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The Invisible Common Denominator.

I’m known in the music industry for doing thorough research. Some of my research projects have spanned more than a thousand hours each. This particular journey led me to discover something I call vice watch. Let me explain.

A lot of my research began while I myself was being mentored and apprenticed by some of the most admired names in the music industry; Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, Phil Ramone, Steve Lillywhite and more.

There is a definite common denominator that has been practiced by all of my mentors. That common denominator when I tell you may sound wrong, or too trite and simple at first glance to even mention.

So often it seems that the actual power of truth is made invisible by the effective mask called simplicity.

I’ve grown enough wisdom over the years to learn something fascinating. The more simple a truth, the harder it is to see. And yet when discovered and applied it becomes life changing.

The Simple Truth

The common denominator of all my mentors was not just that they NEVER GAVE UP, it was HOW THEY NEVER GAVE UP.

“Don’t give up.” I know, you’ve heard it a million times before. No need to write another article about it. Right?

Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe this article shines a new light on a trite subject that could help save your career.

I took that simple truth, “Don’t give up,” and researched the hell out of it until I could deliver to my students a WAY of never giving up that worked every single time it was applied.

Like most discoveries, I found it when I needed it most (necessity IS the mother of invention after all). Vice watch.

There was a time in my career (actually TIMES) I felt totally overwhelmed. I felt I could NOT keep going with my home studio, that I could not keep going with my music career. Too many challenges and problems all happening at one time. I call these times in my life my “Trial & Terror” days. (Months is more like it).

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Challenges and Problems

See if you can relate to any of these challenges and problems which can, when added up, create the feeling of overwhelm. Especially when you sit down to work on that one thing that should be giving you complete joy in your home studio: music!

  • Computer Frustrations
  • Financial Stress
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Relationship Drama and Family Stress
  • Certain People in Your Life Pulling You Down
  • Contrary & Confusing Tutorials, Lessons and Courses on Music Production
  • Not Enough Time to Learn Enough About Your DAW
  • Not Enough Time to Make Your Recordings Sound Polished
  • Lack of Confidence In Your Ear
  • Lack of Confidence In Yourself as an Artist, Musician, Producer, Engineer
  • Lack of Confidence in Yourself as a Person
  • Stress from Your Day Job
  • Not Having Enough Good Contacts
  • Not Getting Any Breaks in Your Career
  • Too Much Time Needed for Social Media Promotion and Distribution
  • Too Many Distractions on the Internet and Social Media
  • Health Problems Arising from All of the Above

How & Why I Never Gave Up With My Home Studio

I’m going to save you time by getting straight to the bottom line. One thing I know for sure: If you are still reading this article you don’t have time to waste.

Over the years, I developed a way of mentoring and apprenticing as a Life Coach that always works for my students when followed.

From my direct observation, this approach parallels HOW my mentors kept going. HOW they never gave up.

It has to do with character and responsibility.

Vice Watch – A Step-By-Step Approach to “Self-Serve” Life Coaching

You can do this on your own. If you have trouble mustering up enough discipline to maintain this approach — collaborate with someone and help each other through.

This approach to Life Coaching is called “Vice Watch,” so named by one of my students, Robin Kaye of Australia, after he found success by following it.

STEP ONE:

Make a list of all the conceivable vices in which humans could engage on this planet.

Definition of Vice:

A Vice is a practice, behaviour, or habit generally considered wrong, immoral, sinful, criminal, rude, taboo, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, a vice can refer to a fault, a negative character trait, a defect, or a bad or unhealthy habit.

This is a very personal step. Everyone’s list will be different.

Divide the list into two categories: ACTION and INACTION.

Important Note: Pay close heed to the definition of Inaction: Lack of action where action is expected or appropriate.

Here are a few of many possible examples:

A List of All Possible Human ACTION VICES
  • Excessive Drinking
  • Taking Drugs
  • Gambling
  • Gambling in Life (Taking Stupid Risks and Knowing It)
  • Putting Oneself Down
  • Stealing
  • Cheating
  • Lying
  • Being Rude to Others
  • Bad Sportsmanship
  • Eating Junk Foods
  • Eating Too Much
  • Releasing Music Knowing It’s Not Done Yet
  • Excessive Time On Social Media
  • Excessive Time Playing Video Games
  • Using Cracked Software and Plug-Ins
  • Etc., etc., etc.
All Possible Human INACTION VICES
  • Ignoring One’s Children, Spouse, Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Family, etc.
  • Neglecting Needed Paperwork (Taxes, Licensing Contracts, etc.)
  • Not Educating Oneself Daily Regarding One’s DAW
  • Not Educating Oneself Daily Regarding Music Theory
  • Not Educating Oneself Daily Regarding (Fill In The Blank)
  • Not Exercising
  • Not Sleeping Enough
  • Procrastinating (List Specific Areas of Life)
  • Giving Up on One’s Dreams
  • Etc., etc., etc.

