Two Well-Worn Approaches to Music Career Failure
How you go about spending your time and energy building your career is the determining factor in whether you achieve stardom/notoriety/financial success in music. Here are two extreme (but common) approaches I’ve seen newbies take, that by and large will not lead to long-term success.
All your eggs in one basket.
With this approach, you bet everything you have on success as an artist or producer being the way you have defined it in your head. Whether you envision yourself as a YouTube sensation, pop star or film composer, it is a typical mindset for somebody that is new to the industry and wanting to follow exactly in the footsteps of their musical idol.
Being single-minded and driven is important, but not if it means closing yourself off from other opportunities and doors that may swing open along the way that you hadn’t even considered. Knowing what your creative strengths are is important, and having an artistic vision for yourself is also key. But understand that the sands are constantly shifting now, and that many pathways may lead to the same (or similar) result. Be nimble. Keep your mind open, and be flexible as to what the industry GIVES you.
One egg in every basket.
With royalty rates down and physical sales being… well… what they are, it isn’t just one thing anymore that determines success (ie: you get a record deal, land a publishing contract, have a radio hit, score a song placement on a big-budget movie). So you may be tempted to try to hedge your bets by dabbling in every online or offline avenue to getting your music out there, and think that getting more
Step back and think for a minute about what the “dabbling” approach looks like in your daily life. If you decided to become a better cook, learn the violin, take up cycling, write poetry, learn to surf, train for a marathon and learn Spanish all at once, how successful will you be at any one of those endeavours? Be honest with yourself.
When to your knowledge has multi-tasking to that extent produced the kind of outcome that is truly exceptional? If you’ve ever said to a Music Supervisor when asked to describe your genre specialty, “I do a little bit of everything”, you’re guilty of this.
In such a crowded and competitive environment, there is just no way to rise above the background noise as an unknown artist when you don’t have something unique and memorable to offer. Don’t waste time doing a little of this and a little of that. Remember the adage, “jack of all trades, master of none”. Very, very few have ever been a talented producer, skilled engineer, amazing instrumentalist, and brilliant songwriter all at the same time.
Better off being a specialist in a few musical genres or skill sets than a generalist in all.
Stick to Universal Success Principles
Thankfully, through all that noise, certain success principles still apply that the vast majority of artists and creative talent (maybe without knowing) have applied. Interestingly, these principles aren’t unique to music. They’re applicable to nearly all types of businesses. After all, it’s the music BUSINESS, not the “music recreation”.
As an engineer, then a producer, then a recording artist, then a Creative Director, and finally a music software platform owner, I’ve seen a lot of talented artists and musicians on the way up (and down) their own personal versions of the success ladder. Each have had their own paths to success that couldn’t be replicated by anybody else.
Check out this post to learn four simple ways artists and composers can make serious money in music.
This article was provided by Eliot Pister of Greengate Media (the makers of Magnetracks) in Vancouver, Canada.