Practical and psychological strategies for making your way in the music business

“Cuomo brings a deep and thoughtful perspective to a crazy business”

Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with a large number of advanced music students and emerging professionals in relatively informal settings. I’d talk about my experiences, people would ask questions, there would be some generally enjoyable and informative back and forth.

Over time I began to notice a pattern: similar questions and concerns kept coming up. These weren’t musical questions, but focused on practical concerns. Over and over I heard, “What’s the best way to meet people in the industry? Can I find a mentor? How do you learn about collaborating? How do I get a job?” And as I thought about the best way to answer these questions, I began to realize that underlying these concerns were larger psychological or even philosophical concerns, about how to make your way happily and successfully in the world as a musician, as an artist. It became clear to me that the day to day concerns and the larger, more ephemeral matters were two sides of the same coin.

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring for myself how the practical and the psychological weave together, and I realized that by sharing openly what I’d observed in the music business, and what I’ve learned though all my hardships and successes I could help others make their way through this difficult terrain. With this in mind I put together the Musicians Survival Toolkit, a workshop that draws on candid talk and analysis of both my “successes” and “failures” to prepare young musician/artists for the path ahead.

There are challenges to a life in music, but there is also plenty of joy and exhilaration, when it’s done right. I want to prepare you to embrace all of that and not just to survive, but to thrive.

The Musicians Survival Toolkit is offered to small groups of individuals as well as to institutions. I welcome performers or composers of all kinds.




"Along with his wide-ranging knowledge and experience, Cuomo brings a deep and thoughtful perspective to a crazy business." --Jeff Kimball, documentary filmmaker, and Founding Head of Music, Miramax Films.

"I don't know anyone who knows more about so many different aspects of the music business. Doug Cuomo has been through it and he can teach you a lot" --Carl Sturken, record producer, songwriter, responsible for signing and developing global superstar Rihanna.

"Cuomo provided critical insights into the challenges and opportunities in becoming successful in the music business. I highly recommend any aspiring musician seeking a career in music attend this presentation. You will hear frank insights and perspectives you will not learn in school. Personal anecdotes and life lessons are as eye-opening as they are informative." --Dr. Cecilia Michelle Huerta, cellist

"I learned a great many things from Doug about music and the music business. Among the most important is how being a good, honest person will take you further in life than anything else. In the music world, you can't always choose your destiny, but building relationships and having a strong drive and creative ideas will make more good things happen." --Derek Baird, composer

"Doug Cuomo is so much more than a great musician and composer. He also has a keen understanding of cinematic expression and narrative storytelling, making him just about the perfect collaborator on every project we’ve done together."--Tom Casciato, filmmaker and television executive

"Having the opportunity to bring Doug Cuomo to campus and work with my students was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of us. Watching him inspire my students to reach beyond their grasps was an experience that I will never forget, nor will my students!" --Marcos Carreras, Coordinator or Vocal Music, Kingswood Oxford School, West Hartford, CT


Douglas J. Cuomo has composed for prime time network television, (including the theme for Sex & The City), opera, documentary films, orchestra, commercials, and theatre.

He has written for or collaborated with such artists as Denyce Graves, Terence Blanchard, Chris Botti, Maya Beiser, writer/producers Darren Starr, Tom Fontana, Barry Levinson and Glenn Gordon Caron, and playwright/screenwriter/director John Patrick Shanley.

His music is heard throughout the world on television, recordings and in cinemas, as well as in live venues including Carnegie Hall, The Temple of Dendur in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Ravinia Festival in Chicago. He has performed in the pit on Broadway, in casinos in Las Vegas and at clubs including Birdland, The Beacon Theatre, and the Knitting Factory. View full bio...



Doug has lectured on music, collaboration and creativity and the business of art at numerous institutions including:

New York University
Wesleyan University
University of Miami
University of California, San Diego
City College
Brooklyn College
Hunter College
Hofstra University
Long Island University
American Composers Forum
The Asia Society
The Rubin Museum
The Guggenheim Museum
Opera America
The Carnegie Hall Choral Institute
The US Navy CNO Strategic Studies Group
Grant Park Music Festival