In today’s music industry, success isn’t just handed to you. Increasingly, the musician must view their career in the same way an entrepreneur views their startup company. You need to know what you want, how dedicated you are, and then make a plan not unlike a traditional business plan that will lead you to YOUR success.
With so many options in today’s music industry, success can mean different things to different people. Some people will be happy gigging their home town a few days a week and keep their day job. Others won’t be happy until they are playing stadiums in front of thousands of screaming fans. Some musicians may be happy living in the background composing music for films, while other’s want their single featured on the top 100 chart. Knowing what you want is the key first step in planning how to get there.
Shaun Letang wrote this great article for Music Think Tank that really sums up what you should be doing right now to plan your career. Here’s an excerpt of the article, but you can read the full article on Music Think Tank.
Define What Success In The Music Industry Is To You
Before anything else, you need to decide what your personal definition of success is. The reason for this is simple; if your idea of success is becoming well known in your country for being a talented musicians, you’ll need different steps to achieving that than you would if your aim was to earn a full time living from music.
So what is your final end game? What do you want to achieve? If you’re not yet sure, here are some common outcomes which a lot of musicians aim for. I’ve also included a (extremely generally) look at what’s needed to reach these goals:
- Aim to play good music you and your friends will enjoy.
- Aim to become well known at a local level. (Requires a lot of work).
- Aim to become well known at a national scale. (Requires a lot of work and luck).
- Aim to become well known at a international scale. (Requires a lot of work and a lot of luck).
- Aim to earn a part time living from music. (Requires a lot of work).
- Aim to earn a full time living from music (Requires a lot of work).
- Aim to become wealthy from music (Requires a lot of work and a lot of luck).
Feel free to mix and match your goals as you need. For example, it may be your aim to be well known in your local area and earn a full time living from your music. This is an achievable goal if you know what you’re doing.
While it’s easy to assume that most people would want to become internationally well known and wealthy from their music, that’s not always the case. As someone who regularly talks to musicians all around the world, I’ve seen that different people want to achieve different things, and everyone has their reasons for their end goal. So no matter what your end goal is, be sure it’s clear in your mind and we can move forward.
Determine What You’re Willing To Do To Succeed In The Music Industry
This is where the whole ‘on your terms’ bit fits in.
So now you know what you want to achieve from your music career, the next steps is deciding what you’re willing to do to achieve these goals. No, I’m not talking about who you’ll sleep with to get to the top (I do not recommend this). Instead, you need to decide if you want to achieve your goals strictly through your personal brand as a musician, or if you’re willing to use your musical skill in other ways to pad out your income and get you better known.
Let’s say the goals in your music career are mainly driven by money. Making a part time living is something I feel most musicians with talent and good marketing knowledge can achieve. That said, only a % of those people will go on to make a full time comfortable living from their music alone. It is achievable, but it’s a lot harder than if you were to also use the talents you’ve acquired from the music industry for other forms of earning.
For example, if you were to start teaching up and coming musicians how to sing, rap or produce, you could earn more than you would from just playing gigs and selling songs alone. Teaching wouldn’t get in the way of you playing gigs; gigs are generally performed later at night, while your teaching lessons would likely be in the day. Furthermore, if you was to teach via a online video course for example, after you’ve created your product you wouldn’t have to actively be there to teach each new person that came along.
There are plenty of income streams you could tap in which are music related, but which don’t involve your personal brand as a musician. Other examples include songwriting for others, doing backing vocals for other musicians, doing skits for people in need of them (isn’t restricted to other musicians) and the like. Think about who you can help with the talents you have, and provide a service to them.
To read the full article, go to Music Think Tank.