You say you have many social media sites but you don’t use them. Your website is beautiful you say, but you haven’t messed with it for a few months. You have new songs but they aren’t available online. You’ve known what you should do but haven’t really started yet. That was 2 years ago. In the next breath you talk about how amazing your music is, and you are sure you will be able to make 7 figures, win a Grammy and be touring nationally within a year. Have you lost your mind? How is all of this suppose to happen, magic?
Musicians work for decades before they are even close to being good enough to be considered for the Grammy ballot. Sure there are a few who break through quickly but they still do insane amounts of work even as children. This isn’t La la land, this is a business. It requires preparation, practice, strategic planning and paying your dues. If you know that you have nothing going on and you say you have thought for a while that you should actually be working on promoting yourself, then why aren’t you? No one cares how good you think you are, or how many years you have been floundering around accomplishing nothing. If what you HAVE been doing isn’t working, DO SOMETHING ELSE! So many musicians stick to the same plan or lack of one, the same non-existent brand and the same lottery mentality, refusing to let go no matter how stale their career might be. Your way isn’t working, move on! If you had all the answers you would have millions of fans, and a great career. If your career is one you have made up in your head, get Real. Every business requires a business plan. Do you have one?What do you plan to accomplish every month for the next year? How do you plan to accomplish these things? How much will it cost/ How will you pay your bills?
Look back over the last year. Where is your music business now compared to where it was a year ago today?Have you met your yearly goal? Did you even write one down and plan out the steps to get there? Are you going backward doing the same tired things you did a year ago that weren’t working then? If you haven’t made progress, there is no one to blame but yourself. No manager, booking agent, promoter or adviser can help someone who isn’t open, and working like a mad person to reach their goals. A professional team can only help artists who have alot going on, who push forward in an organized strategic manner every day and don’t get distracted by the Industry pitfalls. Promises of short cuts are bogus. There are none, and deep down you know it. It’s only Rock ‘n Roll mapped out in detail with a fine tooth comb. Every step should be carefully taken to ensure the most ROI. Do you know how to make money in today’s music industry?How educated are you about your chosen field? Are your ideas antiquated and obsolete the way the business works today?
Too many artists think they can dream their way to the top. Dreams are great, with serious work, blood sweat and tears behind them. Get realistic about your abilities as a musician and how far they can take you. Do you need to practice more, take vocal or guitar lessons and greatly improve your game?Everyone musician needs to practice every day. You may have to give up a few parties, movies or reality TV shows to dedicate yourself to your craft 100%. How much work do you do every day promoting your music and getting to know your fans? Why should they even listen to your music if you aren’t reaching out every day to get to know them?
I love this blog by Chris Beckett that speaks to getting real about your game.
“Principle no 2: ask yourself why you play music
If the answer is to impress people with your skill or to become famous, then you’ll never be a great musician. The reason great musicians are great is because they speak to us. They have something to say other than ‘look at me’. So many musicians think that becoming great is just about acquiring technique. Skill is important, but it’s what you do with it that’s important. Technique is the vessel through which you say something. Most musicians sing words or play notes but don’t say anything with them. They’re afraid that if they do, people will reject their message. If you want to be great you must get over being timid and throw your personality into your music.”
My favorite principle and they are all great is “Simple does not mean easy.”
Principle no 6: simple does not mean easy
It annoys me how many musicians think they are beyond ‘simple things’ such as timing, feel or basic chords, yet can’t play very well at all. I once knew a guitarist who knew all the solo’s on Ok Computer but couldn’t play G to D. He was so focused on learning complexity that he forgot to lay a foundation. The reason he couldn’t play solo’s was because he hadn’t learnt simple chords. Jimi Hendrix spent years and years playing simple rhythm guitar. Whilst it didn’t stretch him in the least it formed his style. His playing always weaved rhythm and lead so that they became one, laying complexity on top of simplicity. You are never ‘past simplicity’, if you think you are you’ll never get far.
Speaking Of Hendrix, have you seen The American Masters series about his life?Read about it in Rolling Stone.
“Hendrix had his guitar with him at all times.
Although Hendrix was blessed with abundant musical talent, he honed it by playing the guitar pretty much every waking moment, which meant that he always had an instrument with him wherever he went. (It also served the purpose of deflecting conversation – offstage, he was rather shy.) Various friends and girlfriends testify to how he always carried a six-string: for example, in the morning, he’d strap it on before walking into the kitchen for breakfast.”
Instant success? Beckett has that covered as well.
“Principle no 3: being great doesn’t mean you’ll be an instant success
Becoming a great musician doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to lie back and wait to be discovered. That just doesn’t happen anymore. You’ll have to work on being great and work on promoting yourself. I promote some of the finest acoustic songwriters in the UK. These musicians aren’t just good, they’re spellbinding. A friend of mine, Sam Beer (samualbeer.co.uk) is doing everything right. His music is compelling and unique, his songs are as good as they get and he has the right image. Yet still he has to struggle, seeking out gigs and making himself known.. Sam will get there in time, he’s just too good, but it will take time. Are you prepared to wait? If you have a time limit on ‘becoming a success’ you’re pressuring yourself, and you’ll react by trying to please everyone.”
Trying to please everyone is a huge mistake. It’s impossible to begin with and you are shooting yourself in the foot trying to second guess the masses. Do what you do best and let it be. Maybe your music isn’t for everyone and that’s not a surprise. Art is subjective and what is beautiful to some totally turns off others. Get over needing to be loved by the world. And while you are at it, stop slamming other artists and comparing yourself to them. Try having a collaborative spirit, it will get you much farther. You don’t understand why so and so has so many fans even though you think their music sucks? Maybe they have a charisma and style that appeals to a broad audience and they work on their craft every day. Maybe they are constantly talking to their fans, gigging and creating real buzz. I’m sure they aren’t wasting time worrying about what you are doing, so move along. Think you can become a star without gigging? Ridiculous. You have to get out there so people can hear you, meet you and get to know who you are as an artist. Stop hiding in your house trashing everyone else and get to the clubs. Can’t get a gig yet? Go to an open mic every week and blow people away. If your music is really good then let’s hear it. Let the fans decide. How often do you go out and support other artists?If you are disappointed that no one comes to hear you, ask yourself how many times you have gone out to support someone else?It makes a huge impression when a fellow musician shows up to support you on a gig. And who knows you may end up getting some gigs of your own out of it. Network, collaborate and see what happens.
Look at where you are today. Look at your where you were a year ago. Now…what are you going to DO about it??