The One Big Thing That Determines Your Music Career Success (And How To Make It Work For You)

by Tom Hess

How To Get More Gigs And Earn A Lot More Money Playing Live Guide

By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Tom Hess Music Corporation who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

What do you think is the one thing that determines your music career success more than anything else?
  • Is it where you live?
  • Is it your musical skills?
  • Is it how many music industry connections you have?
  • Is it your age?
  • Is it how many record company executives know your name and hear your music?

Hint: it’s none of the above.

The correct answer is:.. your mindset.

Your mindset determines every action and every choice you make in your music career (and in your life).

How To Get More Gigs And Earn A Lot More Money Playing Live Guide

By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Tom Hess Music Corporation who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

Your music career success is the result of your actions and choices, which are the product of your mindset.

Successful pro musicians are NOT born with more knowledge or with greater potential than you or anyone else. They simply think differently, take different actions and get completely different results.

Anyone can learn to do this, including you.

Question: “But Tom Hess, what IS “mindset”? Is it just positive thinking?”

Answer: No. Your mindset is a general term for the way you think, the way you deal with challenges, the way you see the world and the way you make decisions about your music career.

Watch this video to learn how to make the right decisions in your music career and set yourself up for success:

When you have an empowering mindset, you choose the right actions that make you more successful every day. If you don’t know what to do to grow your career, your mindset helps you to ask the right questions and look for answers in the right places.

When your mindset is just average, you may reach small success in the music business, but struggle to continuously grow your career.

When your mindset is just average, you may reach small success in the music business, but struggle to continuously grow your career.

When your mindset is poor, you have no chance to get anywhere in the music industry… no matter how talented you are, how great your music is, or who you know in the music business.

Imagine 3 musicians trying to become successful in the music industry. Everything about them is equal (their background, age, city they live in, talent, etc.)…

The only difference between them is their mindset: Musician #1 has a poor mindset, Musician #2 has an average mindset and Musician #3 has a rock-solid, success-focused mindset.

Let’s look at how a difference in mindset leads to completely different levels of success.

The One Thing That Determines Your Music Career Success

Music Industry Challenge #1: Making Your Music Career Financially Secure And Stable:

Musician #1 (with a poor mindset) thinks: “My first priority is to build a secure backup plan in case my music career doesn't work out. I must do this first, before I begin working on my music career.”

This mindset is rooted in fear of failure, instead of desire for success.

Musicians who think like this, typically pursue a career in some area totally unrelated to music as their backup plan. They become trapped in their “safe and secure” job until they retire… or until they improve their mindset. Their fear moves them in the opposite direction from their music career goals and hurts their chance of success.

Tip: Many people you know likely think just like the musician in this example. They will try to persuade you to create a safe and secure backup plan for your music career just in case you fail.

These people mean well, but they don’t know what it really takes to make it in this business. Be careful about taking advice from anyone who has not succeeded at the level you want to succeed. 

Musician #2 (with an average mindset) thinks: “Backup plans are a distraction from my music career. I will do nothing but work on my main music career goal until it is reached. I won’t waste time going to school or getting any job that would get in the way of my music career.”

This sink or swim mindset greatly increases your chances of making it in music. When your only options are to succeed or fail, you become driven to do whatever it takes to reach your goals.

That said, this mindset is also reckless. While it makes your success more likely, it does little to reduce your chances of failure. If you don’t solve your short-term financial or time pressures, it will be extremely hard to build and sustain your music career.

When you don’t have money, you become desperate. When you are desperate, it’s easy to make poor choices that hurt you in the long run.

Example: you may say yes to any record deal that promises you a cash advance, just because you are desperate for money to pay your bills. You may regret the decision later once you realize that the deal comes with other terms you don’t like… but it will be too late to do anything about it.

Most musicians with this reckless mindset burn out (or give up) long before reaching their goals.

Trending Articles:
Musicians On StageFacts & Myths Of The Music Business
Learn how 3 big lies about the music industry can kill your music career.

Hands Playing A PianoHow Secure Is Your Music Career?
Test the effectiveness of your path

to being financially secure in music.

Image Of Plugs Going Into AmplifierWhy Only Few Ever Make It In Music
Learn why so few musicians make it
in music & how to do it for yourself.

Musician #3 (with a success-focused mindset) thinks: “I must find a way to build my music career without putting myself through unnecessary financial hardship. I need to earn money in a way that:

  1. Gives me freedom to work on my music career,
  2. Is congruent with my long-term career goals,
  3. Provides a good, stable income,
  4. Doesn't require me to work a lot of hours every week.

This way I can focus on my music career goals for as long as it takes, without excessive struggle or risk.”

