How To Become A Successful Musician: A Tom Hess Music Career Review Of Common Music Industry Advice

(This article is an excerpt from a Tom Hess music career review interview. The interview was conducted and transformed into an article by Ryan Buckner.)


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Do you ever receive music career advice from friends and family about the way successful musicians learned how the music industry works?

If you are like most not-yet successful musicians, you get a lot of advice about the music business from a variety of well-meaning people in your life. In many cases, these people have genuinely good intentions for helping you make it in the music industry.

However, the truth is that unless they are successful musicians, they are not truly qualified to give you music career advice. If you follow the advice of these people, you will be much less likely to succeed in the music business.

With this in mind, I wanted to get the perspective of someone who IS a successful musician in the music industry and hear his thoughts on the most common music career advice.

For this reason, I created a Tom Hess music career review article...

...I caught up with professional musician and guitarist Tom Hess (Rhapsody Of Fire) and got the personal 'Tom Hess music career review’ for 3 of the biggest music career advice topics that come up from people who are not successful musicians. After talking with him, it was clear that most of the advice given out by non-professionals is highly misguided at best.

Here is the full Tom Hess music career review of common advice:

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Industry Looks For In You?
What Does The Music Industry Look For In You Assessment
2-Minute Music Industry Quiz
2-Minute Music Industry Quiz
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Tom Hess Music Career Review Topic 1:

Ryan Buckner: Before pursuing music, you have to go to university to get a degree in business or some other field. Only then should you attempt to pursue a career in the music industry…” What is the expert Tom Hess music career review here?

Tom Hess: This music career advice is frequently made based on the assumption that successful musicians are rare and working in music is “too risky”.

Most likely if you have heard this music career advice, you have also heard about “starving artists” who barely make enough money with music to survive. These thoughts lead friends or family to tell you that you must first go to university so you can get a stable and secure job. Then (they say), once you have worked 4-5 years to earn a degree in a field that is totally unrelated to music, you can maybe consider doing music on the side.

I have two main points to say about this music career advice:

1. The music industry is NOT highly unstable and risky.

The truth is, most people who work in the music industry are not either successful musicians or “starving artists” who struggle to earn enough money just to get by.

Additionally, it is not true that the only people who are making it in the music industry are rock stars who earn millions and tour the world. In reality, the music industry consists of a HUGE middle class full of successful musicians who make a secure and comfortable living. In fact, it is much easier to make a good living in music than you think.

Successful musicians create multiple sources of income through things such as selling your music, touring, instructional products, session recordings, and other music related tasks. This makes earning a living much more stable than if you were only to receive a single paycheck at the end of your pay period (like in jobs outside of the music industry).

2. Working in a job outside of music will only take you further away from your dreams.

Have you ever stopped to think about what is really going on when people tell you the music career advice of: “don’t pursue a career in the music industry - it’s too risky”?

Although these people may have good intentions with their music career advice, in the end they are not really trying to help you.

This may sound harsh, but the truth is that these people are giving you advice based on their own fears and ignorance. On top of that, they are not truly paying attention to YOU and your music industry aspirations.

So, it is actually true to say music career advice when you acknowledge that:

a) You want to become one of the successful musicians who make it, and

b) Successful musicians make a living in a way that is both highly stable and profitable.

With this in mind, there really is NO good reason to abandon your dreams to follow pessimisstic music career advice. Remember, the path you choose to take in life is up to you, don’t live your life based on the desires of other people!

Tom Hess music career review bottom line:

There is nothing wrong with developing a backup plan in your music career, as long as your plan is centered around (and is not a distraction from) your highest goals (just like successful musicians do). By focusing all your plans around your most important long term music goals, you will drastically increase the chances that you will reach them.

Tom Hess Music Career Review Topic 2:

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Ryan: To be able to make a good living in the music industry, you must write popular music that is used on major radio, internet and television stations...” What is your opinion about this music career advice?

Tom: It is not true to say that getting your music played on major stations or writing ‘popular’ music is “how to make money in music.”

This should be a big take-away from this "Tom Hess music career review":

Although writing a song that makes it onto the charts is certainly a great goal to have, it is important not to confuse your ‘goals’ with your ‘actions’. Getting your music played on a major radio station is a goal that is reached by taking a specific set of actions. However, ‘making money’ from this result is an entirely different music career goal, and in order to reach it you need to take another set of steps.

Tom Hess music career review bottom line:

There are many avenues successful musicians take for making a lot of money with music (and being a songwriter is only one of them). Ultimately, to have the most security in your music career it is important to develop more than one source of income so that your livelihood is never dependent on any single activity. The best way to develop these things in your music career is to seek out the advice of a music industry mentor who understands what it takes to achieve great things in the music business.

Tom Hess Music Career Review Topic 3:

Ryan: “Making it in the music industry is all about being in the right place at the right time...” What is the official Tom Hess music career review of this advice?

Tom: People who give the music career advice that you must be in the “right place at the right time” usually also support one or more of the following beliefs:

1. Successful musicians are very lucky.

People rely on ‘luck’ as their guide after they get the music career advice to wait to 'get lucky' - They often have high goals or expectations, but end up frustrated because they simply expect things to fall into their lap.

Simply put, this is not how the music business (or the world) works. If you want to become one the most successful musicians & excel in the music industry, you must consistently take action to reach your goals.

Successful musicians who do this do not expect to get lucky; they CREATE their own ‘luck!’

2. To make yourself one of the most successful musicians or just get signed with a music company, all you have to do is meet someone who works in the music business.

It’s likely that you have heard music career advice stories about successful musicians after they randomly met a big time record producer at a night club. As the story goes, the producer likes a musician’s music so much, that he signs him right there on the spot, right?

Although this makes for a good story and may have happened in very rare cases to successful musicians in the past, the reality is that the music industry simply doesn’t work this way.

Successful musicians who work in the music industry treat music just like you would treat any other business. This means they are only interested in working with (meaning “investing upfront money and resources into”) musicians when they absolutely know that they will be making a LOT of money in the process with minimum risk.

Tom Hess music career review bottom line:

The fact is, people in the music industry already ‘know’ thousands of musicians. In order to truly advance your career with these music industry officials, you will need to focus on developing long term WIN-WIN relationships with them.

To do this, you must follow music career advice that encourages you to continually work to make yourself a “total package” by enhancing your skills and knowledge in all aspects that the music industry finds valuable, including musical, personal and business skills.

Ryan: Thanks for taking the time to share your insights on these topics to put them to rest in the official Tom Hess music career review for aspiring successful musicians out there. I've found ot to be very enlightening, and I’m sure others will too. To those reading - this Tom Hess music career review of common advice gives you a better understanding of how important it is to be careful about taking advice. To get music career advice used to help people become successful musicians, watch the video on the Tom Hess music career mentoring page.

Tom: You are very welcome.



Tom Hess music career review of common industry advice - Now that you know what not to do, learn how to become a professional musician and with expert music career advice.

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