The One Big Thing That Determines Your Music Career Success (And How To Make It Work For You)
by Tom Hess
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- Is it where you live & build your music career?
- Is it your musical skills that the music industry cares most about?
- Is it how many music industry connections you have?
- Is it the age when you first entered the music industry?
- Is it how many music business executives know your name and hear your music?
Hint: none of the above are deciding factors for your sucess in the music industry.
The true indicator of how likely you are to make it in music is:.. your mindset.
Your music business mindset determines every action and every choice you make in your music career (and in your life).
People who make it in music are NOT born with more music business knowledge or with greater music industry potential than you or anyone else. They simply think differently about the music business and take different actions in the music industry. That's why they are virtually guaranteed to make it in music.
Anyone can learn to do this, including you.
Question: “But Tom Hess, what IS “music business mindset”? Is it just positive thinking?”
Answer: No. Music business aside, 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. And your music business mindset is the way you think specifically about the busines side of your music career.
When you have an empowering music business mindset, you choose the right actions in your music career. These music career actions make you more successful every day. If you don’t know what to do to grow your music career, your mindset helps you to ask the right questions and look for answers in the right places within the music industry.
When your music business mindset is just average, you may reach small success in the music business, but struggle to continuously grow your music career.
When your music business 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 within the music business.
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Imagine 3 musicians trying to become successful in the music industry. Everything about them is equal as they each start their music career (their background, age, city they live in, talent, etc.)…
The only music industry related difference between them is their mindset: Musician #1 has a poor music business mindset, Musician #2 has an average music business mindset and Musician #3 has a rock-solid, success-focused music business mindset.
Let’s look at how a difference in music business mindset leads to completely different levels of music industry success.
Music Industry Challenge #1: Making Your Music Career Financially Secure And Stable:
Musician #1 (with a poor music business mindset) thinks: “My first priority is to build a secure backup plan in case I can't make it in music. I must do this first, before I begin working on my music career.”
This music business mindset is rooted in fear of failure, instead of desire for success. The chance of this person to make it in music is virtually zero.
Musicians who think like this, typically pursue a career in some area totally unrelated to the music industry as their backup plan. They become trapped in their “safe and secure” job until they retire… or until they improve their music industry mindset. Their fear moves them in the opposite direction from their music career goals and destroys any chance they have to make it in music.
Tip: Many people you know (in and outside the music industry) 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 to make it in music.
Be careful about taking advice from anyone who has not succeeded in the music industry at the level you want to succeed.
Because even though these people mean well, they don’t know what it really takes to make it in music.
Musician #2 (with an average music business mindset) thinks: “Backup plans are a distraction from my music career. I will do nothing but work on my main music career goal until I make it in music. 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 the odds that you will make it in music. When your only options are to succeed or to make it in music, you become driven to do whatever it takes to reach your music career goals.
That said, this music business mindset is also reckless. While it makes your music industry success more likely, it does little to reduce your chances of failure to make it in music. If you don’t solve your short-term financial or time pressures, it will be extremely hard to build and sustain your music career.
Most musicians with this reckless mindset burn out (or give up) long before reaching their music business goals.
Musician #3 (with a success-focused music business mindset) thinks: “I must find a way to build my music career without putting myself through unnecessary financial hardship. To make it in music, I need to earn money in a way that:
- Gives me freedom to work on my music career,
- Is congruent with my long-term music career goals,
- Provides a good, stable music business income,
- Doesn't require me to work a lot of hours (outside the music business) every week.
This way I can focus on my music career goals for as long as it takes, without excessive struggle or risk. That is how I will make it in music.”
And it multiplies the odds that you will make it in music.
Music Industry Challenge #2: Getting More/Better Paying Gigs:
Musician #1 (with a poor music industry mindset & a low chance to make it in music) thinks: “I don’t get paid enough for gigs because club owners pay too little. They’re just greedy and are ripping me off!”
Is it any wonder that anyone who thinks this way struggles to make it in music?
Musicians who have this music industry mindset will always struggle to find gigs in the music business (and get paid well for them). Club owners in the music industry won’t pay you more for gigs unless you help them earn more money.
Music business tip: 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 within the music industry).
Musician #2 (with an average music business mindset) thinks: “I need to attract more of my music career fans to my gigs. This will help the clubs see that I deserve this music career gig and should be paid more for it. And as I get better at this, I'll be likely to make it in music.”
This music career mindset makes it much easier to get the music industry gigs you want. When you can draw a crowd to your gigs, everyone in the music industry takes notice. What that means for your music career is: every club owner and booking agent in your area will want to work with you and give you a chance to make it in music.
However, this music career mindset doesn’t go far enough to separate you from the average bands in town (and in the rest of the music industry). An average music business mindset is better than a poor music business mindset for sure. But it still limits the music career success you can achieve and there is a chance you won't make it in music.
Musician #3 (with a success-focused music industry mindset) thinks: “I need to attract more of my music career fans to every gig AND motivate them to buy more of my music & music career merchandise at the show.”
When you have this music business mindset, you will take VERY different music career actions to promote your gigs compared to musicians 1 and 2. More importantly, you will get much different (and better) results.
Translation? You become way more likely to make it in music in a big way!
This music industry mindset helps you to:
- Attract more people into the venue and enable club owners and booking agents to earn more money. This is good for everyone involved in this music business venture with you. 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.
- Make more money overall in your music career (from the fee you are paid for the gig + merchandise sales). This makes your chance to make it in music go up higher.
- 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 in other aspects of your music career in the music business).
- Make it much easier for you to get the music career gig, because you can afford to do it for less money than other musicians in the music industry. You make up the difference on the back end of your music career. Since you can now take on more gigs, you build your fan base (and your music career) faster.
- Build stronger relationships with booking agents, club owners and your fans. This makes it easier to get bigger and better gigs in the future.
THAT'S how you make it in music as a real pro!
Want to learn 8 proven ways to get more music industry gigs (and better paying gigs)? Download this free music career eGuide to learn how to make very good money playing live in your music career.
Music Industry Challenge #3: Getting Opportunities In The Music Industry:
Musician #1 (with a poor music business 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.
Musician #2 (with an average music business 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.
Musician #3 (with a success-focused music business 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 music business mindset helps you learn what you don't know and get you on the right track towards your music career goals.
Download this free eGuide to learn how to make a great living as a performing musician.
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a music career mentor, guitar teacher and guitar teacher trainer. He mentors musicians from all over the world how to build very successful careers in the music industry and conducts live music career training events attended by musicians from 50 countries.
Learn what it really takes to make it in the music business.
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