5 Music Business Lessons To Learn From Professional Musicians To Build Your Music Career Faster

by Tom Hess
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Ever wanted to know what successful music business pros do to build thriving careers in the music industry?

While no two musicians travel the exact same paths in the music business to reach their goals

... they all proceed from the exact same foundational principles that enable them to become successful in the music industry.

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Which means something great for you as you attempt to build your career as a professional musician:

If you simply learn the music career lessons successful professional musicians leave in their wake...  

(aka: the principles for a successful career in the music business)

... you can simply repeat them and build the career in the music industry you've always dreamed about since you were a kid.  

(Proving all your doubters and haters wrong, while you're at it.)

Here are 5 key things that all successful music business pros have in common and the lessons you can learn from each one to become a professional musician much faster:

5 music business lessons

Professional Musician Secret #1: Invest Time Into MORE Than Just Your Musical Skills

Most musicians spend the majority of their time developing their musical skills, but put very little effort into the other elements needed to make it in the music business.

They do this because:

  1. They think that the better their musical skills are, the higher their chances for success become in the music industry.

    While this is true up to a point, your musical skills are FAR from the only thing you need to become a successful music business pro.

    If you don’t allocate enough time to developing all pieces of the music career success puzzle, your musical skills will never be enough to help you grow your career in the music industry.

  2. Most musicians have no idea what things record companies look for and need from them (more on this below).

All musicians who now enjoy a full-time living as professionals in the music industry, have understood the importance of developing ALL the elements of music business success.

While they continued to practice and develop their musical skills, they also took action to obtain the other pieces of music industry value. 

And you must do the same if you want to make it in the music business.

To learn if you are currently on track with your music career building efforts, test yourself by taking this music career success assessment.

If you already developed your musical skills to an intermediate or advanced level, you should start investing at least half of your practice time into growing your music career in the music industry. 

To make sure that your time is not being wasted, seek out the best music career mentoring for yourself, just like you should be studying with a music teacher to build your musical skills faster.

Professional Musician Secret #2: Have A Win-Win Mindset

Anyone who is a successful professional musician has a very different mindset about everything they do in the music industry. 

The professional musician understands that the music industry is a business that depends on building mutually beneficial music business relationships with other music industry companies. 

Learning to do this is the fastest way to build and sustain a prosperous and long-lasting career in the music business. So how do you acquire this music industry skill?

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Here is what every successful professional musician does:

  • They learn to provide immense value to people, bands and companies within the music business using win-win outcomes.

    This value is the ability to help the companies in the music business to solve their problems and reach their goals in ways that simultaneously enable you to reach YOUR music industry goals.

  • They learn to minimize inherent risk that working with them poses to the music industry.

Once you develop a strong win-win music industry mindset in yourself, and learn to apply this mindset to everything you do in the music business, you will begin to make huge progress in your music career.

Imagine this scenario (with lots of music career lessons embedded in it):

You and another musician are hired to play in the same band. You and the other musician are equally skilled.

All you have to do is play the songs. You don’t have to help the band leader. Or the management. Or the record company.

Or the booking agency or the promoter. You and the other musician both do a good job of playing the songs. Only you don’t stop there...

You also freely offer your resources, time, expertise, skills and connections to everyone in your band’s organization.

The result?

The band and everyone around your band makes more money and becomes more successful because of your help.

Now the big day comes.

Time to renegotiate your contract, decide who deserves more pay or who will be involved with the next (bigger) opportunity.

Take a wild guess: Who has the better shot of going to the next level? You? Or the other musician?

That is a simple illustration of the dirt-simple formula to making it in the music industry:

Add the most value with the least amount of risk, and you’ll have as much success as your heart desires.

Super obvious, I know.

But why aren’t more musicians doing it?

Adding extra value IS hard when you don’t have any expertise, skills, resources or connections to offer. Your value is limited to playing your instrument.

And adding value is impossible when you:

- have an entitlement mentality (and think you shouldn’t do anything beyond what you are paid for).

- are not ambitious and have no desire to grow your career.

But if you are motivated, coachable and have a solid work ethic, getting the skills and the know-how isn’t any harder than learning to play your instrument.

Learn more about how to develop this music business quality within yourself by reading this article about building a music career.

Professional Musician Secret #3: Stop Letting Irrational Fears Stand In Your Way

Any successful professional musician focuses on what he wants to achieve by taking proactive steps towards making his music industry goals a reality.

People who worry about things they are afraid of don't get far in the music business.

They focus on “avoiding failure” rather than on “achieving success”.

Examples of this include: 

  • believing you are too young or too old to pursue a music career,

  • wishing you lived in a bigger city,

  • or wishing that you had better connections in the music industry.

  • All these fears cripple your ability to reach your music career goals.

The success-based professional musician mindset empowers you to take action, to learn what you need to learn, to acquire the skills you need to develop and to get the music career success training you need to reach your goals… 

... while the fear-based paradigm paralyzes you into immobility and ultimately leads to failure in the music business.

Professional Musician Secret #4: Know What Record Companies Are Looking For In You

Most people don’t think about what the “other side” (record companies, bands, musicians and executives) want from THEM when they get into the music business. Instead, they only think about what THEY (the musicians) want from these people and/or music business companies. 

This overblown sense of entitlement is a mentality that spells instant death to your music career and makes it impossible to become a professional musician.

Any successful professional musician has invested time into learning what the music industry looks for AND developed the skills needed to make themselves valuable to anyone they ever work with in the music business. 

As a result, they are able to sign the best record deals, sell the most records and make the most money working in the music business.

Once YOU do these same things, you will be able to achieve the same level of success in the music industry.

Professional Musician Secret #5: Reverse Engineer Your Music Career

An average aspiring professional musician thinks he should set goals based on where he currently is, then work towards where he wants to end up.

Instead, the successful professional musician reverse engineers his music career. 

This means start by imagining yourself having already reached your music career goals, then discovering the final step that would be needed to reach that music business goal.

After discovering this, focus on identifying the step just before the final step on your music business path…  and continue working backwards to where you are now.

By planning your music career path in this way, you are able to live INTO the vision of your music business goals.

What About You?

Now that you know the common elements that all successful musicians have in common in the music business, it’s time to see how close YOU are to making it in the music business. 

Take this free music career assessment to see if you if you are on track to building a thriving music career for yourself.

After you test yourself, I will reply to you with my feedback and comments on how to make your music business efforts more successful.

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Tom Hess
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He trains musicians how to leave their day jobs and build successful full-time careers in the music industry.

Start accelerating your music career by working with me in my music careers mentoring program.

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