I am contacted frequently by aspiring professional musicians with tons of questions about how to succeed in the music industry. Very few of the musicians ask ‘good’ questions… while the rest ask all the ‘wrong’ questions that:
1. Are based on common myths and misunderstandings about the music industry.
2. Seem like good questions on the surface, but are actually questions containing various assumptions that will put them off course (leading them away from their ultimate musical goals).
3. Pass over other important actions that the person should be taking to develop their career. I discussed this concept previously in an article I wrote about becoming a professional musician.
To grow your music career fast, you need to understand which questions you are asking that are leading you down the wrong path and replace those questions with much higher quality ones that will help you reach your greatest musical goals in little time.
The following questions are the worst questions you can ask when trying to succeed in the music industry:
Bad Music Career Question #1: How Do I Get A Recording Contract?
In order to understand why this is not a good questions to ask, answer this: “Why should someone give YOU a recording contract?” If you think it’s because you write good music… try again. This is never a good enough reason for someone to sign you to a recording contract. No one is going to invest many thousands of dollars into you just because you can write good music. This would be WAY too risky of an investment (so much so that it doesn’t even make sense). Imagine that you saved up $200,000, would you then go to a casino and put it all on the line for one spin of the roulette? OR would you instead invest it into someone who has proven that they can help you earn even more (at least at a smaller level)? No doubt, you would make the wise choice and invest it into someone who would help you make more money. This is how recording labels think. So stop wondering about how you can get signed to a recording contract and start turning yourself into a ‘wise investment’ that any label would immediately see as valuable. This requires much more than writing great music, playing your instrument well or having a Facebook page.
Here are the actions you should be taking to make yourself into a great investment for a record company:
1. Know precisely what music companies look for in a musician before they sign them to a contract.
2. Do anything you can by yourself to grow your music career. Record companies will observe your ‘track record’ of success before they consider if working with you will be the right choice for them. The more you have accomplished on your own (as an independent musician) the greater the chances are that you will attract the interest of a music company.
3. Get music business training from an experienced mentor who has already helped lots of musicians just like you get signed to recording contracts and grow successful music careers.
When you begin successfully growing your music career on your own, you won’t have to continue trying to find ways to get a record deal – record companies will come looking for you!
Bad Music Career Question #2: Do I Have To Become A ‘Starving Artist’?
A lot of people believe that making a living as a professional musician means one of two things: Either you ‘make it’ and go on to tour the world and sell millions of albums or you ‘become a starving artist’ and have to play at crappy bars and street corners just to get by. This music business myth makes sabotages people’s careers from the start, either by making them believe they need to get full time jobs unrelated to music and ‘try to do music on the side’, or be afraid of trying to enter the music business.
In reality, there exist tons of ways to earn good money in the music business and there is actually a HUGE ‘middle class’ in the music industry. In fact, it’s EASIER to earn good money with a secure job as a professional musician than it is to become successful in other fields of business. However, before you can make this happen, you need to ask a higher quality question. Rather than worry about how you can ‘avoid’ becoming a starving artist, you need to be thinking “How many different ways do I want to earn good money in the music industry?”
As you work in the music business, you are not forced to live from one paycheck to the next like in a normal day job. Instead, it’s always possible to be earning multiple sources of income at the same time. This makes becoming a professional musician a much more stable career choice since you don’t have to be dependent on just ONE source of income. In addition to the obvious ways that musicians seek to make money in music (selling albums/downloads, playing live shows or recording as a session musician), there is one thing you can do right now that will quickly boost your music related income:
Teach music lessons and build a large student base. This will instantly create various sources of income (having many different students) through working only part time hours every week. This will give you the free time to work on building your music career. Learn how to teach guitar lessons so you can begin teaching music right now.
When you build many sources of musical income as discussed above, it’s very possible (and not as hard as you might think) to annually earn more than $100k in your music career (I know this, because I’ve helped many musicians to do it). To get more information about this topic, read this article about earning money in music.
Bad Music Career Question #3: What Is The Best Music City To Relocate To?
It is a common belief that your chances for success in the music industry will rise significantly when you move to a city with a major music scene. Musicians will even pack up and move thousands of miles to a place like Nashville or New York with the hopes that success will simply fall into their lap. Then when success never comes, they blame it on the city and move somewhere else (totally clueless about the REAL reasons why they aren’t succeeding).
Here’s the truth about ‘location’ leading to success in the music industry: Your location has nothing to do with your ability to become a successful pro musician. This applies particularly today when it is easier than ever for someone to get a recording contract, put out music, organize world tours or work as a session musician regardless of where they live. Highly successful musicians do not become that way because they lived in one area rather than another. If that were true, there would be zero successful musicians living in cities that are not known for big music scenes. The principles that lead to developing a successful music career apply exactly the same regardless of where you live.
Instead of wasting your time and energy trying to locate the best music scene, follow the same steps that have been PROVEN to work for musicians time and time again. Do this:
1. Clearly identify your greatest music career goals (use this article about setting musical goals).
2. Work with a music industry mentor to help you develop a clear and effective strategy for reaching your goals.
3. Invest time into achieving your goals every day until you have finally reached them.
When you focus your energy where it needs to be (using the process above) vs. worrying about outside factors such as where you live, you will accomplish great success in much less time.
Bad Music Career Question #4: How Can I Get My Music ‘Heard’ By More People?
The majority of musicians want to get their music heard by as many people as possible, believing that this will help them earn money and become successful pro musicians. However, the quantity of people who listen to your music is not very significant in and of itself. What really matters is the amount of people you are able to turn into a highly dedicated fans who will do anything to support you and your music.
So instead of asking yourself “How can I get more people to listen to my music?” you must ask: “How can I develop a following of dedicated FANATICS?” Only after you have asked (and take action on) this question will it become necessary to get a lot more people to hear your music (because it will then be much more likely that you will be able to turn them into committed followers).
To find out more about earning money in your music career and getting more fans, read more about how to promote music.
Now that you’ve learned why many common music career questions actually steer your music career down the wrong path, here is what you need to do to get back onto the right path:
Step 1. Think more in depth about your music career goals. Use the resources in this article to gain clarity about how the music industry works.
Step 2. Start asking yourself high quality questions on a consistent basis when trying to figure out what you must do to reach your music career goals.
Step 3. Don’t build your music career alone. Get music business training to quickly achieve big things in the music industry.