Pursuing a music career is very different from most traditional careers in that there isn’t really a specific formula that is guaranteed to lead to a specific outcome. If you want to become a doctor or a lawyer you figure out how to pay for your education, you go to school, you take classes and you study. Assuming you do well enough in your classes, at the end of your education you are, with 100% certainty a doctor or a lawyer.
The path of a songwriter or a performing musician is very different. Sure, you can go to school to study music, but how well you do in your career will be dependent on a very large set of variables, many of which are out of your control. I think this uncertainty and ambiguity holds many musicians back. If the path ahead of you isn’t clear it’s hard to know what to do. It’s hard to know what the right action or actions are. Sometimes this uncertainty can paralyze musicians. With so many different paths and potential outcomes it can be very confusing.
One of the best pieces of advice I was given came from a producer I worked with many years ago. He said, “Aaron, the only thing I can tell you for sure is that if you don’t try to make it music you definitely won’t succeed. If you try to succeed, there’s no guarantee that you will, but if you don’t even try, you definitely won’t”. This simple advice articulates the dilemma of being a musician about as well as I’ve ever heard it articulated. If you try to succeed in the music business you might not, but if you don’t try you DEFINITELY won’t.
Since there isn’t really one sure path that will lead to success (that I know of), I’ve come up with a very simple formula that I practice most days to move my career forward. It’s really very simple. The formula is to just do something, every single day, that will potentially move my career forward. That’s it. Just do something every day. Maybe one day I’ll make a few submissions to music supervisors. Another day I’ll book a show at a new venue. Another day I’ll working on posting new youtube videos and promoting them. It’s really not hard to find things to do to move your music career forward. There are so many different way to reach new fans in this day and age. Pick something every day and do it.
So, what has this net effect of following this strategy been so far? Well, I’m still not a household name. But I’m playing and performing more music than ever. I’m making more money directly from songwriting and performing than ever. In my humble opinion I’m playing and singing better than ever. For the first time in a long time, I’m happy with where I am as a musician. I still strive to go further of course. But, I know I’m doing my best at the moment to move things forward. Will I reach all my goals? I really don’t know. I think so. But I might not. But I know for sure, with 100% certainty, that if I quit I definitely won’t make it.
In : December 2013
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