We caught up with the brilliant and insightful P. Manzell Bledsoe a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
P. Manzell, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Are you able to earn a full-time living from your creative work? If so, can you walk us through your journey and how you made it happen?
July 2022 marks 7 consecutive years of making a full time living from my craft. I am very proud of that because in the music business nothing is guaranteed. The music business is one of those ‘twilight zone-like’ career areas where 7 years is infancy, but is also somehow, a good long stretch to be successful (go figure). I’ve seen careers that have lasted 25 years, and I’ve seen careers that have lasted 2 years. For me, I believe the success I am experiencing now is just the residual of never quitting. Timing was important too. Making a living is not something you just do tomorrow, or at least it wasn’t for me. It happened bit by bit over a span of time. If you keep pursuing your art, with pure intent, and refining your skillset you will eventually get opportunities, and if you don’t, you must be willing to CREATE them. The days where artist sat around waiting to be discovered by some major label to then be swept off on a fast track to stardom and fame are a thing of the past. In today’s music business you’re going to want to create your own lane. Still, one of the realest questions an artist must ask himself is: When you get the opportunities what will you DO with them? How will you USE them to propel you to your ultimate goal? What IS your ultimate goal? These are questions of MINDSET and it’s the one area most artists never realize they need to strengthen as equally as those songwriting skills.
I once read an article that explained how every person has SOMETHING that they naturally do better than the next 10,000 people! That means we all possess a skill that is valuable to the marketplace. The sooner one can identify and monetize that skill, the sooner one can begin to live a life that aligns with their purpose.
As far as making money goes, as creatives we all start for free. Way before we can make a dime we spend hundreds, and in some cases THOUSANDS of hours learning our craft. Artists never stop creating for the passion of it, but at some point, we must start THINKING like businesspeople. Somewhere along the line creatives adopted this idea that if we care too much about making money that we are somehow belittling our art. That’s a sentiment that has damaged art in my opinion.
For me personally, one of the major turning points towards making actual money with my talent was seeing real life examples of people who were actually doing it. That select group of artists who were making good money and working a lot. Not celebrities, but regular people I could talk to and learn from. That exposure was invaluable, because once I seen that it was really possible to make an honest living with music my mind expanded. I knew I could do it too. From there I couldn’t turn it off. For some years I spent all day thinking of ways I could make money from my current skillset and how I could expand on those skillsets or add more skills to earn even more money. Little by little those seeds grew into a business. I firmly believe that if I stay flexible and continue to practice these habits my art and income will not only thrive for years to come but also continue to expand.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
For those that don’t know me Hello! My name is P. Manzell Bledsoe and I am a Professional Saxophonist, Composer, and Educator. The focus and goal of my work is to positively impact the lives of others. I use music to uplift and encourage humanity, one song at a time.
Music is very powerful. It can literally shift the energy and atmosphere, so whether I’m hired to play a special song for a couples 50th Wedding Anniversary or commissioned to write a musical composition to celebrate Black History Month my goal is to create an EXPERIENCE and give the music, and my audience my all every single time!
Manzell Bledsoe Music LLC Provides a range of entertainment services including:
Live Music for Special Event, Weddings and Corporate Events. From a small jazz trio for an elegant cocktail hour to a Rowdy 10-piece party band to dance the night away with, I offer bands in all sizes for any occasion!
Professional DJ Services for Special Events, Weddings and Corporate Events
Professional DJ/Sax Combo Services for Special Events, Weddings and Corporate Events
One on One/Group Music Lessons for Saxophone/Flute/Clarinet. I specialize with working with beginners of all ages! Our Lesson Studio Students work hard but have a LOT of fun! Virtual or In- Person Lessons available.
Composition/ Arranging Services. Professionally scored horn arrangements or compositions in all genres for select artist on a case-by-case basis.
Saxophone Recording Services Professionally recorded, high quality saxophone solos in all genres for select artist on a case-by-case basis.
If I had to say something I am most proud of It would simply be to be a part of a noble clan. A special niche of society that chose art thru good or bad! Those, like my heroes, who kept nurturing their craft until the day that infant grew up big enough to finally take care of them! It’s an honor that not everyone gets to experience. To be a Professional (PAID) musician comes with great responsibility. I am proud that over years of practice, mentorship, observation, planning and HARD WORK I forged a set of skills that now allows me to make a living doing something that aligns with my values, benefits others, gives me immense joy and affords me a great living. That’s why every time I get the chance to touch my saxophone or be around music I am in an extreme state of gratitude. I think my audiences feel that energy and it’s one of the factors that make my music appealing and special.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
Absolutely! About 4 years ago I learned that I had Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL) in both my ears! One of my ears has moderate hearing loss while the other ear has suffered severe hearing loss. Obviously, as a professional musician I was terrified, frustrated and quite frankly, humiliated. The thought of having to wear hearing aids for the rest of of my life, especially at such a young age was soul crushing. I feared that my peers may ostracize me, or I wouldn’t be considered for certain jobs anymore.
Thru prayer, sheer determination and a strong sense of purpose, I decided that instead of becoming a victim I would become an advocate! I would live my life BIG despite my deficiencies and I would help others do the same! I began a journey of studying my hearing loss so I could learn how to beat it. I began learning ways to redesigning my saxophone practice sessions to account for my hearing loss. I began to learn how to protect the precious hearing I have left when I’m playing different gigs professionally.
Now years later I can honestly that I’m on top of the world and despite my hearing loss I am moving boldly, full steam ahead towards my destiny! The best is yet to come!
Can you share your view on NFTs? (Note: this is for education/entertainment purposes only, readers should not construe this as advice)
Awesome question! I’m a total Cryptohead! I consider myself an early adopter of NFTs having acquired my first NFT in December of 2020. It’s truly amazing to see how NFT’s have evolved over time! To witness art NFT’s selling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars is really a cool thing to see and it’s a testament to how art is evolving. The rules of access and exposure are rapidly changing, as are the rules of OWNERSHIP, which is something that all artists need to understand! I recently saw an artist release a music single as an NFT and generated 209ETH ($1,000,000+) in sales in less than 3 hours! I am a big advocate of Crypto and Blockchain Based Technologies because I think they have the potential to truly solve real world problems. In the coming years I see NFT’s being heavily integrated into the way we purchase, sell and store music, art, sports and entertainment memorabilia, video games and even real estate!
- Website: www.ManzellBledsoe.com