I constantly receive messages from musicians who are seeking solutions to help them build successful music career. In almost every case, these musicians ask me questions that are based on highly self-destructive myths about the music industry. By asking themselves these questions (usually based on some kind of 'conventional wisdom' about the music industry told to them by non-professional musicians), they sabotage themselves and fail to take the right steps to move forward in their music career (I talked more about this before in this article on becoming a successful pro 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:
It is a common belief that your chances for success in the music industry will rise significantly when you move to a city with a major music scene. Musicians will even pack up and move thousands of miles to a place like Nashville or New York with the hopes that success will simply fall into their lap. Then when success never comes, they blame it on the city and move somewhere else (totally clueless about the real reasons why they aren't succeeding).
Here's the truth about 'location' leading to success in the music industry: Your location has nothing to do with your ability to become a successful pro musician. This applies particularly today when it is easier than ever for someone to get a recording contract, put out music, organize world tours or work as a session musician regardless of where they live. Highly successful musicians do not become that way because they lived in one area rather than another. If that were true, there would be zero successful musicians living in cities that are not known for big music scenes. The principles that lead to developing a successful music career apply exactly the same regardless of where you live.
Instead of wasting your time and energy trying to locate the best music scene, follow the same steps that have been proven to work for musicians time and time again. Do this:
1. Clearly determine your highest music career goals (use this article about the best way to
identify your musical goals).
2. Get music career mentoring to help you build a strategy for achieving your goals.
3. Invest time into achieving your goals every day until you have finally reached them.
When you focus your energy where it needs to be (using the process above) vs. worrying about outside factors such as where you live, you will accomplish great success in much less time.
In order to understand why this is not a good questions to ask, answer this: "Why should someone give you a recording contract?" If you think it's because you write good music... try again. This is never a good enough reason for someone to sign you to a recording contract. No one is going to invest many thousands of dollars into you just because you can write good music. This would be way too risky of an investment (so much so that it doesn't even make sense). Imagine that you saved up $200,000, would you then go to a casino and put it all on the line for one spin of the roulette? Or would you instead invest it into someone who has proven that they can help you earn even more (at least at a smaller level)? No doubt, you would make the wise choice and invest it into someone who would help you make more money. This is how recording labels think. So stop wondering about how you can get signed to a recording contract and start turning yourself into a 'wise investment' that any label would immediately see as valuable. This requires much more than writing great music, playing your instrument well or having a Facebook page.
Here are the actions you should be taking to make yourself into a great investment for a record company:
1. Know what the music industry looks for in you before they will sign you to a contract.
2. Do anything you can by yourself to grow your music career. Record companies will observe your 'track record' of success before they consider if working with you will be the right choice for them. The more you have accomplished on your own (as an independent musician) the greater the chances are that you will attract the interest of a music company.
3. Get music career mentoring from a trainer who has already helped a lot of musicians get recording contracts and build successful careers.
When you begin successfully growing your music career on your own, you won't have to continue trying to find ways to get a record deal - record companies will come looking for you!
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 making a living in the music business and constructing a fan base by reading this article about music career promotion.
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 masssively 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. Start making money now as a music instructor by reading this page on how to teach guitar for a living.
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 earning a good living in the music industry by reading this article on how to make money as a professional musician.
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 you music career by yourself. Get music career mentoring from a mentor who will help you reach your highest musical goals fast.
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world.
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