Networking for Life

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume 115, No. 6June, 2015

Siena Shundi, LCSW-R

Musicians pick up valuable skills and tips at our seminar

Siena Shundi, LCSW-R

Siena Shundi, LCSW-R

This spring, the Musicians’ Assistance Program partnered with the Actors Fund Work Program to sponsor a free networking seminar series for professional musicians called “Managing Your Music Career.” The response was great, with over 30 musicians participating. I facilitated the program along with Patch Schwadron, the career counselor supervisor at the Actors Fund Work Program.

Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi and Recording Vice President John O’Connor kicked off the series with an introduction to Local 802, how the union helps musicians, and why networking is so essential in the changing industry.

For the initial seminar, Patch and I provided an overview of resources and strategies available to working musicians in the New York City community, including my own office and the Actors Work Program. Patch then led an initial meet-and-greet for musicians, which was also a lesson in how to network face-to-face and the art of making a good impression. It was a very diverse and inspirational crowd – there were jazz musicians, pop and R&B singers, classical composers and orchestra musicians and music professors. Musicians even drove in from out of state to attend. Everyone quickly began to engage each other and mingle from the start. Also, we were able to give practical advice – several participants approached me with questions about how to apply for financial assistance at Local 802 and find affordable housing.

The second seminar was all about time and money. Did you know there are 168 hours in a week? It sounds like a lot of time, right? Career Counselor Ell Miocene got everyone focused on how they use their time (or don’t). Her supportive and spirited approach had everyone reflecting. The consensus was that many members are spending a great deal of time on social media that could be more focused. (More on that in a minute.) Next, our instructor Amanda Clayman helped musicians look at behavior and money. She challenged and dispelled some of the typical and self-defeating labels that artists give themselves when they struggle with money, and she outlined how to create healthier habits with organizing finances for the variable and unpredictable moments in an artist’s career.

Local 802 member Ken Robinson then kicked off the third seminar on marketing with some humor and a discussion about how to use social media for professional networking. He focused on Facebook and Twitter, and also gave advice on how to stay on top of new media online. (Here’s a tip – check out for the latest social media trends.)

Entertainment career coach Jim Arnoff led a fiery coaching session with participants, teaching everyone to “be specific!” when introducing themselves at a networking event, avoiding words that imply “pursuing,” and staying focused on the quality of a reciprocal matches rather than the quantity. He also emphasized the importance of having business cards with you at all times.

At the closing, Christopher Bloodworth, the director of the Actors Work Program, greeted members and discussed how the program is focused on developing career workshops with musicians in mind. I announced the starting of a monthly networking group for musicians at Local 802. Many participants signed up and expressed enthusiasm. The group will continue to build upon the skills, relationship building and mutual support of these seminars, and will have guest speakers. If you would like to join us, e-mail me at Ideas for topics are welcome.

Participants were especially enthusiastic about marketing and showed an interest in attending the extensive seminars on managing money and marketing that the Actors Work Program offers. Everyone who attended this seminar series became a member of the Actors Work Program and now has access to free career counseling as well as all the free seminars and trainings. Don’t worry if you couldn’t make it – all Local 802 members are eligible to become a member of the Actors Work Program. Just attend a free orientation, every Monday from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at 729 Seventh Avenue, on the 10th floor. You don’t have to sign up or make a reservation – just show up – but you must be on time.

In addition to the networking group, my office will be partnering with the Actors Work Program to offer other career-related events for musicians at Local 802, so stay tuned!

The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at or (212) 397-4802.