By Tom Hess
Ever wonder why so few musicians seem to have great success in the music business compared to the thousands who are trying to make it? Truth is, most musicians are totally clueless about ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do it’ so they follow the advice of friends/family in hopes that it will lead them down the right path. However, this approach fails because friends and family do not really understand the music industry because they have never been successful in it. With this in mind, if you haven’t already read my previous article on how to become a professional musician.
On the other hand, musicians who build and sustain successful music careers utilize an entirely different set of skills, thought processes and values that help them achieve music business success. These things are not music business secrets that are only available to rock stars and music industry executives – anyone can learn and utilize them (this includes you). Throughout the rest of this article I will discuss these various qualities and help you understand how you can use them to benefit your personal music career.
Get ready to be surprised, because the qualities I will be mentioning will not have anything to do with your musical skills. The reason for this is because it is ‘understood’ in the music industry that you must develop ‘pro’ level musical skills (by working with a great teacher) at the same time as you work on your career. Having great musical skills is really only a small piece of the puzzle for music career success. In fact, there are countless people who are great ‘musicians’, but never go anywhere in their music careers.
The majority of the material covered below deals with your own way of thinking rather than the things you ‘do’. Most people do not think in a way that will lead them to a high level of success in the music industry. However, you CAN learn and develop the right mindset for success with proper training. I know this from personal experience after spending years to develop the right qualities in myself to reach a high level in the music industry. Having reached my own goals in the music industry, I now mentor other musicians around the world to reach success in their own music careers.
The following are the most crucial qualities needed for achieving major success in the music industry.
The Right Work Ethic Mentality
Of course it is obvious that you will need to work hard to build a successful music career. However, most musicians do not understand what ‘kind’ of working mentality is required to truly ‘make it’. The type of dedication needed requires more than just working a lot on your career. It requires:
1. Understanding the ‘correct’ course of action to take in order to make progress. This means not just ‘working a lot’, but working on the ‘right things’ that will lead you where you want to go.
2. Working in the most effective and productive manner possible. Tons of people stay busy throughout the day, but never actually accomplish anything important. You don’t want to become one of these people.
3. Being aware of how everything you do factors into the growth of your music career in the long term.
4. Having the patience and commitment to do all the hard work ‘up front’, long before you get a payoff of any kind. A common example of this would be recording a full length album in the studio before actually making any profit from it.
To develop the right work ethic mindset, work to clearly understand your long term music career goals and find a mentor who will help you determine the steps you must take to reach them.
In the music industry, you will not reach a high level of success alone. Music companies, musicians, promoters, managers and other music industry types will all act as your business partners at one point or another in your music career. These people will all invest their time, energy and resources into you and because of this they will expect your loyalty (as you will likewise expect it from them). Musicians who are not loyal are frequently banned from future business ventures and music career opportunities. The majority of musicians take loyalty for granted and only ‘pretend’ to be loyal until they can take advantage of an opportunity at the expense of their partners.
Certainly there are many different concepts of what it means to maintain loyalty to someone. In this case, loyalty describes not taking advantage of an opportunity to ‘get ahead’ while simultaneously creating conflict with those who you are working with. At the same time (of course), you cannot let others take advantage of you and bring you down for the sake of ‘loyalty’ itself. You must learn how to become perceptive in this area in order to truly achieve high success in your music career.
Use this music business assessment to better understand what people in the music industry will be looking for in you.
The Ability To Bring More To The Table Than Just Playing Your Instrument
No matter if you are working as an independent musician or together with a music company, you will greatly benefit by knowing how to negotiate, book shows, build a following of fans, put together a tour, communicate effectively, think of profitable business ideas and much more.
That said, you don’t have to be highly skilled in each of these areas. After all, this is why you should be working together with a team of other people who are strong in the different areas where you are weak. However, when you posses the ability to bring value to the table in these different areas, you will gain the power to:
1. Become the ‘best choice’ for any bands looking for a new member
2. Think of many different ways to earn money in the music business
3. Not lose money when you have to hire others to perform tasks you cannot do
4. Earn a lot more money because you have more value to offer to others
5. Transform any project you are working on into a success
The idea to take away from this is that the most successful musicians do a lot more than just play their instruments. This is why they are able to quickly climb the ranks and make good money by working together with others.
A Win/Win Thinking Mentality
The majority of musicians are always looking out for themselves without thinking about the effect their actions have on others. Of course, you will need to get your own needs met, but you do not need to do so while bringing others down at the same time. The musicians who become the most successful and gain access to the greatest opportunities in this business are always getting what they want while ALSO finding a way to help the people they work with do the same. In nearly all scenarios, you can find a way to create a great outcome for everyone involved. To do this, you will need to think from a totally different perspective than most musicians (and people in general). In my music career success program, I help musicians understand how to consistently think with this mindset.
Freedom To Pursue Music Industry Opportunities
It’s a lot a less difficult to pursue any music industry related opportunities when you are free to do so. Gaining this freedom while putting together a music career is part of becoming a successful musician. Learn about gaining the freedom to pursue the things you want to do in your music career with the advice in this article about how to begin a career in music.
Knowing How To Keep Calm During Situations Of Stress
As a professional musician you will encounter many situations that cause you to experience a high level of stress. These situations may include things like recording in the studio, going on tour, attempting to pursue different projects at once and many other scenarios that involve working together with tons of other people who all have different preferences and demands. This is a huge challenge that most musicians are unable to overcome.
Highly successful musicians have the ability to press forward through situations of stress and excel, while others (who think they are skilled in this area) are surprised when they find themselves crumbling under pressure. In my music career mentoring program, I help musicians prepare mentally for situations of high stress. This helps most musicians avoid very negative consequences that could hurt their music career.
The Ability To Always Think About ‘The Big Picture’
The music industry contains tons of opportunities and challenges no matter which path you decide to take in your career. Additionally, no matter what path you go down, you will always have limited time and resources to use. To make things even more challenging, you will often have to do most of your work well before seeing any of the benefits of your efforts.
If you do not have a perfect vision of where you want to go in the music business, it will be very difficult not to become torn in different directions that take you far away from your original goals.
The musicians who become successful in the music business are always focusing to align their actions up with the end goals they desire most. This gives them the ability to judge what is best for their music career and make the right choice whenever a potential opportunity comes their way. By doing this, they are able to achieve their goals quickly and effectively.
Now that you have read about the crucial qualities needed for success in the music business, here are 4 things you should do to start building a successful long term music career:
1. Increase your chances for success in the music business by reading this article on how to become a professional musician.
2. Prepare yourself for a successful music career with this music business assessment.
3. Using the results from step 2 above, put together a plan for how you will improve your weaknesses and make progress in your music career.
4. Get trained by a mentor who has already achieved the things you want to do in the music industry to reach your music career goals faster.
About The Author: Tom Hess is an online guitar teacher, recording artist and music career coach. As a music career coach, he helps musicians from many countries break into the music industry. On his music instruction website you can find out how to become a pro musician and learn how the music industry works.