5 Ways To Develop A Highly Successful Career In Music
By Tom Hess
You will never become incredibly successful in the music industry by only copying other musicians you look up to. Why? Truth is, when musicians reach a high level of success it is not because they just so happened to ‘take the right actions’, it’s because they have invested thousands of hours into developing the right ‘mindset for success’. If you want to build a successful music career for yourself, you will have to do the same.
For the rest of this article I will assume you have already figured out what you want to achieve in the music business (if not, study this article about planning a music career). Now I am going to compare the opposing mindsets of successful and unsuccessful musicians so you can better understand how to move your music career forward.
Stay Away From A “Zero Sum” Mindset
Highly successful musicians consistently follow the following two premises:
Premise #1 – It is not ‘wrong’ or unethical for a musician to desire to earn as much money as they can from what they do. Until you agree entirely with this idea, NO music company will want to work together with you to help you build your music career. Why? Because all companies in the music industry exist for one reason and one reason only: ‘to make a lot of money’. Music companies would never invest tons of money into a musician who thinks that money is the root of all evil and has no intention to help the company earn their investment back tenfold. It is for this reason that the industry is called the music ‘business’ and not music ‘donation’. Caution: Even if you think you can fool a music company into working with you while at the same time not wanting to help them earn money, they WILL know. Companies can ‘sense’ this in you way before you even realize it. This is just another strong reason why you must be congruent in your beliefs as I mentioned above.
Premise #2 – The world is filled with opportunity and you can achieve unlimited success for yourself and those associated with you by using a win/win mindset and forming mutually beneficial partnerships.
These two mental approaches are fundamental for getting musicians to take the correct actions to achieve their goals and become highly successful.
On the other side of things, unsuccessful musicians think with an opposing mindset to these two approaches. They believe that the amount of money available for everyone is limited and when someone becomes wealthy, it reduces opportunities for everyone else. In addition to these ideas being completely unproven, this style of thinking creates a mindset of ‘scarcity’ that leads musicians to think with in terms of ‘lose-lose’. No one in the music industry will want to work with someone who thinks like this.
This is an additional reason why you should not copy the separate tactics of other musicians. On top of lacking a main strategy, if you are missing the correct mindset to support your actions, you will never get the results you desire in your music career.
Have Intense, Unbreakable Focus
Highly successful professional musicians make sure that everything they do works in congruence with their major goals. They have an intense focus on their goals and do not spend ‘any’ extra time, money or energy on things that will not help them achieve them. For instance, if your main goal was to release a solo album on your own, you will need to invest your time into writing and recording rather than simultaneously searching for a band or get local gigs.
Musicians who struggle to achieve success believe in the ‘common sense’ advice of ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ when it comes to their music careers. Because of this, they end up spreading themselves too thin and fail to achieve any ‘big’ results in anything they do. Truth is, becoming successful requires being the very best at whatever you do – this only happens once you line up all your thoughts, beliefs and actions to focus toward the achievement of a single goal.
An additional factor for becoming congruent is maintaining integrity for the things you truly desire in your music career. If you want to perform in a band that tours the world but instead you decide to make a ‘safer’ choice and write commercial ‘jingles’, you will struggle to remain congruent in your thoughts, beliefs and actions (because this is not what you truly desire).
So how can you apply this into your own career in music? Simply put, question yourself in the following manner for everything you do in the music industry: “How is the current action I am taking helping me accomplish my greatest music career goals?” If you are not able to answer this question in basic terminology, it is a red flag that you are not on the correct path toward achieving your main goals. Ironically, even if the current action you are taking (or are about to take) IS truly beneficial for your music career, it will frequently not have any positive effect if you do it without knowing how to best apply it into your overall strategy.
Additionally, some of the actions you take might seem entirely unrelated to your main goals when they are actually completely related to them. For instance, many musicians who want to tour the world in a band refuse teaching music for a living, thinking that this will keep them from achieving their goal. However, the truth is teaching music is the quickest, most stable and flexible way to earn a living as a musician while working on other activities in your music career (such as going on tour – something you could never do working a regular full time job).
To summarize, it is just as ‘crucial’ for you to understand how an action will help you build your music career as it is to actually do it. Take this musician success assessment to see how ready you are for a successful career in music.