STEP TWO:

Look over your list of ACTION VICES and INACTION VICES in Step One above.

Place a checkmark next to the vices that you consider apply to you. Be as honest as possible.

STEP THREE:

Rate each vice that you have checked off using the following system:

The lowest Minus 10 up to the highest Plus 11.

Keep your list and your ratings written down and updated on a weekly basis.

How the Rating System Breaks Down

Minus 10 means the particular vice in question is literally ruining your life. Regardless of how things look on the outside to others, you know honestly that that Vice is literally ruining your life. Left unchecked, other areas of your life will get worse.

As you improve each vice that you checked off, the numbers will move closer towards zero. Minus 10, minus 9, minus 8, etc.

Zero = Vice conquered.

A Zero means the vice in question is no longer a problem in your life – at all. Period. Gone. Vanquished. This is a big deal and can take some time to accomplish. The point is to work on this vice watch daily, and to note down your ratings weekly. Some people go so far as to note down their ratings daily.

Collaborations

When collaborating (which is a great way to hold yourself and another accountable) there is no need or pressure to share what your vices are. Simply assign each vice a letter, such as A, B, C, D – and a number. All you have to do is let your collaborator know the letter of your vice and the number rating for the week. Some people are OK with sharing what their vices are, some are not. I found that even if one keeps their vices to themselves and shares only letters, this approach still works just as well.

What the Positive Numbers Mean

During my initial research, I set up this approach to life coaching where conquering one’s vice was the final goal and the end of the game.

And then I discovered something that changed my life.

Once you reach zero (vice conquered), it’s now time to help OTHERS conquer THEIR vices. Therefore, a Plus One means you have conquered your vice and are now actively helping one other person conquer that same vice.

Plus Two means you are actively helping two other people conquer that same vice, and so on (Plus Three, Plus Four, Plus Five, etc.) Once you get to Plus Ten (meaning you are actively helping ten other people conquer that same vice), there is one more level up you can achieve: Plus Eleven.

The Goal

Plus Eleven means you are actively helping more than ten other people conquer that same vice.

What is the goal of this approach to Life Coaching?

The Goal is to improve your “numbers” until you achieve an eleven on each of your vices.

Why does this work so well?

I learned from my Mentors that life is a group activity. One cannot be an island and truly achieve one’s potential. You need a team.

Just improving yourself IS NOT ENOUGH.

However, you can’t just “build a team” either, you’ve got to work on yourself as well. You see the balance here?

In my online course The Lucrative Home Studio, I lay out exactly how to build your team by hiring interns, and how to help them achieve their goals and dreams – by being PART OF A TEAM.

Besides the legendary mentors I listed earlier, I was also very lucky to apprentice under the team that supports 25 Time Grammy Award Winning Legendary Musician Chick Corea (Nominated 51 Times!). For two years I learned an incredible amount of wisdom about how to run a business in the music industry and how to organize your personal life and professional life. One reference shared with me, which has helped me successfully apprentice many musicians around the world, is a common sense guide to morals called The Way To Happiness.

The Results

The results are nothing short of life changing and mind-blowing. What this does to someone’s music career can only be described as miraculous. That is all I can say. Here is one of many testimonials I recently received:

“Gary, as important as everything you have taught me about music and music production truly is, I NEVER thought this seemingly unrelated and counterintuitive approach to shattering the “glass ceiling” of my career would result in achieving not only my goals in the music industry (including making more money!), but going way above and beyond what even I believed my potential for success was! I was ready to GIVE UP FOR GOOD. In fact, I had already started packing up my studio. Thank you is not enough! I’m giving back by working hard on a daily basis to get my Vice Watch “numbers” up to eleven!”

Summary

I found that when people give up on their home studios and/or their music careers, it’s usually the result of not working hard enough at strengthening themselves, followed by not building up a team for real. The secret is to work on both at the same time. That’s how you achieve success you can bank on.

When people work on both at the same time, their lives achieve a much better balance, and they become what I call “magnets for miracles.” And many of those miracles show up in the form of unexpected music career successes.

You can see the results of not addressing your vices show up in the following ways; distractions pulling your focus away from what you are doing, feeling exhausted, repeating the same mistakes over and over, not able to persist on an action until it’s truly done, allowing others to pull you down, and ultimately — giving up.

The Vice Watch approach to Self-Serve Life Coaching is an amazingly simple and effective insurance plan against giving up.

The bottom line is this — give it a try. Do it. And let me know how it goes. You might be pleasantly surprised. And don’t be afraid to reach out for help along the way.

