By Tom Hess
Before you will achieve anything significant in the music industry you must acquire five key elements that all successful musicians possess. Without these elements in place, your chances of becoming successful as a professional musician are slim to none.
The following are the five crucial keys needed for developing a long-term, successful music career:
Music Career Success Key #1 – Stop Worrying About What Seems Possible
All of the most well-known and successful musicians did not achieve their goals by thinking realistically about what seemed possible. On the contrary, they focused their mind like a laser ONLY on what they truly wanted. When you make your goals in line with the things you want most, you will be much more motivated to actually achieve them. More on this in a moment…
Think about this – out of the following choices, which choice would inspire you to put all your time and energy into growing a music career?:
a) Making a recording of a demo with a band and possibly playing a few shows around town.
b) Being the main songwriter for an epic album that sells millions of copies worldwide, then going on tour internationally – playing to massive festivals of fans and making a great living through music, without needing to work a regular job.
Even if you aren’t interested in getting into the music industry to release music, you can still understand my point… Don’t ever accept anything less than what you WANT from a career in music (even if what you want seems like a really big accomplishment). Don’t waste your life pursuing things that you don’t really want. If you set goals for your music career that don’t really inspire you, you won’t be motivated to achieve them and you certainly won’t ever achieve your true musical goals.
All of the great musicians you have ever known, are just normal people like you. They started from humble beginnings – whether it was without a band, having low musical skills or not understanding how the music industry works (as well as countless other situations). Imagine what kind of outcome would have happened for them had they decided that it wasn’t ‘realistic’ to sell records worldwide, tour internationally and build a huge fan base. Well, they didn’t… they chose to pursue BIG goals and this is very fortunate for them (and the music industry as a whole).
Be like them. Start building your music career based only on the goals that motivate you the most!
Music Career Success Key #2 – Manifest Your Musical Dreams Into Reality Before They Actually Are Reality
Musicians who never achieve anything significant in this industry, build paths to their goals by starting from where they are in the present moment.
On the other hand, musicians who achieve great success do something completely different. They plan their music career by beginning from the end point of achieving their goals, and work backwards to the present day. They imagine themselves having already accomplished their major goals, then build their lives around this vision. This is a much more effective way of accurately determining the actions required for putting together your music career. Find out more about this topic by reading this article on achieving your musical goals.
Avoid having to rely on trial-and-error approach in your music career by working with an experienced music industry mentor who can tell you how to build a successful music career.
Music Career Success Key #3 – Sink Or Swim (Choose SWIM!)
Your music career success is dependent on possessing the above two keys. However, simply having ‘goals’ and a plan to reach them is not enough to actually do it. You must ‘take action’ day in and day out until your goals are completed. This might seem like a common sense thing to say, but the truth is, TONS of musicians fail to take action on realizing their musical dreams and never end up doing anything.
Consider this metaphor (I discuss this in depth with the musicians who I mentor for success): You’ve been diagnosed with some kind of illness that requires a critical surgery. If you don’t get this surgery done, you will die in 6 months. On top of that, the surgery costs a huge amount of money (100k+) and you can neither borrow money to pay for it nor get coverage from insurance. So you have one choice: You can do whatever it takes to make the money you need or you can give up and allow yourself to die.
This example is on the extreme end of the spectrum, but it effectively illustrates the type of mindset needed to achieve success in the music industry. Taking consistent action to move your music career forward is different than merely knowing what needs to get done, while waiting around hoping it will magically occur on its own (allowing yourself to ‘die’ in this case).
With this in mind, hard work/consistent action does not necessarily equal music career success, when you don’t know exactly what you should be doing to reach your goals. Get started building a successful career in music with a mentor so you can understand the right actions you should be taking at all times.
Music Career Success Key #4 – Make Sure Your Musical Goals Can Pass The ‘Why’ Test
It’s a fact that everything will not always go according to plan in your music career. It is in the most challenging times that your music career dedication will be put to the test. Examples of this could include:
- Having to work full time at a job that sucks and having no idea how to quit your non-musical day job and make it in music.
- Playing at dumpy bars with your band, because you aren’t sure what steps you should take to start playing at bigger, better venues.
- Working with unmotivated band members who are bringing you (and the entire band) down.
- Working to record your debut album, but having a difficult time because you never learned how to record cleanly, in as few takes as possible.
- Not knowing how to get tons of music fans to hear your music.
Here is what you need to do in order to maintain your commitment and dedication to achieving your music career goals:
Take out the piece of paper you have that contains the list of your written goals (that you put together in key #1 above). Then beside each one write down the big REASONS you have for pursuing them. For every musical goal you have, answer this question: “Why do I want to achieve this?” Spend a lot of time thinking about this for each goal before you write down your response, and look over your goals/reasons two times every day.
When you make this a habit, you’ll be able to stay enthusiastic about achieving your musical goals whenever you are faced with any uncertainty or obstacles.
To find out more information on this topic, read this article about planning musical goals.
Music Career Success Key #5 – Don’t Try To Build Your Music Career Blindfolded
Even after you possess all four of the keys described above, you can still fail at building a successful music career. This can happen when you don’t know what to do next, are (subconsciously) sabotaging yourself or are using poor strategies for reaching your musical goals. The final key required for music career success is the training of an experienced music industry mentor.
A true mentor does not merely instruct you on what you should be doing or tell you about the inner workings of the music industry. Instead, a great mentor helps you bring out the strengths you developed through attaining the first four keys and makes sure you are on the right path toward your goals at all times, while keeping you away from the obstacles that many musicians face (that often lead to them to failure). Without this expert guidance, you are trying to make it in the music business with your hands over your eyes and are unable to truly take advantage of your know-how, musical skills and hard work.
Now that you are familiar with all five keys needed for music career success, take the following actions:
1. Focus on getting all the missing keys you do not currently possess.
2. Start music business training right now to begin reaching your musical goals faster than ever before.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a recording artist, composer and a touring musician. Tom also mentors and coaches musicians worldwide to make it in the music industry. Go to his musician development site to get free music industry advice and learn more about the music industry.