Tom Hess, virtuoso guitarist in the 1.5+ million album selling band Rhapsody Of Fire and music career mentor to pro musicians worldwide gives his thoughts on success in the music business.
Why do many musicians fail to achieve great success as professionals while others seem to have an easy time building and developing their music careers?
One of them most important concepts that I always explain to musicians who are seeking a successful career in music is the concept of "adding value and reducing risk". If you are unsure about how this applies to your music career, quickly take this short successful music career test before you continue reading the rest of this article
(don’t skip this important step!). Understanding this idea is absolutely crucial to your success as a professional musician. Of course, understanding this
idea is only one half of the necessary requirements for making your musical dreams a reality.
As a trainer to musicians, the main thing I train people to do is to learn how to become effective at offering maximum value with minimum downsides/risk
with every action taken. In my experience I noticed that most musicians easily grasp the idea of lowering their risk in conventional/obvious ways, however
many people do not realize that even their ‘positive’ traits and skills can hold elements of severe music industry risk. It is the lack of understanding of
this fact that proves to be the weakest link in the music career plans of most promising musicians, even those with a great deal of talent.
To end up among the small number of musicians with a thriving music career, you must understand how to reduce the negative effects that are present on the
other side of your strong areas as a professional in the music business. In this article, you will discover how to do this effectively, so that you can
maximize your potential for success.
The Introspective Character Of A Professional Musician
On your journey to become a successful music business professional, you have without a doubt spent a lot of time and effort developing the necessary skills
and value to offer the industry. At the same time, if you are like most musicians, all your skills were acquired in a random fashion, lacking an underlying
plan of how these ‘assets’ will fit together to enable you to build a music career. As a result of this random planning, it is more than likely that your
positive pieces of value will also contain contradictory weaknesses that can be interpreted as damaging elements of risk if they remain unchanged. I have
witnessed this firsthand with hundreds of musicians, and the saddest part was that this happened without them being aware of it.
To accelerate the advancement of your career as a pro musician, learn to get the most from your positive attributes while minimizing the negative/opposing
weaknesses that they create in your music career strategy. All musicians with a thriving career do/have done this at one point or another, while those who
fail to become successful continue to wonder why some musicians can ‘make it’ in the business and they can’t. The good news is that it is possible for
anyone to get on the right track with their approach and I will explain how to get started as you keep reading.
To help you perform this analysis on your own, consider the list below. I will list for you several common music career credentials (written in the left
column of the table) that many musicians have. Next to it, I will describe how each of these assets can also become a very serious weakness (element of
music career risk). The items listed below are some of the most common issues I have to correct when working with musicians in my mentoring program about becoming a successful pro musician (although the list below is by no means complete). There are many more
elements of music career values and risks that I could list, but to keep this article on point I have narrowed it down to the points described below.
It’s worth mentioning that the examples listed below (on the positive side of the table) certainly ARE good/valuable in and of themselves. At the same
time, you MUST realize when/how these same items can also hurt you if you are not careful about preventing this from occurring.
Your List Of Music Career Values And Assets
Your Assets’ Matching Element Of Risk
You have great musical skills.
As important as it is to continuously work on your craft as a musician, too many musicians make the mistake of focusing all of their time
You have played, performed and toured with many different bands.
This seemingly positive thing can often be misinterpreted (by other people) to mean that you lack loyalty or dedication to a single project
You have pursued getting a music degree.
Unless all you want to do is teach music as a professor in a college, a music degree is hardly worth the MASSIVE investment of time and
You are a jack of all trades player on many instruments.
Outside of the narrow realm of session work and writing music for others, you will be perceived as a better musician if you are considered
You are a musician who plays multiple different styles of music.
Unless you want to make a living mainly as a songwriter for hire, it will be better for you to establish your musical reputation as a
You are a fountain of new ideas and excitement for expanding your music business career.
Many people to whom this applies are notorious for being involved with dozens of projects but not bringing any of them to completion. To
You are good at thinking things through.
People who are too analytical in everything they do have a tendency to get stuck for too long in ‘planning’ and spend too little time
You very self-reliant and dependable.
As valuable as it is to be resourceful and independent, musicians who spend too much time working by themselves often have a hard time
You are highly determined and have a tireless work ethic.
All too often, people with the best work ethic can become too stubborn to change the course of action in their music career, even when the
You are very friendly and considerate of others.
Musicians who go out of their way to be too accommodating often get taken advantage of when negotiating contracts and business deals (that
With the above understandings in your mind, here are some additional actions you can take right now in order to speed up the progress of your music career:
1. Keep in mind that not all of your music career strengths are created equal. Some (or most) may also contain hidden elements of risk when analyzed from
the viewpoint of your long term goals in the music business. Certain elements that may at first seem overwhelmingly positive can very often do more harm
than good (as you have seen in the above analysis).
2. Make it a priority to obtain the most clear picture of your present arsenal of risks and value items for your career in music. To get started, complete
this short successful music career test.
3. Organize a music business plan detailing the goals you want to reach. In the process, list the assets (elements of musical value for the industry) that
you will need to acquire and also make a plan for how you will minimize their opposing negative side effects. To get help with doing this, you should work
with a proven music career coach who can guide you effectively through this process. Additionally, through music career training you will often discover
new and powerful ways to make yourself more valuable in the music business that you have not considered before.
4. Keep in mind that compiling a comprehensive plan for reaching your music career goals demands having a clear image of what you want to achieve and
supplementing that vision through ongoing training. Fact is that the majority of musicians are not hard-wired for thinking in this way. They, as most
creative business minds, tend to act on impulse and intuition. While those attributes are certainly valuable at times, it is important to know how to
balance them with strategic planning and careful implementation.
Last but not least, remember that in your quest to build new pieces of value for advancing your music career, your actions will be of limited use until you
complete the self-analysis of your strong and weak areas in the way I explained here. After learning how to get the most from your current potential, your
progress towards a successful music career will become greatly enhanced.
To help you find out more about your current potential to develop your career as a professional musician, fill out this free successful music career test.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is an online guitar teacher, touring guitarist, and a member of the band Rhapsody Of Fire. As a professional music career mentor, he helps musicians from many countries break into the music industry. On his music instruction website you can find out how to become a pro musician and learn how the music industry works.