Every day I receive messages in my inbox from musicians asking me how they can build their music careers. Maybe 1% of these questions are ‘good’ questions... all the others are built from totally misguided assumptions and myths about how the music industry works. Although some of these questions may ‘seem’ like good questions, they actually achieve highly destructive effects on a musician’s mindset that lead him/her far away from their musical goals... in most cases causing them to skip past crucial actions that need to be taken in order to succeed in the music business (I covered this previously in an article I wrote about becoming a 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.
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: Do I Have To Become A ‘Starving Artist’?
A lot of people believe that making a living as a professional musician means one of two things: Either you ‘make it’ and go on to tour the world and sell millions of albums or you ‘become a starving artist’ and have to play at crappy bars and street corners just to get by. This music business myth makes sabotages people’s careers from the start, either by making them believe they need to get full time jobs unrelated to music and ‘try to do music on the side’, or be afraid of trying to enter the music business.
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:
Teach music lessons and build a large student base. This will instantly create various sources of income (having many different students) through working only part time hours every week. This will give you the free time to work on building your music career. Learn how to teach guitar lessons for a living so you can begin teaching music right now.
When you build many sources of musical income as discussed above, it’s very possible (and not as hard as you might think) to annually earn more than $100k in your music career (I know this, because I’ve helped many musicians to do it). To find out more information on this topic, read this article and learn how to earn money in music.
Bad Music Career Question #2: What Is The Best Music City To Relocate To?
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).
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.
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 identify your ultimate music career objectives (using this article about how to determine your musical goals).
2. Get music business coaching to develop an effective strategy for accomplishing 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.
Bad Music Career Question #3: How Can I Get My Music ‘Heard’ By More People?
The majority of musicians want to get their music heard by as many people as possible, believing that this will help them earn money and become successful pro musicians. However, the quantity of people who listen to your music is not very significant in and of itself. What really matters is the amount of people you are able to turn into a highly dedicated fans who will do anything to support you and 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 money in music and building a dedicated fan base by reading this article about music industry promotion.
Bad Music Career Question #4: How Do I Get A Recording Contract?
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)? 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 great investment for a record company:
1. Know exactly what the music industry wants from musicians before they sign them to a record deal.
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 business coaching from an experienced trainer who has already helped tons of musicians get recording contracts and develop successful music 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!
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 work on building a music career by yourself. Get music business coaching from someone who will lead you down the right path toward achieving your musical goals.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a recording artist, music career mentor and virtuoso guitar player. He trains and mentors musicians of all different experience levels on how to develop a successful career in music. Visit his musician website to get free music career building tools and read professional music business columns.