Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
I am William Swan. I play guitar for Dance Gavin Dance, Sianvar, and Secret Band. I also own and operate a record label called Blue Swan Records. I have been touring for 10 years and had no prior business experience before starting up BSR.
What drove you to choose your career path?
The very first show I went to as child was Green Day at the Fillmore in San Francisco when I was about 12. I was blown away by their performance. I knew immediately that I wanted to play music for a living.
How did you go about getting your job?
I started some bands when I was 17 or 18. DGD started taking off when I was 20. Over the years I saw a lot of bands and labels come and go. The scene seemed really dependent on the labels and taste makers pushing music they either liked or thought they could make money from. I felt that the voice for progressive post hardcore and similar explorations of the genre was not being fully expressed so I took it upon myself to start a record label that could be that voice.
What kind of education and experience did you need?
I did not have any experience when I started the label. I have learned as we have grown and have been trying to get more knowledgeable in business on a daily basis. I had been playing guitar for 3 years when I started DGD.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
Even when at home, music is my main focus. I play a ton of guitar, bass, keys, drums and constantly write. I record a lot of music that never sees the light of day in my home studio. And writing for dgd never stops. As soon as a record wraps, I am already working on new dgd. If not working on music, I am running label errands and planning the future of Blue Swan with my friend and business partner Sergio Medina.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
None. We all party all day and hang with snoop dog smoking blunts all night. Life of a musician.
What are your average work hours?
At home, I try to take care of most of my business during the day. On tour, I take care of label business as it needs to be done. I do not usually have a guitar tech but I like changing my string and setting my tone every day.
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
There are standard things that every label does, and then there is a grey area where we try new marketing techniques and try to be the first to the punch with new trends. I try to keep the necessary bases covered, and continue to develop new ideas and be creative. As far as songwriting goes, I think everybody has their own unique style and approach to creating. It is about finding out what works for you and developing it.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
Do not be a jerk
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
I can not really think of a worst aspect. There are challenges, but there are challenges to everything in life.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
I love writing music, and I love helping great bands to be heard by as many people as possible.
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
You can lose money or you can start raking in scarface cash. The music business has no guarantees.
How do you move up in your field?
Hard work, luck, and taking advantage of opportunities.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Do it because you love it and you believe in the music and people you are surrounding yourself with.