Top 5 'Conventional' Music Career Approaches That Lead To Failure

By Tom Hess

Are you ready to start building a successful career in music, but uncertain about ‘what’ you need to do? Truth is, before you can become a successful professional musician you need to cleanse your mind of all the ‘conventional thinking’ that leads most musicians to failure. Here is an all too common situation that might surprise you:

Record labels and other music companies receive tons of packages throughout the year with music from amateur (but highly skilled) musicians. Many of the people who send in their recordings to those in the music industry have invested endless hours into their playing skills. The bad news is, almost all of these musicians never hear back from the companies they mail their music to. Many times, people who work for music companies would rather throw a package from a random musician into the trash than actually read it. This causes many musicians to give up on building a music career because they can’t figure out why they fail to ‘make it’ even though they have great musical abilities.

That said, there are many musicians who DO make it in music and go on to achieve great success. Building a music career and making a great living really isn’t as difficult as you might think. However, before you can do this you must abandon the methods used by unsuccessful musicians. Here are the five worst approaches for breaking into the music industry that you must avoid:

1. Trying To Make It In Music On Your Own

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to make it in the music industry is attempting to build your music career by yourself. This is the approach that leads countless musicians to failure. Why? Because when you try to build your music career alone you are forced to either ‘guess’ about which actions you should take next or copy what someone else is doing (and ‘hope’ that it works). Without the expert guidance of a mentor who has already gained many years of experience as a highly successful musician, it is nearly impossible to ‘guess’ the correct course of action you must take to further your music career. In addition, it will not help you to copy what ‘seems to be working’ for others because their situation is different from yours - what works for them will not necessarily work for you. If you use these approaches, you will eventually:

a)   Stop trying to break into the music industry and continue working at a full time day job for the rest of your life.   OR...

b)   Spend many years trying to succeed in the music business while becoming increasingly frustrated because you can’t seem to make any progress.

2. Working A Full Time Job While Building Your Music Career ‘On The Side’

Many musicians believe that they must work a steady-paying and secure job while pursuing their music career on the side. They think that you can only attempt to break into the music industry after spending many years working and saving the money you make at your day job. As someone who has helped a lot of musicians develop successful music careers, I can tell you that nearly all people who think this will end up working at an unsatisfying job until they retire. Additionally, these types of people are usually too busy working at their jobs to work on building their music careers. One of the worst things that can happen is that you watch your dreams pass you by and regret it later on. Truth is, the more you work in a non-musical field, the less time you have available to pursue becoming a successful pro musician.

To effectively get into the music business and build a long-lasting, successful career you must plan your time around your musical goals. Although you may currently need to work at a full time job, you can still build your music career by using a powerful ‘backup plan’. The best backup plan will be a safe and secure one that gives you the ability to transition out of your day job while gradually spending more time working on your music without leaving you financially broke. Learn more about planning a career in music and making a living as a pro musician by using the ideas in this music career backup plan video.

3. 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:

a)   The classes you enroll in are unlikely to have anything to do with developing a music career. Even if you attempt to get a degree in music business, your professors will only teach you about how the music industry works ‘in general’ rather than showing you how to build a music career based on your own unique goals. Becoming successful in the music industry requires training from someone who can tell you exactly what to do to reach your specific musical goals. There are tons of people who get music degrees from a university but still do not know the next step to take to become successful professional musicians. At best you will go to college for four years and leave with a degree in hand, no closer to making it in the music industry than you were when you started. In the more probable scenario, you will end up in debt with thousands of dollars to pay off in student loans.

b)   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). Complete this assessment on what the music industry looks for to find out what music companies want from you in order to begin working together.

The truth is, most musicians who have built successful careers never graduated with a degree in music. They became highly successful because they got music career training in order to learn how to effectively reach their musical goals.

4. 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:

·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.

By uploading your music online and ‘waiting’ to be found by others, you rely on ‘luck’ to guide the success of your music career. This approach practically guarantees failure.

The most successful musicians do not simply ‘hope’ that a music company will discover them and listen to their music. They use an effective strategy for reaching their musical goals while increasing the value they have to offer to others in the music industry by building up a massive fan base (as well as MANY other things that are needed for success in the music business). Next, they demonstrate their value by going directly to the companies they want to work with and working to build Win/Win partnerships. Learn more about pursuing a record deal and getting signed by music companies.

5. 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.

To illustrate my point, imagine you were trying to become a professional basketball player. Then to increase your chances for success, you hired a coach. However, the coach you hired was not very good at basketball and actually had never played basketball in his life (only watched games on TV). How long would you continue using this coach to help you build your career? Not long. Additionally, it is dangerous to trust the advice of musicians who pursue careers in music but failed. Taking advice from these musicians will only lead you to fail just like they did.

Highly successful musicians do not merely rely on the advice of the people they know to help them build successful music careers. They work together with a mentor who has already achieved great success as a professional musician and can show them how to reach their music career goals quickly and effectively.

If you are 100% dedicated to becoming a successful professional musician, you MUST begin working with a mentor who can show you how to reach your music career goals in the shortest amount of time possible (because this person has already achieved them). Get music career training right now and become a successful professional musician fast.

Discover what you must work on to become valuable to people in the music business by taking a music industry assessment and finding out what the music industry looks for in you.

Author's Bio: 

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.