This article is for those looking to make their music their job. As I'm sure you're aware, trying to make it in the music industry is a hard and arduous road. However, after your music is perfected, your performance is unstoppable and you have an incredible product to offer (more blog posts to come on perfecting those topics); when you put in the effort to move forward in every area, your music can be more than just a hobby. If you're wondering why your music is not moving from your hobby to your job, these five ideas may help you figure that out. The term "failing musician" in this article is not meant to be harsh to the hobbyist, as that is an honorable route - but only to distinguish itself from the idea of the "successful musician" in trying to make it in the industry. If you think about it, this doesn't just pertain to music. Use these five ideas as a foundation and build upon them with your own prepared ideas, goals, and opinions.
1 - The Successful Musician Will Always Leave Their Door Open
This is a little bit more of a metaphor. What I mean by this is that successful musicians will take a gig, recording opportunity, or networking connection from anyone. A general rule that I always follow is that if you play a gig to 10 people, 1 person will walk away a fan. That's one more Facebook like, maybe youtube follower, and hopefully dollar made. The important idea behind this is that you have no idea where that one, or ten, or twenty new fans will help take you. The failing musician, will say no to many of these opportunities out of pride, time or inconvenience and lose out on the fans they could've had.
2 - The Successful Musician Doesn't Give Excuses
Troubling times will come to every musician in every shape. It is inevitable. If you aren't facing solvable problems, you're not doing enough. Whether it's a gig where no one showed up, a recording session that flopped or a campaign to get your song on radio that went nowhere... the failing musician will always find fault. This failing musician will find the problems and blame their circumstance, their lifestyle situation or even their own environment, creating a list of excuses. On the other-hand, a successful musician will always look for a solution. A failing musician will make excuses while a successful musician will take action.
3 - The Successful Musician Asks Questions
A failing musician will always make assumptions. For example: a failing musician thinks of a great idea to write an email to a musician a level up from themselves - but think - "This person won't have time." Or, "This person is too big... They're going to say no anyway." And assumes the worst. The successful musician however asks the question, "What if?" This musician creates a press page, includes links to bios, songs, and social media numbers and emails every artist they can think of; large and small without holding back. Who cares if you get 100 "no's" and 1,000 that don't reply. The successful musician might get a networking contact that helps take them to the next level or may just get that one yes that will change the course of their music career.
"The power is in the hands of those who ask the right questions." - Don't know who said it, but it's a good one.
4 - The Successful Musician Says "I"
A successful musician will always take ownership and responsibility for their own circumstance. A failing musician will use the words "they" or "them" -- "They didn't have a big enough stage." "They didn't have enough people come to their bar." "Their management was outta wack and they don't know what they're doing." If your music is solid, your live performance is good and your hard work will bring people out, there should be no "they." The successful musician uses "I" "me" and "we" -- "We could've been more prepared." "I should've asked their average attendance on that day." "I made the mistake of assuming more people would have come." Here, the difference lies within the response. If it's "they" or "them," nothing changes. The failing musician will continue down that path. The successful musician will take the blame, assume fault and fix the issue the next time around.
"You will invest more into an idea YOU believe in."
5 - The Succesful Musician Won't Settle
A failing musician will settle for their current state. A successful musician will celebrate their current success in this state, but never settle. A failing musician will settle when they reach a particular goal... Maybe they finally got to play that one venue or open for that one band or finally release their EP or album. But then what? They simply settle for their current circumstance and wait. But that's where it ends for most. Once a successful musician has momentum, the musician will focus on that momentum and use it to their advantage and work twice as hard before that momentum goes away.
In the end, learn from those who have gone before you. Don't look at celebrity highlight reels and their days of success. Notice their moments of hardship, hard work, failures, breaking moments and effort they had to give while they were trying to do what you're doing. Success will only come when you try for success, not wait for it.
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