These are five of the top reasons why you will fail at a music career. It may sound like it is coming off a little harsh.
That's because it is.
Too many musicians put too much energy and effort into talking about why things have not happened or why things
are not working for them. Everyone has reasons, justifications and rationale to explain why they are failing, yet
these same artists do not take the steps to problem solve, change direction, learn, educate or empower themselves
with the knowledge and the tools to change the path.
Egos are a sensitive thing and musicians, as well as other artists, are very sensitive. Add stubbornness and
delusions of grandeur to ego and you get a failure trifecta. The music industry has changed. It is not what it
was twenty five years ago and, hell, it is vastly different than what it was even five years ago.
It's the musician's responsibility to learn the industry and the changes that are currently happening. Then
formulate a clear understanding of what has to happen in order to ensure success. You must have problem solving
skills. You must have the tools and patience to do the drudge work. You must watch for mistakes and missteps
just as you watch for opportunities and new avenues. It is crucial to make corrections to keep yourself on the
path to success.
Here are five of the top reasons or excuses for failure that I hear all too often. I've listed the reasons
why they are bad and a way to look at them in a different light.
5. My friends tell me I am great. My fans love me and tell me I should be a star. Everybody loves me and I
got a ton of reviews so I am in the right direction.
Congrats! Your friends like you and you have connected with some new fans. This is positive, but not something
on which to base your business approach. When positive things are coming your way via comments, messages and
personal reviews, then work to find magazines, websites and more reputable organizations and media to say the
same thing. When you have a whole bunch of comments on your website or any of your social networks, you are in
the same boat as everyone else. Many artists get cocky at this point and think world wide success is
just around the corner because a song got 10,000 plays and some cute girl on myspace commented that she loved it.
Now is the time to work on getting 10,000 sales of that song. Now is the time to go after reputable media
to review your music or your band. Now this is the time to work even harder and not get cocky. This is how you
capitalize on successes. This is how you differentiate yourself from the thousands of other bands that think
they are on the brink of success. If you do not, success may just be around the corner, but it will be at a
day or night job working at a corner store.
4. I don't need to worry about the business. The songs will take care of themselves. I don't need to put
the work into the business because it is about me and the music. I just need a manager or a label to take
care of everything.
Great attitude. Just sign away the rights to everything then. Let some manager or label do the work. Okay,
first off, a lot of labels out there have no idea what they are doing at all. They have templates of old
record label contracts that they get you to sign. You then lose all sorts of percentages you are unaware
of and they have rights to you without doing anything. On the other side of the coin, say by the smallest
chance you get a solid deal, you are still giving up a great deal of ownership to other people to do work
that you could easily help with and retain more of a percentage.
The reasons why you need to know the business are paramount and a book within itself. Here's a summary:
This is my understanding of this sentence: The minute you sign contracts, you are giving other people
rights to all aspects of your musical presence. These 'other people' may or may not know what they're doing.
It is required to know what these people are doing with your music, your booking you image, etc., what
they can do and what could happen if things go well, just as you should know what could happen if things
You do need to worry about the business. Whether you are independent or going to a label or manager, you
need a crystal clear understanding of what is being done with your musical presence. Otherwise you will'
I repeat--you will be screwed!
3. This artist did it 10/20/30 years ago/ They didn't worry about this, why should I? These things
worked for them. I am copying them and I will have the same success.
Gas prices were cheaper 10/20/30 years ago. We didn't have a lot of things back then we do now. Why
[the hell] are you expecting the exact same methods used years ago to work today?
This is one of the most foolish ideas I hear, and I hear it all too often. From logos, to recordings,
to what it costs to put out an album, you cannot use the facts of the past to define the truth of the
present. While certain aspects may apply, you need to be smart enough to understand change and what the change is.
If you are so sure that what Duran Duran did with Rio is the short answer to success, then I guess
you should also have tens of thousands of cassettes made. Oh wait. People don't use cassettes much
anymore. This also goes for how marketing works, how recording works, how soliciting works. Things
have changed. Be aware of the change and consider that the elements that may have worked twenty years
ago may not be applicable to today.
2. If I just had the money, the backing, the ears, or if this famous person hears the music...
This is heard at every bar, music venue and music shop: if things were different. Well, you know
what, if the world was flat, then it wouldn't be round. There you go. This statement wastes time
and energy that could be used to find ways to get investors or donors, work on a solicitation package
for assistance or support from a manager, a label or a talent buyer.
Get out of the excuses and get into going after what you want and figuring out how you are going
to get it. It is all about productively and effectively building the promotion, marketing and branding
in your solicitation to be recognized by people in the industry. It goes well beyond the song.
You have to be the whole package and worth the investment. Think about it: the upper level executives
receive thousands of packages. They need to be impressed enough by the package itself in order to open
it up and listen. They see you before they hear you. Keep that in mind.
On the other side, get real. Do you honestly think if a famous person hears you that all the sudden
you will be signed to a multi-album deal? Not gonna happen. He or she can recommend you, they can send
something along. But they're just one person. Would you rather have one person hear your music or tons
of industry professionals who might be willing to help you?
Plan according to research. Examine and create lists of people that will look at your type of package,
listen to your type of music and have had success getting things done that you want done. Build that
list up everyday and, when the package is ready, spend time sending it out to every single one.
1. The industry is against me. I know how things work and they just can't handle my sound and my image.
They just don't know and that is why I am not where I want to be.
See above response. The same thing goes. You can blame anyone, everyone and everything, but when it
comes down to it, it's about how you handle things. What will impress or turn off many in the industry
is your reaction, your following action and the way you execute. You may even be right at times that
things are against you, but if you just blame and agree, you are settling, giving up and giving in.
None of those attributes makes for a solid investment. Plus, it makes them sound like they're five.
'Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms.' Now, even more so, you are providing
support for why the industry should be against you.
Buck up, gear up and fight for what you want. Work to show them what you are about and learn
different ways to present your sound, your image and your goals. It might not always work, but
it is a hell of a lot more effective than bitching and will get you worlds further.
Just do it. Don't expect it. Plan, learn, grow, create, problem solve and empower yourself as
well as your dreams. And then execute. Take those steps or quit. It's your choice. It really is
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