not negate the value of prior music and production methods.  In fact, I believe it just increases our cross pollination and innovation opportunities.  More new music.. More new ways to make it!  Bring it on!    

There’s a feeling now, a concept that music should be free, that it’s like oxygen, everyone should have access to it. Everyone should have access, but should it be free?

Music is a transformational power of the highest order - all music, all cultures, all people can share in this divine connection.  The universal principles which bind humanity are deeply conveyed in the musics of our people.  Regardless of belief or cultural norm,  music re-establishes our universal connection points -  the places from which we build a better world for all peoples.  In this sense, Music must be freely given and freely received and I am personally devoted to this cause.   That said, musicians have to eat too. 

Music is craft which requires decades of devotion.  There are mountains of effort behind every note played (DJ's and electronic music artists included).  Further, the production of music is a costly endeavor requiring many technical skills and specialized tools as well as international travel.  To compare a business of such complexity to an ever present compound like Oxygen just strains credulity.   If musicians stop tuning, practicing,  composing, and traveling, oxygen will still exist.  But music most certainly will not — 

What is your vision of what music can do in this age of political and economic turmoil? 

It is such a great time to be a professional musician!  Perhaps not for economic reasons, but for altruistic and artistic reasons.   On an unprecedented global scale, music will play a critical part in reuniting humanity over the coming decades.  It is a very special moment in the history of Earth and her people. We musicians have an important part to play as harbingers of much needed, positive change.    I am so grateful to be alive in this time and in partnership with so many gifted international musicians.   

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