Until you’ve either been a highly successful pro musician or worked together with a mentor, your understanding of the music industry will likely be based off of assumptions and false ideas. I get tons of e-mails from musicians each week who ask me how to make it in the music industry. Most of the questions they ask are completely misguided. Usually (95% of the time) I get asked questions that:
1. Are made from assumptions that are entirely false.
2. Seem like good questions on the outside, but upon deeper examination will actually take you further away from achieving significant success in reaching your music career goals.
3. Completely overlook crucial action steps that need to be taken in order to set up a solid foundation for music career success. I talked about this idea in an article I wrote about making it as a professional musician.
To put together a successful career in music as soon as possible, you’ve got to know the questions you do NOT need to be seeking answers to, and understand how to ask much higher quality questions that will put you on the right track toward reaching your music industry goals.
These are the 4 worst music career questions you should avoid asking in order to build a successful career as a professional musician:
Bad Music Career Question #1: 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 the music industry is looking for in musicians before they begin working 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 industry training from a successful mentor who has already accomplished big things in the music industry 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 #2: How Can I Avoid Becoming A ‘Starving Artist’?
It’s a common belief that working as a professional musician leads you to one of two outcomes: Either you ‘make it big’ and become a huge rock start (earning millions of dollars and touring worldwide) or you have to play in smoky bars for the rest of your musical life just to earn a few dollars. This myth is NOT true and (if you believe it) will be extremely damaging to your music career success because it will cause you to get a regular job while ‘trying to do music on the side’, or hesitate to even enter the music business at all.
Fact is, the music business is made up of a large middle class and there are countless ways to earn a living. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to make a good living in the music industry versus becoming successful in an outside field. However, before you will make a lot of money, you must stop asking low quality questions. Stop worrying about becoming a starving artist and start envisioning all the different ways you can make money as a musician.
While working in the music industry, you don’t have to live from one paycheck to the next like in a normal day job. There is always a way to make multiple sources of income simultaneously. Instead of worrying about job security because you make just ONE source of income (as with most ‘normal’ jobs) you can have total security by earning money from MANY sources. Here are some ways you can earn money in the music industry: selling your music from your personal website, performing on stage or recording musical parts as a musician for hire. Also you can MASSIVELY boost your music related income by doing this:
Start growing a music teaching business. This will immediately produce multiple sources of income (your students) for you while you work much less than full time hours each week. Find out how to quickly get started earning money teaching music by reading this page on how to teach guitar.
After creating multiple sources of music related income, you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars in your music career each year (or more). I know this is true because I have helped many musicians do this for themselves. Learn more about making money in the music business by reading this article about earning money as a professional musician.
Bad Music Career Question #3: 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 specific musical goals (using this article about identifying musical goals).
2. Start working together with a music business mentor to put together 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.
Bad Music Career Question #4: What Should I Do To Get More People To Hear My Music?
Most musicians believe they will start making a good living in the music industry once they can get enough people to hear their music. In reality, it doesn’t matter very much how many people hear your music… What truly matters is the amount of people listening to your music who have been turned into FANATICS who do anything to support your music.
Stop asking yourself how to get more people to hear your music and start transforming anyone who is already your fan into a real FANATIC. Only After you have a strategy in place for turning ‘casual fans’ into ‘hardcore fanatics’ will the total number of people who hear your music begin to matter.
Learn more about earning a living in the music industry and building a fan base by reading this article about music promotion.
After reading this article, you’ve learned many reasons why common music career questions can actually be disastrous for your music career growth. Now, take these steps to ensure that you stay on course and achieve your goals in the music industry:
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 build your music career through trial and error (on your own). Get music industry training from someone who will help you to get on and stay on the right path toward becoming a highly successful professional musician.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a touring guitarist, composer and a mentor to musicians. Tom also trains musicians internationally on how to get into the music industry. Visit tomhess.net to get free music business tips and music career resources.