I’m always here to listen and to help.

I do believe this article is the most important article I will probably ever write. I am, in essence, working right now on getting my Vice Watch “numbers” up to eleven by helping you!

My personal mission statement is simple. “To create a Renaissance in the entertainment industry which will then create a Renaissance in the world culture.”

Here’s to a balanced life which leads to a productive and successful music career for you!

That’s what we are trying to do at the New Artist Model.

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Written by Gary Gray creator of The Lucrative Home Studio. Out of his one bedroom home studio, he’s completed major projects for The Disney Music Group and 20th Century Fox, CBS Daytime Television, A&E, Megatrax, EMI Production Music London, and others. 

Check out Gary's free Mastering Music for Licensing and Streaming webinar

Check out Gary’s free “Mastering Music for Licensing and Streaming” Webinar

For more information regarding revolutionary approaches to life and music production for the home studio developed by Gary, check out The Lucrative Home Studio.

If you want to work directly with Gary, sign up to get one of your songs critiqued.

A version of this post was also published on the Tunecore blog.

There’s an interesting divide among musicians. For some, music is just a hobby, and that’s fine. But others need more. Everyone starts as a hobby musician, but eventually some want to take the next step. Unfortunately, moving from a hobby musician to a career musician is no easy task.

You might be surprised to hear this, but what really separates the professionals from all the other musicians isn’t their skills. It’s not their mastery of guitar picking techniques or the number of songs they’ve written. Heck, it’s even their ability to play a killer show. What matters is how they think about their music career. That’s what really sets them apart. It’s a shift in mindset.

Anyone can practice for hours and hours on end and get their chops really tight. But no matter how good you are, if you’re just playing or writing in your room or rehearsing in your garage, no one will ever know about you. If you find yourself feeling stuck and unsure of how to make music your career, try out these 5 tips:

1. A professional musician finds their own path

A big motivator for a lot of musicians just starting their career is the hugely famous artists playing in huge venues for crowds of thousands of people. Naturally, we all want to be like them. However, the common approach is to try to do exactly what they did. To follow their steps to the tee to get to the big league.

But in reality, this is probably the worst approach. Professional musicians know that they forge their own path every step of the way. Every artist’s career is SO unique and there’s really no single path to success. If you have your blinders up and are completely focused on one thing, you’re probably going to miss other opportunities that are right in front of you.

2. A professional musician makes a plan

Although a lot of the stories make it seem this way, all your favorite musicians and bands didn’t just wake up one day in front of a crowd of thousands of people. They spent years and years practicing, rehearsing, and above all, making a plan for themselves.

Set yourself goals to accomplish in one year, six months, one month, and this week. Having something clear and tangible you’re working towards will help you focus your efforts. You’ll have an easier time knowing which opportunities you should really push for, because you’ll know where you ultimately want to be in the end.

Let me guide you step-by-step through creating your own action plan:

3. A professional musician understands that collaboration is key

In some ways, musicians are competing against each other. They are competing for gigs and the attention of an audience. But the professional artists always make it a point to teach, learn, collaborate, and give out opportunities when they can.

If you’re just focused on you and what you want to accomplish, you’re going to miss out on a ton of opportunities that could come to you in the form of your connections with other musicians. Even if you’re just starting out, everyone has something to offer. You could bring some of your fans to a collaborative show, you could send out a tweet or two about how awesome another band is. If you always try to contribute to a relationship instead of just taking, others will remember you and give back.

4. A professional musician knows that this is a people business

As important as social media is, the music industry is still a people business. You could have thousands of followers on Twitter, but that doesn’t always convert into real gigs or real album sales. For the most part, venue owners, booking agents, managers, and other artists work with people they know. So you need to make it a point to know as many people as possible.

Now, this might seem like a big barrier, especially if you’re just starting out. After all, you probably don’t know the guy in charge of local bookings, or the indie publisher that works with your favorite indie artists, or the producer in the local studio. But everyone has a network of connections that you can start building off of. And each new connection, no matter how insignificant it may seem in the grand scheme of things, exponentially increases the size of your network. Remember this: there is no such thing as a bad connection in music.

5. A professional musician never stops learning

Another habit of professional musicians is that they never stop learning. Music is a lifelong journey. You will never get to the point when you can say “Okay, I’m a master musician”. There’s always some new technique that you can learn, something you can improve, something you could be doing better or more efficiently.

Don’t get discouraged by this. It’s one of the things that makes being a musician so exciting. The thrill of waking up and knowing that there’s more to explore in music is the drive that keeps all of us going. It’s one of the beauties of creativity.

