“I know I have the talent but…” I would be rich if I had a nickle for every time I’ve heard that line in the last few years. It’s rough out there people, and you have to have a thick skin. There are no short cuts, no magic pills, no one you can pay to make you an overnight success. It’s hard work and loads of talent, plain and simple. But one thing that always gets me is the assumption by many musicians that their music is better than every other artist out there. Really? I listen to insane amounts of music every day. Underground, mainstream, hip hop, jazz, rock, classical, you name it – I am listening to it. You have to seek out new music all the time to stay current. And by that I also mean, listen to the legends and the masters who came before you if you aren’t familiar with them. You have to know where we’ve been in the music Industry before you can know where YOU are going. I actually have fellow musicians tell me that they only listen to their own music. What!? That just blows my mind. There is an insane number of brilliantly talented creative artists out there and we all need to be listening. You can’t create in a vacuum. You need to gather inspiration from the world around you.
Are your fans listening to your music and coming to your shows? If not, have you examined all the reasons why that may be a problem? ”If I had the resources, I’d be famous…” Another misconception that I hear all the time. It’s true that you have to invest in your music career, but that doesn’t mean buying all your fans and never engaging with the very people who hold your fate in their hands. Yes, your fans have all the power. Do you talk TO them, or AT them? Do you give them a reason every day to support you and your music career? Do you shower them with gratitude, respect and love? If they can’t connect with you as a person, they certainly won’t support you as an artist. You are asking them to buy your music, merch, spend money on your shows and help with your crowd funding campaigns. They need to know why they should care. Give them some insight into who you are and be grateful for them every, single day. You’ve got nothing without them.
Now back to those empty clubs every time you perform. Could it be your music? I know, gasp, right? It’s a reality, your music just might not be that good. Truth people, deal with it. I am a student of the music. I work on it every day and I’m never satisfied. If you want to be a good artist, hell a great artist, you have to work on your music. Constantly, all the time, every day. Practice, write, perform, never let up. I am very lucky to work with world class musicians and I can tell you, they are NEVER satisfied with their work. They don’t need to talk about how good they are, the work speaks for them. When they aren’t touring, gigging, performing or teaching, they are sequestered in their room, practicing. Endlessly, constantly, diligently. The work is never done. The masters know, there is never a point where you can say, “OK I’m famous, I’ll lie down now and take a nap.” There is just more work to do.
So, examine your music, be honest with yourself and practice, practice, practice. And don’t worry about how good someone else is, or what opportunity they got that you didn’t. Be happy for them and move on. We’re all in this together, and we need each other’s support. You can make it in this Industry if you are diligent, work like mad, network, stay humble and devote yourself to the music. I’m listening to your music, are you listening to mine?
Great article from CNN – Has image overtaken music?