Musicians with this mindset work hard to build multiple streams of music career income as soon as possible. This mindset gives you much greater control about the direction of your career. 
Want to see 11 proven ways you can make money as a professional musician? Download this music career income cheat sheet (it’s free and you don’t have to enter an email address). Print it out and study it, so you know what options you have for growing your music career.

11 Ways To Make Money As A Pro Musician

Click Here To Download

When you are not struggling financially, you are able to think long-term and make better choices that help you reach your goals.

You also have the power to say “no” to bad deals and bad opportunities. More importantly, you have the freedom to say “yes” to good opportunities that other musicians turn down.

Question: “Tom Hess, why would anyone turn down a good music career opportunity?”

Answer: Some music career opportunities require you to invest time and money into something before you see any money.

Example: Imagine that a record company asks you to work in the studio for 6 weeks, 12 hours per day to make your first record… and then go on tour for 10 weeks… all while getting paid little or no money.

Could you commit to both projects right now and still pay your bills?

Most people could not…

...and thus miss out on an opportunity that could have been an important step in their music careers.


Music Industry Challenge #2: Getting More/Better Paying Gigs:

Musician #1 (with a poor mindset) thinks: “I don’t get paid enough for gigs because club owners pay too little. They’re just greedy and are ripping me off!”

Musicians who have this mindset will always struggle to find gigs (and get paid well for them). Club owners won’t pay you more for gigs unless you help them earn more money.

Simply showing up and playing your songs doesn't make any money for club owners (unless you are already a successful artist who consistently draws in a large number of fans).

Musician #2 (with an average mindset) thinks: “I need to attract more of my fans to my gigs. This will help the clubs see that I deserve this gig and should be paid more for it.”

This mindset makes it much easier to get the gigs you want. When you can draw a crowd to every gig you play, every club owner and booking agent in your area will want to work with you.

However, this mindset doesn’t go far enough to separate you from the average bands in town. Although an average mindset is better than a poor one, it still limits the success you can achieve in your music career.

Musician #3 (with a success-focused mindset) thinks: “I need to attract more of my fans to every gig AND motivate them to buy more of my music/merchandise at the show.”

When you have this mindset, you will take VERY different actions to promote your gigs compared to musicians 1 and 2. More importantly, you will get much different (and better) results.

This mindset helps you to:

  1. Music Career Success MindsetAttract more people into the venue and enable club owners and booking agents to earn more money. Since you have additional motivation to work harder to promote your gig (increased merchandise sales), you’re more likely to get people to your show.  
  2. Make more money overall (from the fee you are paid for the gig + merchandise sales).
  3. Not be as concerned about how much money you are paid for the gig itself (because you make money in different ways before, during and after the gig).
  4. Make it much easier for you to get the gig, because you can afford to do it for less money than other musicians. You make up the difference on the back end. Since you can now take on more gigs, you build your fan base faster.
  5. Build stronger relationships with booking agents, club owners and your fans. This makes it easier to get bigger and better gigs in the future.

Want to learn 8 proven ways that will get you more gigs (and better paying gigs)? Download this free music career eGuide to learn how to make very good money playing live.


Music Industry Challenge #3: Getting Opportunities In The Music Industry:

Musician #1 (with a poor mindset) thinks: “Getting better opportunities is all about being a great musician, having lots of contacts in the music industry, living in a city with a great music scene….and luck.”

Musicians with this cynical mindset shift responsibility for their success on other people and circumstances. They make excuses, instead of taking personal responsibility and changing their situation for the better.

You can either become successful, or you can make excuses about why you are failing. You cannot do both.

Musician #2 (with an average mindset) thinks: “If I simply work hard for a long time, I will eventually get the opportunities I want.”

This mindset reflects self-reliance, personal responsibly and work ethic (all of which are needed to succeed in the music business). This will help you get much further in your career compared to the cynical, entitled mindset of many musicians.

However, hard work by itself doesn't lead to long-term success. Many musicians fail in the industry, because they don’t have the right strategy to reach their goals.

Would you like to learn exactly what the music industry looks for in you, so you know how to become successful? Watch this video:

Musician #3 (with a success-focused mindset) thinks: “I may not know how to get big music career opportunities…but I commit to doing whatever it takes to find out. I will seek guidance from someone who has done what I want to do in the music industry and/or has already helped other musicians become successful. I will not assume without knowing and I will not take advice from people who don’t really know what they are talking about.”

It doesn't matter how much (or how little) you know about the music business right now. Success-focused mindset helps you learn what you don't know and get you on the right track towards your goals.

Download this free eGuide to learn how to make a great living as a performing musician.

Tom HessAbout 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.

Learn what it really takes to make it in the music business.

EmailForward this article to your friends

© 2002-2023 Tom Hess Music Corporation