5 Key Elements To Building A Long-Lasting & Highly Successful Music Career
by Tom Hess
Before you take another step to start (or grow) your music career, you must learn the 5 key elements that will make up the foundation of your success as a professional musician. It doesn't matter which area of the music industry you are involved in - once you acquire all 5 of these keys, sky will be the limit for your music career.
On the other hand, until and unless you have all 5 of these elements (together), it won't matter what other things you know or do - your music career potential will be severely limited.
Here are the 5 keys to success in your music career:
Music Career Success Key #1 - Don’t Set Goals That Set You Up For Failure
Musicians who achieve significant success in their careers are not scared of being ambitious and set for themselves the goals that they REALLY want to reach, vs. the goals they think they can achieve. Setting ambitious goals (the ones you will feel totally inspired by) will motivate you to actually do whatever it takes to achieve them (more on this below).
Think about it – which of the following would inspire you to drop everything in order to focus on building your music career:
Recording some cool music with a band and maybe playing in some of the local bars around town.
- Writing and recording a killer album that goes to the top of the charts in many different countries, touring the world - playing to stadiums full of die-hard fans and becoming financially successful in music, without needing a non-music related job?
Although your goals in the music industry may be completely unrelated to recording/performing music, the point is this: don’t settle for less than you truly want in your music career in attempt to be realistic. Life is too short to hold yourself back by setting small and insignificant goals. Setting uninspiring goals and lacking ambition will only do one thing: ensure that you NEVER reach what you truly want in your music career.
All of your favorite musicians are regular people - just like you. They began their careers in a situation similar to the one you are in – whether it was not having a band, not having musical skills at the level they wanted or lacking knowledge about how the music business worked (or countless other scenarios). Think of what would happen if they decided that it was unrealistic for them to achieve great things like selling millions of records, touring the world and building a massive fan base. Fortunately for the music industry, these musicians chose to think big and act big.
Follow in their footsteps - take the first step to building a successful music career and set BIG goals that truly inspire you!
Music Career Success Key #2 - Live Into Your Music Career Goals…As If They Are Already Achieved
Musicians who aren’t successful, make a huge mistake when planning the process of reaching their career goals: they design all the steps starting from where they are moving towards their goal(s).
Musicians who are hugely successful, do NOT do this. Instead, they design their music career plan starting from where they WANT to end up and work backwards to where they are NOW. In other words, they start by imagining themselves already having reached all their goals, and then structure their lives to live into that vision. This makes it much easier to accurately determine what steps should be done to build your career. Learn more about how to go through these steps in this article about reaching your musical goals.
You can take all the guesswork out of the process of building your success plan by working with a music industry mentor who will tell you exactly what needs to be done to build your music career.
Music Career Success Key #3 - Decide If You Will Live Or Die
The first 2 keys (above) are the foundation for reaching the music career success you seek. HOWEVER, simply having ambitious goals and a plan is NOT enough to bring your musical dreams into reality. You must TAKE ACTION every day to move closer to your goals. This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many musicians lack the mental intensity needed to apply this success key in their music careers.
Consider the following visualization (which I often offer to musicians I mentor to inspire them): You have a life-threatening illness that requires major surgery in order for you to survive. If you don’t get the surgery you need, you WILL die. In order for you to pay for the surgery, you have to earn a MASSIVE amount of money (for example: $500,000) and there is no possibility to borrow the money or to have medical insurance. Now you have a choice: will you do whatever it takes to earn this money and save yourself, or will you give up and let yourself DIE?
Of course, the above is an extreme example, but it illustrates perfectly the type of action-oriented mindset that is required to achieve big results in the music industry. There is a huge difference between ‘doing things’ (half-heartedly) in the music business and taking MASSIVE action (such as earning $500,000 for an operation that will determine if you live or die).
Note: of course, no amount of work ethic or drive is going to cover up not knowing HOW to break into the music industry and become successful. This is why you must also be getting music career training on an ongoing basis, so that your massive action takes you in the direction of your goals.
Music Career Success Key #4 - Have Your Goals Pass The "Why" Test
No matter how good your music career strategy (and plans) are, things will often not go as planned. When this occurs, you will find your commitment to your music career goals tested by unexpected obstacles, such as:
- Realizing that you have poor recording skills that are preventing you from recording your album in a timely fashion
- Having to work 40 hours per week at a job you hate and feeling clueless about how to phase out your non-musical day job and make a good living from music
- Not knowing how to get your band booked to bigger venues, so you can play better paying gigs
- Feeling stuck with unmotivated band members who are holding the entire band back from reaching the next level
- Having no idea about how to get more fans and build a strong following for your music
Here is how to develop the perseverance needed for success in your music career:
Beside each of your written goals (that you identified in key #1 above), write down your main REASONS for pursuing them. For each music career goal you have, answer the following: “Why do I want this?” Think hard about this question before you write down your answers, and look over your goals (and reasons for wanting them) twice per day.
By doing the above, you’ll learn to keep yourself motivated and keep your eyes on something even bigger than the goals themselves - your REASONS for wanting to achieve them. This will give you the power to keep moving forward and succeed, no matter what obstacles you run into in your music career.
For a more detailed explanation of this process, read this article about determining your musical goals.
Music Career Success Key #5 - Don’t Navigate The Music Industry Blindfolded
Even when you possess all 4 of the above mentioned keys, your music career can still get off track. This happens when you aren’t sure what to do to become successful, are unknowingly acting against your own best interest or have ineffective strategies for reaching your goals. The final key to your music career foundation is to work with an experienced mentor who has already helped many people become professional musicians.
A true mentor does so much more than merely tell you what to do or give you information. An expert mentor helps you take advantage of the strengths you’ve acquired by gathering the first 4 keys and makes sure that you are moving in the direction of your goals at all times, while avoiding the obstacles that many musicians run into. Without this guidance, you are navigating the music industry blindfolded - unable to take advantage of your knowledge, skills and work ethic.
Now that you understand the 5 keys that make up the foundation of your music career success, here are the steps you should take right now:
1. Begin acquiring the keys that you don't currently have, following the resources and advice given throughout this article.
2. Work with a music career mentor to start building a highly successful music career right now.
Build a highly successful career in the music industry by working with your own music career mentor.
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