By Tom Hess
I often receive e-mails from musicians seeking advice on how to make it in the music business. In nearly all cases, musicians are asking all the ‘wrong’ questions that:
1. Are rooted in common music industry myths.
2. At first glance seem to be good questions, but are actually based on assumptions that will take them away from their ultimate music career goals.
3. Completely neglect important steps that the person should take to advance their career (such as the ones I discussed in this article about becoming a highly successful professional musician).
To grow your music career fast, you need to understand which questions you are asking that are leading you down the wrong path and replace those questions with much higher quality ones that will help you reach your greatest musical goals in little time.
The following questions are the worst questions you can ask when trying to succeed in the music industry:
Bad Music Career Question #1: Do I Have To Become A ‘Starving Artist’?
A lot of people believe that making a living as a professional musician means one of two things: Either you ‘make it’ and go on to tour the world and sell millions of albums or you ‘become a starving artist’ and have to play at crappy bars and street corners just to get by. This music business myth makes sabotages people’s careers from the start, either by making them believe they need to get full time jobs unrelated to music and ‘try to do music on the side’, or be afraid of trying to enter the music business.
In reality, there exist tons of ways to earn good money in the music business and there is actually a HUGE ‘middle class’ in the music industry. In fact, it’s EASIER to earn good money with a secure job as a professional musician than it is to become successful in other fields of business. However, before you can make this happen, you need to ask a higher quality question. Rather than worry about how you can ‘avoid’ becoming a starving artist, you need to be thinking “How many different ways do I want to earn good money in the music industry?”
As you work in the music business, you are not forced to live from one paycheck to the next like in a normal day job. Instead, it’s always possible to be earning multiple sources of income at the same time. This makes becoming a professional musician a much more stable career choice since you don’t have to be dependent on just ONE source of income. In addition to the obvious ways that musicians seek to make money in music (selling albums/downloads, playing live shows or recording as a session musician), there is one thing you can do right now that will quickly boost your music related income:
Teach music lessons and build a large student base. This will instantly create various sources of income (having many different students) through working only part time hours every week. This will give you the free time to work on building your music career. Learn how to teach guitar so you can begin teaching music for a living right away.
When you build many sources of musical income as discussed above, it’s very possible (and not as hard as you might think) to annually earn more than $100k in your music career (I know this, because I’ve helped many musicians to do it). To learn more, read this article about how to make money in music.
Bad Music Career Question #2: How Do You Get A Record Deal?
To really know why this is not a good questions to ask, answer this: “What’s in it for someone else to give you a record deal?” If you think the main thing you offer to a record company is good music writing skills… think again. This is simply not enough incentive for a music company to want to work with you. People will not invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into your music career just because you’ve written some nice music. Think about it like this: Let’s say you saved up a couple hundred thousand dollars – Would you go spend it all to bet on a horse at the race track OR would you try to find someone to invest it into who can prove to you that they have the ability help you make a big return? Certainly you would make the prudent choice and work with the person who would help you earn more money. This is the same mindset that record label executives have. Therefore, you need to stop worrying about how you can ‘get signed’ and begin making yourself into the best possible investment a record company could take. Hint: This means doing a lot more than just writing music, playing an instrument or having a Facebook music page.
Here are the actions you should be taking to make yourself into a valuable investment for a record company:
1. Understand what music companies are looking for in musicians before they work together with them.
2. Work every day to build your music career. Record companies want to see that you have a good track record before they will begin working with you. The more things you do as an independent musician, the more likely it is that you will gain the interest of a record company.
3. Get music career coaching from an experienced mentor who has already accomplished big things in the music business and helped others get signed to recording contracts.
Once you begin developing your music career on your own, you will make yourself like a beacon of light and record companies will come searching for YOU!
Bad Music Career Question #3: How Can I Get My Music ‘Heard’ By More People?
The majority of musicians want to get their music heard by as many people as possible, believing that this will help them earn money and become successful pro musicians. However, the quantity of people who listen to your music is not very significant in and of itself. What really matters is the amount of people you are able to turn into a highly dedicated fans who will do anything to support you and your music.
So instead of asking yourself “How can I get more people to listen to my music?” you must ask: “How can I develop a following of dedicated FANATICS?” Only after you have asked (and take action on) this question will it become necessary to get a lot more people to hear your music (because it will then be much more likely that you will be able to turn them into committed followers).
To find out more about making money in your music career and gaining more fans, read this article on how to promote a career in music.
Bad Music Career Question #4: What Is The Best Music City To Move To?
Many musicians think they will be much more likely to succeed in the music industry by moving to a ‘music city’. Then with this belief in mind, they pack up their things and move, believing that opportunities will simply ‘fall into their lap’ once they arrive. Once they have been in their new location for a while and nothing has changed, they blame it on the city and look for a new location to move to (while being completely unaware of the TRUE reasons why they aren’t successful).
Where you live has nothing to do with your chances of becoming successful in the music industry. This is especially relevant today as it is easier than ever for someone to get signed to a record contract, release music from a home studio, schedule major world tours or do work as a session musician no matter where they live. Massively successful musicians do not achieve success because they live in a specific city or location. If that were the case, no one living in ‘non-music’ cities would become successful in the music business. No matter where you live, the principles for becoming a successful pro musician apply exactly the same.
Rather than making the massive (wasted) effort of trying to research and find the best music scene, go through the following process that has been PROVEN to work for musicians:
1. Determine your unique goals as a musician (using this article about how to identify musical goals).
2. Get music career coaching and build an effective strategy for reaching your musical goals.
3. Work each day to get closer to achieving your goals until you reach them.
When you focus on what is most important (using the process above), you will achieve success in your music career much faster.
Now that you’ve learned why many common music career questions actually steer your music career down the wrong path, here is what you need to do to get back onto the right path:
Step 1. Break down your musical goals in as much depth as possible. Use the articles and resources mentioned above to gain clarity on how the music business works.
Step 2. Continually ask yourself high quality questions to achieve much greater results in your music career.
Step 3. Don’t try to become a pro musician alone. Get music career coaching from a trainer who will help you build a highly successful career in music.
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 websiteyou can find out how to become a pro musician and learn how the music industry works.