Not only should you be striving to improve your playing and your writing, you should also be working towards a better understanding of the music business and a closer relationship with your fans. In the New Artist Model online music business school you’ll learn how to turn your music into a successful business – one where you are the CEO. You’ll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you achieve a career in music, and you’ll be able to do it all with the resources you have available right now.

If you’d like more strategies like these, you can download this ebook for free. It will take you through some of the best strategies for indie musicians to help you grow your fanbase and your career.

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bUztue

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bUztue

“Why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment?”

I wake up every day fascinated by this question. There are plenty of articles written by people looking into the music industry from the outside proclaiming the end of an era and the doom of indie musicians. Many ask this question and simply cannot comprehend why anyone would want to spend so much time and creative energy on something that may never bring in any real money. And who can blame them given the industry’s overall decline.

Within the business however, some musicians have a completely different outlook. For them, music is just what they do. It’s not about making a ton of money, or trying to impress anyone – its just a way of life, a dream to live.  It’s like breathing.  These people believe that they have the privilege to create. Almost the obligation to do so.

The question these musicians ask  is “How could I not be a musician?”

As we talk about in the New Artist Model course, the love of music is a prerequisite to a life as a successful musician. If people went into the arts to with a sole purpose to make money – there would be no magic – and that creative spark and passion that drives so many people to create would not be present. Music goes beyond money and economics, and isn’t that why it’s so powerful?

Some people are musicians because they just have to be.  The truly great ones.  So there’s my answer.   Are you one of those people?

If you’re one of the passionate one’s who is dedicated to making a life in music, check out this free ebook and learn everything you need to know about finding your own success in the music industry.

I’d love to know what you think.

I posted the question “Why Would Anyone Want to be a Musician in this Environment?” to Twitter and this is what I got in the first hour.

musicadium@davekusek I would want to be a musician no matter what environment we were in. The desire to create would override, methinks.

andreakremer@davekusek Isn’t that like asking why anyone would want to play tennis? Do people who play tennis give up because they can’t make a profit?

timothyeric@davekusek fascinated that people still want to be musicians or by the environment and its challenges?

kmsolorio@davekusek passion is the only reason I could come up with. btw, very interested in learning more about your tools for musicians.

marjae@davekusek I am a musician because I love music and, more importantly, sharing it with people. This sharing gives a high unlike any other.

marjae@davekusek Great question! It would be great if you could share some of your replies with us. . . the questions certainly made me think!

Lars_Christian@davekusek I think that if “he environment is a factor on whether you become a musician or not, you probably won’t “make it” either way.

tigerpop@davekusek it’s not always about want.

Pattyoboe@davekusek Being a musician is just who I am … no matter the environment. Maybe like I was still a mom when my kids acted up, I guess ..?

gah650@davekusek it’s an inexorable artistic need to create; thank God.

melbahead@davekusek If being a musician is anything like being a visual artist then it doesn’t matter what one wants. It’s a compulsion, a calling

_willthompson@davekusek it’s extremely hard and counterintuitive to hold back from doing something you have natural predisposition for.

kimpwitmanRT @davekusek: why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment? can someone tell me? i wake up every day fascinated by this.

manishamusic@davekusek Being a musician is not particularly easy in any market-based economy. Something deep inside steers the wheels. Is it insanity?

PtbTrees@davekusek perhaps the love of music is enough to make it worth it. at least thats how I feel

atomicdacia@davekusek because its like a drug. Once its in you you just can’t get enough

Kalajdame@davekusek it seems like an easy way to make money i guess..i do it cuz i love to make music and if i could get paid for it ..u kno the rest

You can love what you do and be successful.

Tell us what drives you.

 

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dfwQFR

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dfwQFR

Music goals are really the driving force behind your music career. Musicians, more so than most other people, are familiar with the power of goals. That need to improve – to play better, create better, and perform better than you did yesterday – is what gets you up every morning. It’s what keeps you excited and passionate.

I’m sure you’ve set music goals for yourself. Maybe you want to finish writing that song you’ve been working on. Or refine your technique on the double bass pedal. Perhaps you want to find that perfect sound for the violin track. Or maybe you want to learn a new song in time for band practice this week. Musicians are constantly – whether conscious or not – pushing themselves towards goals. It’s part of the job. It’s part of the mindset that makes a musician. Musicians are some of the most dedicated people on the planet.

You’re a musician. You know how to set music goals and push yourself. Now, you need to put that same dedication into your career goals. You’ve no doubt seen how the goals you set for your art have improved you as a player, a performer, and a writer. After all, there was a time when you were picking up that instrument for the first time. You can experience that same amount of improvement in your career with some smart goal setting.

Need help setting your goals? Download this free ebook and worksheet and I’ll guide you through setting powerful goals that will move your career forward.

