The Five Elements Of A Successful Music Career

Author: Tom Hess

Author: Tom Hess

Before you even think about becoming a successful pro musician, you need to know the five keys required for music career success. Regardless of what you want to accomplish in the music business, once you have all five keys, your success will be inevitable.

However, as long as you do NOT have these things in place (all of them at the same time), it won’t matter what you do… your success will be greatly limited.

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The following are the five main keys to success when growing a music career:

Music Career Success Key #1 – Don’t Set Realistic Goals

All musicians who have grown their music careers to great heights did not do so by pursuing what they thought was possible. Instead, they focused only on what they wanted to achieve. By pursuing the goals that inspire you the most, you will gain the motivation necessary for achieving them. More about this below…

Consider this – of the two options below, which one would force you to stop everything you’re doing and start growing your music career?:

a) Making a recording of a demo with a band and possibly playing a few shows around town.


b) Being the main songwriter for an epic album that sells millions of copies worldwide, then going on tour internationally – playing to massive festivals of fans and making a great living through music, without needing to work a regular job.

Even if your goals in the music business are entirely unrelated to releasing music, the point still applies: don’t let yourself accept anything less than what you truly want in your music career, just for the sake of being realistic. Life is too precious to live it by not doing the things you really desire. When you set goals for yourself that do not inspire you, it is nearly guaranteed that you will NEVER achieve the things you truly desire in music.

All of the great musicians you have ever known, are just normal people like you. They started from humble beginnings – whether it was without a band, having low musical skills or not understanding how the music industry works (as well as countless other situations). Imagine what kind of outcome would have happened for them had they decided that it wasn’t ‘realistic’ to sell records worldwide, tour internationally and build a huge fan base. Well, they didn’t… they chose to pursue BIG goals and this is very fortunate for them (and the music industry as a whole).

Be like them. Start building your music career based only on the goals that motivate you the most!

Music Career Success Key #2 – Live Your Music Career Dreams As If They Were Already Your Reality

Unsuccessful musicians make a critical mistake when planning the achievement of their musical goals: they begin from where they are and work toward the end goal.

On the other hand, musicians who achieve great success do something completely different. They plan their music career by beginning from the end point of achieving their goals, and work backwards to the present day. They imagine themselves having already accomplished their major goals, then build their lives around this vision. This is a much more effective way of accurately determining the actions required for putting together your music career. Discover more about this process by reading this article on reaching big musical goals.

Remove all uncertainty from the process of planning for success in the music business by working together with a music career mentor.

Music Career Success Key #3 – Start Living Or Start Dying

The two keys I mentioned above are critical for building a successful music career. With this in mind, you need more than just goals and a plan of action to realize your musical dreams. You have to take action each and every day to bring yourself closer to your goals. You might think this is common knowledge, but you would be shocked at how many musicians give up on their musical dreams simply due to lack of effort (in terms of taking physical action).

Think about this illustration (this is something I discuss with the musicians who I mentor): You’ve been diagnosed with some kind of illness that requires a critical surgery. If you don’t get this surgery done, you will die in 6 months. On top of that, the surgery costs a huge amount of money (100k+) and you can neither borrow money to pay for it nor get coverage from insurance. So you have one choice: You can do whatever it takes to make the money you need or you can give up and allow yourself to die.

Certainly this example is extreme, but it is a perfect illustration of the kind of mindset you need to have in order to build a successful music career. Making big moves (by taking action) in your music career is completely different than sitting around waiting for things to happen for you (allowing yourself to ‘die’).

That said, even if you work really hard, it makes no difference if you don’t actually know the right actions you should be taking. This is why music career success training is crucial for moving forward and reaching your musical goals as quickly as possible.

Music Career Success Key #4 – Make Sure Your Musical Goals Can Pass The ‘Why’ Test

It’s a fact that everything will not always go according to plan in your music career. It is in the most challenging times that your music career dedication will be put to the test. Examples of this could include:

  • Trying to record an album, but doing so at an extremely slow and frustrating pace because you never practiced developing your recording skills.
  • Working at a full time job you hate while wishing you could make music your job.
  • Playing at crappy bars all the time with your band because you don’t know how to move to bigger venues.
  • Working together with uninspired band mates who bring you (and the band) down.
  • Being clueless about how to get more music fans.

Here is how to develop the dedication needed to reach your music career goals:

Take out the piece of paper you have that contains the list of your written goals (that you put together in key #1 above). Then beside each one write down the big REASONS you have for pursuing them. For every musical goal you have, answer this question: “Why do I want to achieve this?” Spend a lot of time thinking about this for each goal before you write down your response, and look over your goals/reasons two times every day.

When you do this, you’ll develop the ability to maintain motivation and stay focused on the major reasons you have for reaching your goals. This will help you move forward in the difficult times when your dedication is put to the test.

To understand more about this, read this article about planning your musical goals.

Music Career Success Key #5 – Don’t Try To Make It In The Music Business With Your Hands Over Your Eyes

Once you are in possession of all 4 keys mentioned above, it’s still possible that your music career will go nowhere. This occurs when you lack certainty about what to do to achieve success, are (unknowingly) sabotaging yourself or lack effective strategies to help you reach your musical goals. The last key required for building your successful career in the music industry is to train with a mentor who has experience helping musicians take their careers to the highest level.

A true mentor does not merely instruct you on what you should be doing or tell you about the inner workings of the music industry. Instead, a great mentor helps you bring out the strengths you developed through attaining the first four keys and makes sure you are on the right path toward your goals at all times, while keeping you away from the obstacles that many musicians face (that often lead to them to failure). Without this expert guidance, you are trying to make it in the music business with your hands over your eyes and are unable to truly take advantage of your know-how, musical skills and hard work.

Now that you’ve learned the five keys that build the foundation of a successful music career, these are the steps you should take right now:

1. Work on getting the keys that you don’t have by following advice given throughout this article (and using the free resources I’ve included for you).

2. Train with a music career success mentor to begin reaching your musical goals fast.

About The Author:

Tom Hess is an online guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar player. He trains and mentors from all over the world on how to develop a successful career in music. On his musician improvement website you can find a lot of free music career resources and music industry articles.

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