Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world.
Visit his site to discover highly effective music learning resources, guitar lessons, music career mentoring and tools including free online assessments, surveys, mini courses and more.
Send comments or questions to Tom Hess.
© Tom Hess
Click here for a printer-friendly version of "Five Methods For Getting Into The Music Business That Lead To Failure".
Ready to break into the music industry but unsure about what you need to do? Before you will become a highly successful professional musician, you need to get rid of several false beliefs that will cause you to fail in your music career. With this in mind, you might be surprised to learn the following fact about how the music business really works:|
Every year, thousands of highly-skilled musicians sent off their music to music companies worldwide. In many cases, the musicians who send their music in to people in the music business have spent years to become the best player on their instrument. However, this does not guarantee that they will get signed to any kind of recording deal. People who work for companies in the music business do not read (or sometimes even ‘open’) all the materials they are sent. This drives many musicians out of the music business entirely because they don’t understand why their musical talent hasn’t landed them a recording contract and become frustrated.
On the other hand, there are plenty of musicians who DO become successful in the music industry. Building a fulfilling and profitable music career is actually not as difficult as it may seem. However, the majority of musicians do not succeed because they believe in false ‘conventional wisdom’ about the music industry that ruins their chances of achieving their musical dreams. To break into the music industry and become successful, you must avoid the following music career building approaches that most people consider ‘common sense’:
'Playing It Safe' By Working A Full Time Job And Doing Music On The Side
Most musicians think that the only way to break into the music industry is to work at a safe and secure job while pursuing music on the side. In many cases, they are lead to believe that they can only attempt to get into the music industry once they have saved up enough money (many years down the road). Unfortunately, when people use this approach they end up getting stuck working 40 hours per week and never find the time to work on music. After training many musicians around the world to succeed in the music industry, I have seen this happen countless times. The reality is, you only have a finite amount of energy to spend during your day. When you spend it primarily working at a job that is unrelated to music, you will not have any left to go toward making progress to become a successful professional musician. The worst part is, musicians who take this approach fail to become successful in music and feel a lot of regret and resentment later on in life. There is nothing worse than this.
To build a successful long-term career in the music industry, you make your music career your #1 focus and plan for it accordingly. If you work a lot of hours at your job and have little time to pursue your musical goals, there is a problem. In fact, many musicians have been in this same situation and gone on to become professional musicians. You too, can overcome this. The best way to break into the music industry while working a full time job is to create a backup plan centered around your main music career goals. This plan should gradually help you transition away from your job in a safe and secure manner while giving you more time to work on music AND keeping you financially stable along the way. Find out how to do this for yourself by watching this video about how to become a professional musician.
Modeling Your Music Career Based On The Advice Of Those Who Have Never Succeeded In The Music Business
While looking for ways to make it in the music industry, you have probably been given advice by friends, family and other people you know. Although most of these people have good intentions behind the advice they give you, their opinions about becoming successful in the music industry will often do much more harm than good since they have never really been successful professional musicians.
Consider this: Asking people for music career advice (when they have never actually succeeded in the music business) is like training for a marathon with a trainer who hasn’t run a mile in his life or asking your dentist for legal advice. Additionally, asking advice from musicians who attempted to succeed in music (and failed) is equally as dangerous for your music career. Although these people are perfectly willing to tell you how you should build your music career, they do not really have the authority to do so – they will only lead you down the same path they took (which ended in failure).
Truly successful musicians do not build their careers from the ‘conventional wisdom’ of people they know or amateur musicians who never made it. They work together with a mentor who has already achieved great success and can use his experience to help them effectively reach their music career goals.
Uploading Your Music To Different Websites Online To Earn Money And Get 'Discovered'
One of the biggest questions musicians ask themselves when it comes to building a successful music career is “How do I get my music out there?” Most musicians believe that the answer to this question is uploading your songs to various websites online and waiting to ‘get discovered’ by new fans and people in the music industry. In reality, musicians who use this approach will only get their music heard by a handful of people at best (and not by the ‘right’ people who need to hear it) and will never earn a lot of money in the music industry. Here’s why:
Musicians who achieve the greatest success in their music careers do NOT merely upload their music online and wait around to get discovered. They create a strategy for working toward their musical goals while raising their personal value in the eyes of other in the music industry (by expanding their fan base and building other important music business skills). After doing this, they simply approach the companies they want to do business with and negotiate a partnership that will bring the most benefit to both sides of the deal. Learn more about how to get a record deal.
- They do not know how to effectively promote their music.
- They don’t already have a massive following of fans who are ready to buy their music as soon as it is released.
- There is no strategy behind what they are doing. They don’t know how to gain new fans or turn their current fans into people who will spread their music to others through word of mouth.
- They have no strategy for making a living through music using many different streams of income at once.
Thinking That A Degree In Music Will Help You Become Successful In The Music Business
Many musicians think that going to university to get a degree in music is a great way to break into the music industry. In reality, going to university for music may increase your musical knowledge, but it will not guarantee your success as a professional musician. Here’s why:
The truth is, most musicians who have built successful careers never graduated with a degree in music. They became highly successful because they received music industry mentoring from someone who had already achieved the goals they wanted to achieve (and could effectively guide them toward those goals in as little time as possible).
- Most music courses do not cover the specific topic of ‘how to build a music career’. Even if you take classes about music business, they will only present you with a general model of how the music business works. They will NOT show you exactly how to build a successful career for yourself (by keeping your personal goals in mind). In fact, there are tons of musicians who graduate from big music universities only to realize that they are still clueless when it comes to actually earning a living through music. If you go to university with the intention of getting into the music business with a degree, you will ‘at best’ learn a lot about music – but end up back at square one in terms of building a music career. At worst, you will also have enormous amounts of fees and debts to pay back.
- The overwhelming majority of musicians and music companies will never ask you if you have a music degree or not - because they don’t care. Instead, they want to see that you can help them build their own music careers and offer them the resources to achieve their goals faster and more efficiently. (Note: this goes way beyond simply being able to play your instrument). See how valuable you are to successful musicians and companies in the music industry by completing this free assessment about what the music industry is looking for.
5. Trying To Get Into The Music Business Alone
One of the most difficult ways to build a career in music is to try to do it alone. While using this approach, you are forced to advance your career through either trial-and-error or by copying what other people do. Without the training of an experienced and successful mentor, you will drastically decrease your chances of taking the right actions to move your career forward in the direction you want. Additionally, copying what others do will not help you because what works for them may not work for you (in your specific situation). When these approaches don’t work you will either:
If you are committed to breaking into the music business and earning a great living as a pro musician, it is crucial that you find a music industry mentoring program and work with a successful mentor as soon as possible. By doing this, you will reach your musical goals in much less time and finally be able to make a good living as a musician.
- Stop trying to break into the music industry and continue working at a full time day job for the rest of your life. Or...
- Spend many years trying to succeed in the music business while becoming increasingly frustrated because you can’t seem to make any progress.
Complete this assessment about what the music industry is looking for in you to learn what you need to do to begin working together with successful musicians and music companies.
Additional Columns by Tom Hess