The following was written by Simon Tam for Music Think Tank.

Specific Music Goals

Ask yourself the big questions: Who, what, when, where, why, when? A specific goal lets you know what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it by, why you are doing it, who will be involved, and where it will happen.

For example, a goal I’ve used before: Tour the continental U.S in August 2013 with at least 18 shows, playing a mixture of all-ages, 21+, and convention shows making an average of $500 per night. Also, see an increase on social media and web traffic by at least 10% and increase online sales by 20% for the month before, during, and after the tour. Those are all specific targets that I can definitely measure against.

Measurable

A goal should have specific metrics so you know if you’re making progress. If you have one larger goal, you should break it up into smaller parts over the course of time. That way, you and your team can always know where you stand against the overall goal. During this time you should be asking questions with how, when, and what: how much do you have left to go? When will you reach your goal? What do you have to do to stay on track?

Using the tour goal listed above, one could easily measure against the goal in a number of ways:

  • How many shows have been booked for August 2013? What kinds of shows have been booked?

  • How much income is being earned per night?

  • What is the average monthly online sales? Have they increased – and if so, by how much?

  • What do I need to do to help increase merch sales, at shows or online?

Attainable Music Goals

The goals that you develop should be ambitious but realistic. If you focus on what you can do, it sometimes reveals new opportunities. For example, potential sponsors – many are probably in your own backyard but are often overlooked for the larger, sexier opportunities.

Goals should grow with you. As you gain more resources, abilities, finances, and followers, your goals should get respectively larger. Having them just out of reach helps you stretch. However, having them too far away will only cause frustration.

Relevant

The goals that you choose should matter. They should motivate you and drive your career forward. For example, I’ve talked to many artists who have a goal of playing a large festival like SXSW even though it doesn’t relate to their current state of their music career. Things shouldn’t be goals just because others are doing them. Ask yourself these questions: Is this the right time? Is this worthwhile? How will this directly help me?

Timely

Your goals should have a time-bound deadline. When would you like to reach your goal by? If your goal is shrouded in the idea of “someday,” you’ll have a much more difficult time of reaching it. If you want to achieve a goal by the end of the year, you’ll work more aggressively for it. For example, if your goal is to sell 5,000 records, you would treat it much differently if that was 5,000 someday as opposed to 5,000 by December.

Everyone

Goals in a band should have everyone involved. People should be on the same page, have the right expectations, and the proper work ethic for reaching the goal.

Also, when I saw everyone, I mean everyone. This includes spouses or other people whom we depend on for support. If your band members would like to tour 8-10 months out of the year but their significant others aren’t supportive of that goal, some serious issues could arise – especially when that opportunity presents itself. .

Revisited

Goals should be revisited often. Not only should you be checking on your progress toward your goal, but you should also see if those goals need to be adjusted. Ask: are these goals still relevant? Is this what I want/need still?

How can you make your music goals SMARTER this year?

This post is by Bob Lefsetz from the Lefsetz Letter. To read the full article, click here.

1. You have to NEED to make it.

Wanting to make it is not enough. It must be your one true calling. If you’re willing to be broke, with no direction home, you might possibly make it. Sacrifice is the key element. If you’re not willing to sacrifice your home, your relationship, forgo children and sleep on the floor when you’re forty, don’t expect to make it in music, certainly don’t expect to sustain.

2. You have to be great.

Good is not good enough. You’ve got to blow our minds.

3. You can’t do it alone.

That’s an Internet fiction, from a decade past, that if you just posted something online it could cut through the noise. You need a team. The most important team members are:

a. A lawyer

b. A manager

c. An agent.

If you’re not at the point in your career that you can hire a team, delegate the tasks to your band members, or work with a friend who has some music business knowledge. Just make sure these jobs get done!

4. Believers

Sure, you need fans. But all they can do is pay for your Kickstarter record, and have you noticed we hear no more Kickstarter stories, that the outlet is the new BlackBerry, something that used to be that is no longer? If you’re just speaking to your fans, getting money from them, you might be able to survive, but you’ll never be able to grow.

You need people to believe in you. They need to do favors for you, get you on the radio, get you placed on shows, give you a chance to demonstrate your wares. Make connections everywhere you go. With other musicians, the sound guy at the club, the local venue owner, the local film maker or photographer. If you’re totally DIY, you’re gonna be living in your basement.

