A Guaranteed Path To Failure In The Music Business

Posted by Aaron Davison on Thursday, July 3, 2014 Under: July 2014

I write a lot about redefining your sense of success in the music business.  However I want to be clear, I want everyone, myself included, to be as successful as possible in our endeavors.  I want you all to make as much money as you can from music and have your music reach as many people as possible.  I know from experience that when you become overly concerned with the outcome, in any pursuit, it becomes harder to enjoy the process and the journey.  The road to success in the music business is a long journey for most.  I want you to enjoy each and every step of the way, without becoming overly obsessive with where you are at any particular stage. 

Make sense?  Great, let’s continue.

So what is the key to success in the music business?  Is there a formula or path that will guarantee success? Hmmm, interesting question, let’s come back to it. First though, let’s look at the other end of the spectrum.  Is there a formula or path that will guarantee failure in the music business?  I can think of one, which is simply quitting.  If you quit pursuing music you are almost guaranteed a certain path to failure.  I think we can all agree on that.  So is not quitting a guaranteed path to success?  Well, not quite, but it’s a vitally important component.

I used to be a really big fan of the band Phish.  I still am actually, although not quite as fervent of a follower as I used to be.  I think it’s fair to say they are considered very successful in the music business. Thirty years into their career they consistently are one of the highest grossing touring bands in North America.  In 2013 they grossed 34.6 million dollars on the road.  They made more touring than Kanye West, Drake, Marc Anthony, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and many other better known artists.  (Oh and just an interesting side note, 2013 was a record year for the concert business in North America.  There were 5.1 billion dollars in concert tickets sold last year, an all time high! And you thought the music business was dead?)

I listened to an interview with the drummer of Phish a couple nights ago, Jon Fishman.  When asked what he thought the secret to their success was he said he thought the most important thing was that they never quit or broke up.  He cited a statistic that 80% of all bands break up before the four year mark and that 90% of all bands broke up before the ten year mark.  In Phish’s case it took them about ten years before they saw massive success.

Now I’m not trying to convince you that if you simply pursue music for more than ten years you’re going to be a rock star and I’m also not trying to convince you that you need to like Phish.  What I am trying to convince you of is that if you want to be as successful as you can possibly be in the music business, you need to keep going.  In other words, you can’t quit!

I don’t think the goal should be to become as successful as Phish or Kanye West or any one particular group or artist.  The goal should be to find out how successful you can be.  There’s really only one way to find that out. Don’t quit!

In : July 2014 

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