How is it that many people cannot seem to achieve success as
professional musicians, while some people quickly build and develop
highly successful music
careers? One of the ideas that I continually stress in my articles
is how your success as a professional musician is directly related to
your ability to
build value while minimizing risk (if you are not familiar with this
concept, take this music career success building test
now before reading this article). Once you have
become familiar with this idea, your potential for success in the
music industry will increase tenfold. However, to get everything out of
you must do more than simply ‘know’ about this concept.
As a trainer to musicians, the main thing I train people to do is to
learn how to become effective at offering maximum value with minimum
with every action taken. In my experience I noticed that most
musicians easily grasp the idea of lowering their risk in
conventional/obvious ways, however
many people do not realize that even their ‘positive’ traits and
skills can hold elements of severe music industry risk. This lack of
awareness makes it
much more difficult (if not impossible) to reach lasting success in
one’s career as a professional musician.
To end up as one of the few highly successful musicians, you MUST
find out how to reduce the inherent weak points that lie on the opposite
extreme of your
music career strengths. As you read the rest of this article, I will
demonstrate how to do this and explain how this analysis will bring you
closer to the
music career success that you want.
The Introspective Character Of A Professional Musician
In the process of working towards a music career, you have no doubt
spent a lot of time to acquire skill sets with intention of using them
in your musical
projects. At the same time, if you are like most musicians, all your
skills were acquired in a random fashion, lacking an underlying plan of
‘assets’ will fit together to enable you to build a music career. As
a result of this random planning, it is more than likely that your
positive pieces of
value will also contain contradictory weaknesses that can be
interpreted as damaging elements of risk if they remain unchanged. I
observe this unfortunate
scenario very often in musicians in all areas of the music business,
and the most frustrating part is that this frequently happens without
them being aware
To accelerate the advancement of your career as a pro musician,
learn to get the most from your positive attributes while minimizing the
weaknesses that they create in your music career strategy. All
musicians with a thriving career do/have done this at one point or
another, while those who
fail to become successful continue to wonder why some musicians can
‘make it’ in the business and they can’t. The good news is that it is
anyone to get on the right track with their approach and I will
explain how to get started as you keep reading.
To begin, see the table below that lists (in the left column)
several music career assets/strengths that musicians typically have. In
the adjacent column,
is an illustration of how a seemingly positive attribute can frequently
contain elements of risk/weakness that lies beneath the surface. While
giving music career training,
I come across the issues listed below on a continual basis (among many
these are the reasons why a person typically struggles to make it in
the music business even though they possess many great skills and
Of course as a general rule, the items you will read about in the
left column of the table are good/positive (at least when taken in
isolation). However as
you will see, when taken in context of your specific goals they also
often contain unexpected weaknesses that can hurt you unless you take
to prevent this from happening.
Your List Of Music Career Values And Assets
Your Assets’ Matching Element Of Risk
You are very friendly and considerate of others.
Musicians who go out of their way to be too
accommodating often get taken advantage of when negotiating contracts
and business deals (that
happen all the time in the music industry).
You have played, performed and toured with many different bands.
This seemingly positive thing can often be
misinterpreted (by other people) to mean that you lack loyalty or
dedication to a single project
(particularly as you seek to enter a new, more
successful band). Ironically, your true amount of commitment and loyalty
may be in fact very
high, but the credential of having played in many
bands can often be perceived in the opposite way from what you intend.
You easily come up with new plans and ideas.
Musicians to whom this description applies often
have a tendency to begin a number of new and exciting projects, only to
let them wither
away, unfinished. Over time, this leads to not only
extreme frustration and overwhelm but also to a vicious circle of taking
your career based largely on emotional impulses
rather than rational thought.
You are a musician who plays multiple different styles of music.
Unless you want to make a living mainly as a
songwriter for hire, it will be better for you to establish your musical
reputation as a
specialist in a single genre of music. Most bands
and record companies prefer to work with someone who is an expert in the
they do. Think hard about where you want to see
yourself in the music industry and take actions appropriately.
You are a jack of all trades player on many instruments.
While having skills on many instruments is often
(but not always) important for being a session musician, if you want to
do anything other
than work in the studio, in most cases you will be
better served by becoming an expert on your chosen (one) instrument.
Here you need to
determine by yourself what it is you want to be
known and perceived as in your music career and act congruently with
I don’t mean to imply that having general knowledge
of more than one instrument is ‘bad’, but there CAN be a problem
(depending on your
goals) with trying to communicate to others that you
are trying to make a name for yourself as someone who plays many
You are good at thinking things through.
People who are too analytical in everything they do
have a tendency to get stuck for too long in ‘planning’ and spend too
actually ‘doing’ the things that will move them
forward in their music careers. Although it is good to analyze issues
from all angles, it
is important to keep this quality balanced with the
ability to take consistent action on a regular basis.
You very self-reliant and dependable.
As valuable as it is to be resourceful and
independent, musicians who spend too much time working by themselves
often have a hard time
working on team-oriented projects. This can be very
damaging for your music career, because being a professional musician
will require you
to collaborate with MANY different people on a
variety of projects. Moreover, no matter how skilled you are, you simply
everything you must do in your career ‘by yourself’.
To succeed in the music business you must learn to love teamwork.
You have a high level of work ethic and persistence.
All too often, people with the best work ethic can
become too stubborn to change the course of action in their music
career, even when the
actions they are taking are not bringing them the
You have great musical skills.
Many musicians are completely out of balance with
the amount of time they spend developing their musical skills and the
time invested into
building their music career. While having high level
skills on your instrument is definitely a requirement, advanced musical
themselves will not give you the successful music
career that you want.
You went to college for music.
Unless all you want to do is teach music as a
professor in a college, a music degree is hardly worth the MASSIVE
investment of time and
tuition money if you want to be a professional
musician. The reason is because in music school you are not going to
learn anything about
building a successful career at the end of your
education. In the vast majority of cases, your resources will be better
actually expanding your music career directly and
receiving ‘specific’ music career training from someone who is already a
pro in the
After having seen how and why your music career assets can also
become your weaknesses, there are a few things you need to do right now
to maximize your
chances for success for doing music as a career.
1. Understand that not all elements of music career value are
‘positive’ when taking into account YOUR long term music business goals.
that may at first seem overwhelmingly positive can very often do
more harm than good (as you have seen in the above analysis).
2. Make it a high priority to get the clearest understanding of your
current risks and values in your music career. To get help with this,
fill out this
quick music career success building test.
3. Organize a music business plan detailing the goals you want to
reach. In the process, list the assets (elements of musical value for
the industry) that
you will need to acquire and also make a plan for how you will
minimize their opposing negative side effects. To get help with doing
this, you should work
with a proven music career coach who can guide you effectively
through this process. Additionally, through music career training you
will often discover
new and powerful ways to make yourself more valuable in the music
business that you have not considered before.
4. Keep in mind that compiling a comprehensive plan for reaching
your music career goals demands having a clear image of what you want to
supplementing that vision through ongoing training. Fact is that the
majority of musicians are not hard-wired for thinking in this way.
They, as most
creative business minds, tend to act on impulse and intuition.
Although it can be helpful to rely on your gut feeling occasionally,
doing ‘only’ this will
make your music career results unpredictable and random.
Last but not least, remember that in your quest to build new pieces
of value for advancing your music career, your actions will be of
limited use until you
complete the self-analysis of your strong and weak areas in the way I
explained here. After learning how to get the most from your current
progress towards a successful music career will become greatly
To help you learn more about your current potential to build a successful music career, fill out this free music career success building test.