5. Learning

We live in a country where no one can admit they’re wrong. If you’re not willing to question every choice, do it differently next time, you’re never going to make it. Three years ago, almost everything I’ve said above would be different. You could go viral by your lonesome, social networking worked. But times change. You once used your aforementioned BlackBerry and were thrilled to get your e-mail on the run, now it’s all about apps. People hate change, but those who are willing to do so win. Kind of like in Silicon Valley, where it’s called “the Pivot.” Your original idea didn’t work, so you take the core and go in a different direction. You might think you’re a rocker, but truly you might be a country artist. You might think you’re a singer, but you might really be a songwriter, or a producer.

6. Pay little attention to those who are popular.

By the time you get your chance, completely different people and paradigms might rule. Originality is the key to longevity. Be yourself, not someone else.

7. Popularity.

Means people like you and your music. It comes with haters, because it’s so hard to break through, people are going to be angry that you did. You’ll be told you’re ugly, that your music sucks, that you can’t sing, that you’ve got no talent, but don’t believe it. It’s so hard to make it that if you have, pat yourself on the back and do your best to survive.

8. Longevity.

One hit and you can get royalties forever. Maybe even live dates. But chances are you’ll have to have a day job. The rule is, the harder it is to do, the better the chance of survival. Which is why doctors can always be employed, even if they bitch about their compensation. The barrier to entry to music is miniscule, so there are always others who are eager to take your place. The more skills you’ve got under your belt, the better your chance at lasting. But don’t be holier than thou that you can read music and got a degree, these are just tools, building blocks, a foundation, it’s what you build on top that counts.

9. Be nice.

It’s the key to making it. If you’re a jerk, no one’s going to want to work for you, go out of their way to promote you. Constantly say thank you and go out of your way to be appreciative.

10. Sour grapes.

Are gonna pull you down. The woulda, shoulda, coulda posse can tell an interesting story over a beer, but these people never succeed. Life is full of challenges, if you haven’t been screwed, you haven’t played the game. The road to success is paved with humiliation, you can complain about it or swallow it and realize it’s dues.

Are you ready to make it? Join the revolution. Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list.

Some of the most powerful advice in the music industry comes from people who worked hard and found their own success. At one point in their life they were just a musician or music lover with a dream. They learned from their mistakes and are here to tell the tale to the next generation of rising musicians and music entrepreneurs.

This post originally ran on Cyber PR. Here’s a consolidated list of 10 tips, but to see all 49 be sure to check out the full article. This advice comes from women in the music industry, but it can be used by anyone.

1. The Three P’s

Christine Ben Ameh
“The 3 PS- 1. Patience. 2. Perseverance. 3.Practice (Makes perfect).”
Recording Artist/Songwriter 
@CHRISTINE_AMEH

2. Fans First

Louise Dodgson
“Always put your fans first. Too many bands & artists are concerned with attracting the interest of the music industry. But the best way to do so is usually to forget all about it! Concentrate on your fans. Communicating with them and working hard to expand your fan base. Making the music and sharing it with people who really appreciate what you do is the enjoyable part. Your fans will help create the buzz for you and if you’re doing your own thing with a keen and constantly growing following, the music industry will no doubt catch up to you in due course.”
Editor, The Unsigned Guide
@editorunsigned

3. Don’t Fear Failure

Roswitha Bartussek
“Envision your destiny and take small daily steps towards it. Don’t be afraid to fail, the more often you fail the more likely you will succeed. Be your authentic self, don’t try to fit in, carve out your niche.”

Artist, CEO of Queen Rose, Inc.

@queenrose

4. The Truth Will Set You Free

Erin Dickins
“ Tell the truth – in music and life – never sing a lyric that you wouldn’t have as an epithet. Never do anything artistically to please anyone else. It’s all you – be authentically you – in your passion, your joy and your dreams. Shine your light big and bright no matter how big the challenges. Love every minute of the journey.”
(not just a) Jazz VOCALIST – Recording artist on Dot Time Records
@erindickins

5. Find Your Tribe

Barb Morrison
“Work with people (whether it be a manager, a producer, an agent, a publicist or a record label) who GET you. Having someone fully understand what you’re trying to say with your music is crucial. It’s much more important than how connected they are in the industry.”
Record producer & film score composer
@barbmorrison

6. It’s Not All About You

Cheryl Engelhardt
“Your results are not about you- they show up when you create an opportunity of value for someone else. I use this nugget when pitching music-to-music supervisors, getting a film-scoring gig, when talking with a potential coaching client, or even when inviting a friend to a movie. “What’s in it for them?” is the phrase I have running through my head before making a request of anyone.”
Songwriter / Composer / Creative Career Coach
@CBE

7. Listen

Madalyn Sklar
“Passion and persistence will get you far. Don’t be afraid to go big. Surround yourself with smart, motivated, like-minded people (join or start a mastermind group). Listen. Listening will get you further than anything else.”
Founder, GoGirlsMusic
@madalynsklar