Fully Understand What ‘Tactics’ Are And Why They Are Different From ‘Strategies’
In order to reach a high level of success in your music career, you are going to have to determine specific objectives you want to achieve in the long term. For instance, you might desire to record music under contract by a music company, tour the world in a successful band or write songs every day while making good money through your music.
For you to accomplish these things, you must develop a ‘strategy’ that is made up of many well organized and effective ‘tactics’.
A ‘tactic’ is an action you take that achieves a specific result in the short-term. Examples of this include: playing a show, trying to get your album reviewed or creating a new website for your band. Any single action you make is a tactic.
A ‘strategy’, generally speaking is when you combine together many individual tactics and organize them as a whole in a way that will accomplish a specific long term goal.
An easy way to understand this is to think of the board game chess. In chess, tactics refer to each individual move you make on the board. On the other hand, a ‘strategy’ refers to your understanding of how each and every move you make works together in unison to help you win the game.
Musicians who do not achieve success ‘only’ think with a mindset based around tactics. A lot of these musicians really try to ‘take action’ to move their careers forward, but struggle to make any progress because their actions are not part of an overall strategy. This is exactly why merely copying others does not help you achieve success (you are only copying the tactics without knowing the real strategy they are a part of).
With this in mind, the overwhelming majority of musicians are not great at forming successful strategies to build their careers (...neither was I). However, you MUST have a great strategy in order to maximize your chances for success when it comes to accomplishing your biggest music career goals. To form a solid strategy, work together with a mentor who has trained many musicians to reach their goals.
Abandon The ‘Entitlement Mindset’
Musicians who are unsuccessful think that they must beg gatekeepers in the music industry for opportunities by (for example) sending out demos or other promotional materials to record labels. They believe that only the few musicians who are lucky enough to get heard by these companies are the ones who ‘catch their big break’. After this method doesn’t work for them, they start complaining about how there is too much competition in the music industry and how an ‘average musician’ cannot get his chance.
Successful musicians on the other hand believe that everything they desire and want in their lives must be ‘earned’. They don’t wait around for opportunity to fall out of the sky into their lap and don’t complain when things aren’t going their way.
Doing this requires them to:
1. Understand exactly what the music company they intend to work with needs as well as what major goals the company has. Discover how to find this out for yourself by filling out this survey on the topic of what the music industry is looking for.
2. Complete a strategy that will help them form a beneficial partnership with anyone they work with.
3. Make sure that the company they work with KNOWS how valuable it will be to work together.
4. Follow through completely to generate value for the other side and develop a reputation for being highly loyal, reliable and dependable.
Any musician who follows these four steps will put themselves at the head of the line in front of the other 99.9% of musicians. To find out how to make opportunity for yourself in the music industry, sign up for this free musician success course about building a long lasting career in music.
Associate With The ‘Right’ People Who Will Help You Succeed
You understand that companies in the music business are highly selective of the people they choose to work with. All professional musicians are the same way and you should be this way as well...
Here is a common example of how you can cause great harm to your music career by not being selective of the people you associate with:
When ‘wannabe’ pro musicians begin a band, they almost never examine a potential band member for anything beyond their musical skills. There is no conversation about how each member’s goals work together with the goals of the band and no strategy put into place to for each member to lead the band to success. These kinds of bands generally break up after only a month or two. Worst part is, the risk to music companies increasingly grows once they have deal with several people who fail to deliver real value to the music industry. This kind of project is totally doomed.
Successful musicians not only find other musicians who are musically talented, but they analyze them deeply to understand if their mindset fits in perfectly with the band’s overall goals and vision. Find the best band members by studying and implementing the information in this guide about how to find musicians for your band.
Even if you have no desire to play I a band, you must still create a network full of success-minded musicians who offer mutually beneficial value to you and your music career. These musicians all should possess (or be on their way to developing) the same mental elements discussed throughout this article.
I’ve seen the great value of this type of network many times over as the members in my mentoring program have put together money-making partnerships, toured the world in big bands and accomplished many other awesome things because they had a network in place that was based on the fundamental principles outlined in this article.
Now you should have a detailed perspective on the difference between the mindset of successful and unsuccessful musicians. This should make it totally obvious why so few musicians actually ‘make it’ and achieve great success. Your mindset is your greatest asset or your greatest liability. Once you have taken on all the mental characteristics of successful musicians, every action you take will bring you much more value in your music career than ever before.
Learn how to get the music career you always wanted by completing this mini course for how to achieve success in the music industry.
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.