6 Music Industry Myths That Hurt Your Music Career
By Tom Hess
Want to build your music career faster? Stop believing these music industry myths:
Music Career Myth #1: Music fans don’t buy music anymore.
Reality: True fans DO buy music, but the outdated business model of selling music no longer works. To sell music to your fans (and make good money), focus on:
- Understanding how the music business works today (vs. how it worked 20 years ago).
- Thinking innovatively like an entrepreneur. Treat your music career like a business, where your goods and services are your music and talents and your fans are the customers. This helps you discover new ways to sell music (and other merchandise) to your fans.
Learn how to get your fans to buy your music.
Note: some people will always find ways to get your music illegally without buying it. But these people are NOT your fans - they are thieves. These people do not support your music career in any way. Ignore them and focus on your true fans. True fans are loyal to you (or your band). They are willing to support your career if you create enough value for them.
Tip: you make a lot more money in your music career by changing your focus from selling music to adding value to your fans. The former gives you 1 stream of musical income. The latter helps you create unlimited new ways to earn money in your music career. (More on this below).
Music Career Myth #2: You must be young to make it in the music industry.
Reality: Your age matters very little to bands and companies in the music business. There are thousands of professional musicians in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.
The music business is like any other business. When you have value to offer and possess drive, determination and work ethic, you can become successful at any age.
Learn what music companies really look for in musicians and develop these skills (more on this below). This makes you highly attractive to everyone in the music industry.
Music Career Myth #3: You must become a great musician first, before working on your music career.
Reality: Becoming a professional musician takes A LOT more than “good musical skills”. Many music industry pros are not virtuoso musicians ….and many great musicians never become pros.
This video shows 22 things the music industry looks for in you:
Lesson for you: keep working on your musical skills while you develop the other elements of music career success.
Question: “Tom Hess, what should my musical skill level be to begin building my music career?”
Answer: Start working on your career when your musical skills are at an intermediate level or higher. Invest about 1/2 of all your music-related time on studying the music industry, planning your career path and getting training on how to become successful. Spend the rest of the time continuing to develop your musical skills.
Hint: taking music lessons on your instrument helps you keep making fast progress in less time.
Note: You do not need a music degree to become a professional musician. Going to music school helps you improve your musical skills. It does not help you build a career in the music industry. Thousands of people graduate from top music schools every year and struggle to earn money with their talents.
There are also far more effective ways to become a great musician than going to a music school. Working directly with an expert music teacher helps you master your instrument a lot faster (for a fraction of the cost).
Question: “But Tom Hess, what about music business degrees? Won’t a degree in the music business help my music career?”
Answer: Usually no. Music industry professors are not successful professionals in the music business. They are educators. Their job is to teach you about the music business… not how to build YOUR successful career in music. Example: in music business classes you learn how record contracts work, how tours are promoted and how publishing deals work. Learning this theory is nice, but it does not help you to:
- Actually get a record contract offered to you.
- Get on a tour (and make it profitable).
- Get publishing deals.
- Get into the band you want to join.
- Earn big money with your music.
- Sustain a successful music career over the long term.
You achieve these results through ongoing music career mentoring from a real pro. (Someone who actually achieved success in the music business.)
Music Career Myth #4: You must move to a big city with a huge music scene to become successful.
Reality: The city you live in does NOT determine your music career success. You do.
You can create opportunities to work with companies and musicians who live far away from you. Learn the principles that make music career success possible and apply them. This helps you become successful no matter where you live.
Note: Sometimes moving to a bigger city could be the right decision for growing one’s music career. But moving to a big city is NOT a shortcut to a successful music career. It’s also not the first thing you should do when getting into the music industry. Your music career starts with becoming the right person that record companies, bands and other musicians want to work with. Success is impossible without this foundation.
Music Career Myth #5: You must have many connections within the music industry to become successful.
Reality: Connections rarely lead to music career opportunities. If I introduced you to the CEO of any record company of your choice, what would this do for your music career? Probably nothing… unless:
- You have significant value to offer far above and beyond other musicians.
- You have a reputation throughout the music industry for being trustworthy, loyal, hard working and possessing a business mindset. Record company executives WILL check your reputation in the music industry before deciding to work with you.
This article explains the truth about connections in the music industry.
Music Career Myth #6. Social Media Websites Are The Key To Online Music Promotion.
Reality: Social media websites are important, but they are only one part of music promotion. Driving traffic to your own website is much more important. There are several reasons why:
Reason #1. You don’t really control your social media accounts. Your account can be shut down at any moment (and for any reason). Yes, this has happened to some musicians in the past and it can be devastating to your career.
Your own website is the only platform you control 100%.
Reason #2. You have less control over the list of your social media followers. It’s harder to consistently reach all your fans whenever you want to attract their attention. More importantly, you can lose all your followers if anything happens to your social media channel. Think about that…
A large mailing list of fans built through your own website is always within your control.
Reason #3. Your self-promotion is limited.
Each social media platform has restrictions on how you can promote yourself. Your website has no such limitations. This helps you interact with your fans on a much deeper level and grow your career a lot faster.
Reason #4. Your website traffic matters much more to the music industry.
Music industry executives know that Facebook likes, YouTube video views and followers can easily be manipulated. Your website traffic is a much more honest metric of your online presence.
Note: You should be active on social media and grow your presence there as much as possible. Do this while growing your own website at the same time.
Music Career Myth #7. It’s hard to make a living as a professional musician.
Reality: Making money as a musician is only hard if:
- You think of your music career as a job.
- You don’t understand how music business works, how value is created and how to monetize it.
- You rely on a single source of music career income.
Solution: approach your music career like a business and build several streams of musical income. This makes your career more lucrative and stable.
Note: Having multiple streams of income is NOT the same as having a backup plan. Your music career income streams must be integrated together to make your ultimate goals easy to achieve. A backup plan involves something totally unrelated to your music industry goals. It takes your focus away from your music career and sets you up for failure, frustration and regret.
Learn how to get your fans to buy your music and make your music career more secure.
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 fulltime careers in the music industry.
Build a successful career in the music business.
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