8. Respect Everyone

Lauren McKinley
“Realize that this industry is ever changing and relatively small.  Not only should you respect everyone you meet and/or work with, but also you should always offer help where you can.  The people you help today will be the ones helping you tomorrow.”
Owner, Clover Marketing & Management
@CloverMktg or @LFMcKinley

9. Be True To Yourself

Lori Bumgarner
“Never try to do things exactly the way others tell you to do it or exactly the same way they did it. Promotion of your brand has to be done in a way that is true to you. Not every species of flower blooms at the same rate or under the same conditions!”
Image Consultant/owner of paNASH Style LLC
@panashstyle

10. Find Another Door

Laurence Muller
“When a door closes, never stand there like a dummy, find another door!”
Label Manager / Manager

What’s YOUR most valuable piece of advice? Share in the comment section below!

 

One of the most amazing things about music is that it is always evolving. You can alway push the boundaries of a genre or even mash two together to create something completely new. All the genres we have today are a result of this creative evolution and new genres will continue popping up as we move towards the future.

Especially today, it’s easy to feel like everything has been done. With so many creative people out there, developing a unique style can seem almost impossible. But isn’t that challenge one of the reasons we became musicians in the first place? If there wasn’t always some way to improve or grow, would we be as drawn to making music? Maybe you won’t invent a completely new genre, but by continuing to push yourself creatively you’re adding to the infographic below one song at a time.

Today, remember this infographic. We’ve come from classical and ragtime to grunge, post rock, and EDM. Just like the evolution of music, your creative journey as a musician has no final end where you know and have done everything. And that’s a good thing.

Here’s the static version of the infographic. Be sure to check out the interactive version here.

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Musicians are smart, creative, and innovative thinkers despite what popular culture would have you believe. Too often, when we think of musicians, images from Spinal Tap come to mind, but this is not usually the case. Being a musician requires a mix of extreme creativity and logic, collaboration, listening and multi-tasking skills, and complete dedication  – a mix that not many professions require.

Many entrepreneurs would do well to take up an instrument, as many of these skills are also required in business. Here’s a list of 11 leadership lessons to be learned from musicians:

1. Playing it safe gets you tossed off the stage. Some executives would say that in today’s turbulent economy, takings risks isn’t wise. If you don’t take risks you’ll never excel. Playing it safe all the time becomes the most dangerous move of all.

2. There are no do-overs in live performances. For every hour in a “performance” setting, you should spend five hours practicing. Athletes do this, musicians do this–muscle memory is no different in the board room, in front of a new client, or with your team. So why aren’t you doing this?

3. Listening to those around you is three times more important than what you play yourself. If you’re the one talking all the time, you’re not learning anything. Listen, absorb what you hear, and use the information to make a conscious choice about whatever you’re facing.

4. There’s a time to stand out as a soloist and a time to support others and make them shine. You rocked a project–nicely done. Praise is well-deserved. However, as a leader, it’s more likely the case that your team members rocked a project, together. Susie was on top of her game with the slide deck? Tell her–and tell the client. Johnny couldn’t have articulated the challenge to the press any more astutely? Refer back to his commentary as a stellar example. When you can share the wealth, everyone wins.

To see the full list, visit Inc.com.

Your band name is one of the most important assets you have. It’s how fans identify you, it represents you and your music, and for some bands, like the Rolling Stones or Black Flag, it can become an iconic symbol representing a genre, attitude, or era. With the market saturated with small amateur bands, the likelihood that another shares your same name is increasing.

This interview with James Trigg and Ashford Tucker, lawyers specializing in copyright and trademark law, explains the importance of a unique trademark, the steps necessary to secure ownership of a trademark, and domain names.

A trademark serves to identify the source of goods or services. When we see marks like COCA-COLA, MICROSOFT, BUDWEISER and BMW, we instantly associate them with the products sold in conjunction with them, and we rely on these names to assist us in distinguishing one product or service from another. Thus, generally, trademark law seeks to prevent consumer confusion by allowing trademark owners to control the use of their marks so that consumers can rely on a trademark as an indication of a product or service’s unique characteristics.

The law of trademarks applies to the fields of music, film, literature and art just as readily as it does to soda, software, beer and cars. Of course, most of us do not like to think of the arts as a “commodity,” something that merely is bought and sold. Similarly,artists themselves at times may be reluctant to view their names or their creations as commercial trademarks that identify them to the public in exactly the same way that BUDWEISER identifies Anheuser-Busch.   Nonetheless, by taking steps to protect their names, entertainers and artists can assume greater control of their identities and the way that those identities are perceived by the public.

To read the full interview, and learn more about trademark law and how it applies to your band and career, visit Digital Music News.

