Why Only Few People Become Successful Professional Musicians And How You Can Join Them
by Tom Hess
What makes some musicians extremely successful with a long term music industry career, while so many others struggle to make ends meet and end up working non-music related day jobs? In my previous music career articles, I explained that a huge part of the answer lies in the ability of successful music business professionals to offer “maximum value with minimum risk” to every company, band, person or organization they come into contact with (if you haven't read my previous articles and aren’t familiar with this concept, take this short music career test to learn more before reading the rest of this article). Obviously there is a LOT that goes into this seemingly simple concept, but ultimately all things you do must tie into this idea in one way or another if you want to be a professional musician. However, as you may have already guessed, there is a big difference between ‘knowing’ a simple idea and actually ‘making it a reality’ in your music career.
As a music career mentor, I spend a great deal of time training musicians how to build maximum value with minimum risk in everything they do in their music industry careers. I have observed that most people can easily understand the need to minimize their risk in obvious, common sense ways. However, most musicians have a hard time seeing how their positive skillsets and elements of music career value ALSO bring with them some unexpected elements of risk. Not understanding this fact is a crippling flaw in the music career plans of most people, preventing even those with very high potential from succeeding as professional musicians.
If you want to be one of the few musicians who DO become successful versus ending up among the majority who fail, it is critical to learn how to minimize the hidden risks/weaknesses that exist ‘beneath the surface’ of your strengths as a professional musician. In this article, I will show you how to dramatically boost your chances of having a thriving music career by getting a much clearer picture of your inner profile of values and risks.
The Inner Profile Of A Professional Musician
As musicians (and as people), we spend a lot of time developing a variety of skills and areas of expertise that we hope will help us in our chosen field (of having a music career). However, if you are like most musicians (who have never received specific music business training), then all the skills you have achieved were developed largely ‘at random’ (without clear planning and understanding of how they fit into the big picture of your long term goals). Because of this, every skill or strength you possess (both as a musician on your instrument and in your experience of working in the music industry) contains an ‘opposing’ weakness that can be perceived (by others) as an element of ‘risk’. This can often overshadow your strengths if left unchecked. I have seen this happen to musicians VERY frequently (regardless of their work ethic or motivation)… and the worst part is, they are often totally unaware of it.
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To speed up the process of growing your music career, you MUST know how to maximize the strengths you already possess while recognizing (and eliminating) the opposing risks that they bring to your music career plan. This is done by ALL successful professional musicians (whether they consciously realize this or not), while everybody else struggles to understand ‘what they are doing wrong’ in their pursuit of a music industry career. Fortunately, this analysis is possible for anybody to do, and I'm going to show you how to begin this process in the rest of this article.
To help you do the above analysis for yourself, look at the table below to see several seemingly positive skills/strengths that many musicians have (listed in the left column of the table). In the right column of the table is an explanation of how that same strength can very often be a risk factor in your music career efforts. When I train musicians to start a career in music, these are some of the common problems I help them to correct after they come to me frustrated with getting nowhere in the industry despite having achieved many impressive credentials. There are actually DOZENS of examples I could write here, but to avoid making this article too long, I will limit my list to the items you see below.
It's important to recognize that the strengths listed in the left column of the table below ARE of course ‘good’ things to have and in most cases they DO help you in some way to grow your music career. However, it is critical to recognize how each of these items can ALSO become your weakness UNLESS you find out how to stop this from happening.
Now that you have seen how any of your music career strengths often can also conceal a significant element of risk, here are several important steps you need to take now to get on the right track towards your goals of being a professional musician:
1. Realize and remember that not all of your ‘assets’ (skillsets and elements of value for your music career) are ‘good’ when seen in the perspective of YOUR specific goals and music career situation. Some things that can appear to be positive on the surface may actually hurt you, often without you realizing it (as described in the table above).
2. Get a more specific picture of your current arsenal of strengths and weaknesses for pursuing a professional musician career by taking this music career test.
3. Put together a music career blueprint listing the specific elements of value that you must develop for your music career AND outline the steps you must take to minimize their opposing weaknesses and risks. If you are unsure of how to do this on your own, find someone who can coach and mentor you through this process. In addition to helping you understand what elements of value are most applicable to your specific music career, an experienced music career trainer can help you discover completely new and innovative ways of growing your value to the music industry that you have never realized before.
4. Recognize that putting together all pieces of the puzzle into place for your music industry career requires a clear vision of your goals and lots of effective training. The reality is that most musicians do not have the patience to plan their music career actions in this way and instead rely mostly on intuition to guide them. Although listening to your instincts is valuable, guesswork is unlikely to ‘consistently’ give you the results you want in your music career. If this sounds like you, you will benefit greatly from working with someone who can show you the most effective way to achieve results in the music industry.
Finally, remember that as you go through the process of acquiring skills and ‘doing things’ to grow your career, your actions will continue to bring limited results until you go through the self-evaluation process described in this article. Once you learn how to maximize your existing potential, your progress towards becoming a highly successful professional musician will become much faster than ever before.
If you haven’t yet taken the music career test mentioned in this article, I encourage you to do so now.
Learn about succeeding with a career in the music business.
© 2002-2018 Tom Hess Music Corporation