A career in music isn’t for everyone. It’s demanding, highly competitive, and the odds are it might not pay well enough for you to keep up with the bills. But if playing music is something you love — and you have enough talent — then you can make it happen.
1. Set the Right Goals
Setting goals is crucial if you hope to launch a career in music. Often, the problem is that most people set safe goals in order to avoid failing. This is a totally backward way of approaching the matter.
“Although your goals in the music industry may be completely unrelated to recording/performing music, the point is this: don’t settle for less than you truly want in your music career in attempt to be realistic,” music instructor Tom Hess advises.
“Life is too short to hold yourself back by setting small and insignificant goals. Setting uninspiring goals and lacking ambition will only do one thing: ensure that you never reach what you truly want in your music career.”
2. Find an Experienced Mentor
Though it’s technically possible to navigate your way through the music industry and achieve success on your own, some help will usually raise your chances. What you really need is an experienced mentor who knows the ins and outs of the industry and can coach you.
Find an experienced mentor as soon as you can and soak up every bit of wisdom he or she can give you.
3. Never Turn Down a Gig
In general, you should never turn down a potential gig. There will be days (and nights) when all you want to do is relax, but ignoring an opportunity to play in front of an audience is never a wise choice.
For one thing, you never know who will be in the crowd. It could be your next fan who has a connection to a music producer. It could be a world-class musician who’s looking for someone to fill in a hole in a new band.
The more you play, the higher your chances of rubbing shoulders with someone who could make a huge difference in your career.
4. Build an Online and Offline Presence
“Crafting and managing your personal brand as a musician can seem complex,” musician Daniel Leeman admits.
“Technology continues to play a major shaping force in the evolution of music careers. With any innovation comes the fear of change, but also the opportunity to excel in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.”
In the music field today, there’s more to marketing yourself than mere word of mouth. You need to have a brand presence: both online and offline. Build a website, tinker with social media, and network all you can — in person — with other musicians, venues, and producers.
5. Work Harder Than the Rest
Talent, looks, and branding will certainly come into play, but sometimes success comes down to nothing more than hard work. Rarely will you see a successful musician who doesn’t work hard. Conversely, it’s rare to come across a hard-working musician who’s a total failure.
Working harder than the rest of the pack can be draining — both emotionally and physically — but it’s something that everyone notices. From producers to fans, hard work is impressive and contagious.
Show people that you’re committed and good things will happen.
6. Patience is Most Definitely a Virtue
The music industry often feels like a rat race. New artists are constantly emerging and styles come and go. If you let it, the industry can push you too fast for your own good.
The key is to slow things down and have patience. You never know when your big break will come, but you won’t find it if you’re blindly pressing forward and ignoring your surroundings at the expense of “progress.”