 

As a musician in the 21st century, you need to learn how to define your expectations. Otherwise, how will you know when you have achieved your goal, or even what to aim for? For a project, for a tour, for your career, and for your life – what are you trying to accomplish?

Most people in the music business want to “make it,” but what does that really mean? What is making it for you? What does the finish line look like? How would you recognize making it? Do you want a record deal? What does that record deal look like? Do you want to sell a million CDs? Do you want a publishing deal? What does that publishing deal look like? Do you want your music played on Grey’s Anatomy or your songbook published by Hal Leonard?

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bNKUE5

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bNKUE5

Once you know what your expectations are, then you can plan accordingly and know what to shoot for. Is success for you playing huge stadiums? That would mean you have to make a plan and probably dedicate yourself to work full-time for many years to get there.

Or, is success for you to have a steady gig on weekends? This is more achievable and something you can do on a local level and perhaps as a part-time endeavor. Is recording a CD and selling 10,000 copies your definition of success? If so, you can create a plan to achieve that perhaps on a regional level.

Or, is success for you writing songs that other people play? That would require you to network with other musicians and focus on writing, publishing, and placing your songs. Or, is success for you recording an EP and playing it for your family?

What do you want to be? What does success look like for you? Be as specific as possible when setting your expectations. Don’t be vague because it won’t lead you anywhere and just breeds sloppy thinking. First, define exactly what you want to do, and then you can break it down and make a plan to do it.

Last week host of Networking Musician Radio, David Vignola interviewed me about Music Power Network and the Future of Music.  Here is the audio interview along with a link to David’s site.  Great resource for indie artists.

Music Power Network provides a wide variety of music business education, tools, interviews and lots of resources for the D.I.Y. musician. The site also offers an equal wealth of information / education for producers, managers or publishers.

http://www.podbean.com/podcast-audio-video-blog-player/mp3playerlightsmallv3.swf?audioPath=http://networkingmusician.podbean.com/mf/play/nsumyj/MusicPowerNetwork.mp3&autoStart=no

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”  This is a great quote from Alan Kay, one of the creative geniuses behind the laptop computer and the mouse.  Musician can apply this thinking to their own careers by planning for success in a dedicated and systematic way.

I came across this great guest post by Kevin English on Creative Deconstruction that talks about the “Lower Class Musician” and suggestions for how to lift yourself out of that class into a middle or upper class status through controlling your overhead, aligning your expectations, creating a plan, getting a good and current education and diversifying your product offering.  These are all things that I have blogged about in great detail in the past and agree with completely.

Here in an excerpt from Kevin’s post:

“Learn to structure yourself like any other startup and formulate a strategy on paper that will sustain you for three to five years. You’ll soon find out that overspending on manufacturing, marketing, promotion and distribution is very difficult to recoup.

Adjust Your Expectations

For some of us, music is a hobby and that is okay. However, if you plan on feeding your children by touring the Chitlin’ circuit, that’s another thing entirely. When I realized that writing songs for Columbia Records and recording demos with The Fugees wasn’t going to sustain me forever, I had to adjust my expectations. These gigs were few and far in between and often times didn’t pay half as much as you would expect them to.

I studied profitable ideas, people, and businesses to find a common denominator. I learned that nine out of ten successful startups had a business plan. Not just any old plan, but one that was standard across all industries. Financial planning, marketing, and the management of people and products/services cannot be done on the fly. If all you want is for people to hear your music that is fine. But again, you can’t necessarily expect to make a decent living.

Accelerate Your Learning

Hundreds of books have been written on the subject of business plans, yet no one in the music business seems to think they need one — until, of course, they run out of cash. I spent years in my local SBA in Newark, NJ looking at sample plans, meeting with retired CEOs of successful companies, and learning how basic businesses operate.

If you do the same you’ll realize that most startups have more similarities than you’d expect. However, it is important to point out that no two plans are alike. You will still need to write a plan specifically based around your music-related products and services. My first plan was a disaster. I asked my uncle for $75K with a promise to return 20% of the loan over the next five years. He had a good laugh over that one, but at least he knew I was serious about my dreams.”

To read his full post look here.

The music industry is being reinvented before our very eyes. Learn how it is developing from today’s entrepreneurs including Ian Rogers from TopSpin, Steve Schnur from EA, and Derek Sivers and how you can capitalize on the changing opportunities.

MPN is my latest project and an online service for music business people and music and artist managers creating the future of the industry. MPN provides online music business lessons, exclusive video interviews and advice, career and business planning tools and thousands of specially selected resources designed to help you achieve success in this ever changing industry. MPN gives you the tools, expertise and guidance to help you get organized and take your music career to the next level. Learn from industry experts, set your goals and realize your vision.