I heard a great interview recently with the singer/songwriter Sam Beam, aka “Iron And Wine”. He was asked what the secret to his success was and he replied, “If you treat it like a job, they’ll pay you like it’s a job”. I love this response, because it really sums up the attitude that is required to succeed in the music business.
It’s ironic to me that arguably one of the hardest and most competitive industries attracts a large percentage of people that seem to be looking for an alternative to working hard. I’m sure you’ve all encountered those types of “musicians”. The ones that are chronically late to rehearsals, who show up too stoned to play gigs, who sleep in until two in the afternoon. The music industry seems to attract a lot of slackers, at least in my experience.
But the reality is that to succeed in the music business, you’re going to need to work your ass off. You’re going to need to work harder than in most other industries. You’re going to need to practice. You’re going to need to take lessons. You’re going to need to book shows. You’re going to need to promote your music. You’re going to need to email publishers. You’re going to need to keep writing new songs. You’re going to need to record your songs professionally. You’re going to need to…. you get the idea, work!
To me it’s fairly obvious why more musicians don’t succeed. Music isn’t a profession that immediately pays well. You have to pay a lot of dues first. So what happens is a lot of musicians start out very enthusiastic about their careers, but somewhere along the way, life gets in the way. Bills pile up. Mortgage payments are due. Kids are born. Priorities change and music gets put on the back burner.
Let’s face it. Not everyone is meant to be or cut out to be a professional musician. But for those of us who are, and you know deep down if you are, let’s be realistic about the amount of work we need to put in to get the results we want. My band has a new manager, and she is pushing us harder than I’ve ever been pushed before. I have a four hour rehearsal tonight, after a very busy day of working and recording podcasts. I resent her sometimes for how hard she pushes us. But I know that she’s right. I know we need to work harder to get where we want to go.
It’s a lot like lifting weights and working out. I don’t particularly enjoy going to the gym and working out, but I sure do like the results I see when I look in the mirror.
In : January 2014
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