Trying to succeed in music business can seem like a horrifyingly daunting task: so many mega labels, so many doors, hoops, gates, standing in between you and your dreams. It is true the music business is not for the faint of heart, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, nowadays it’s very do-able thanks to the multitude of resources available to you to get your music into the hands of people on all sides of the planet. In the next few articles, I hope to break down some of those walls and fears and open you up to the beautifully fulfilling world that is music creation and expression. Before I jump into all my recommendations, I think it’s important to lay the groundwork for what probably attracted you to this article in the first place: SUCCESS.
DEFINE YOUR SUCCESS
Webster’s dictionary defines ‘success’ as “the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals.” There are a few others listed, but this one is my favorite because it shows that YOU DEFINE YOUR SUCCESS. If your ‘success’ is being rich and famous, then you’re likely to do just about anything to get there, including things that may not actually be good for you or your career. In a world of ‘instafame’ and reality stars, this type of success is here today and gone tomorrow. If you define ‘success’ as being able to make a living and sustain yourself (and possibly your family) on the back of your musical endeavors, well then you’ve put yourself in a much better situation to make decisions that serve that purpose.
Ultimately it truly is up to you. There are various ways to succeed in music business. None of them is any better than the other, and most importantly, none of them carry increasing levels of happiness as the amount of ‘success’ increases. In other words, there’s a place for everyone. If you want to be a mega pop star, front and center on stage at Madison Square Garden, that is possible for you, but it is going to require a different set of skills and efforts to get there, and you’re probably going to have to compromise a bit. If you simply want to tour and put out records on your own terms, you’ll have a similar set of skills to master, but probably going to have to learn how to do other non-musical things in order to promote and distribute your music.
When I made the decision to enter the music business, I primarily wanted to be an artist. But because I know how competitive an industry this is, I decided to define my success, and diversify my skill set, in order to learn every aspect of this business that I could, thereby keeping me from putting all my eggs in one basket and being a one trick pony. Now at this stage in my career, I have made money as an artist, producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, engineer, mixer, mastering engineer, etc. By defining YOUR success, you ensure you know where you’re going and how you’re gonna get there, rather than letting someone else tell you what that looks or sounds like. Which I can assure you, EVERYONE will try to do. As long as you know where you’re headed, you can smile and nod, grab advice that suits your mission and goals, and continue on your way.
A great book that I studied in college and still refer to today, is Donald Passman’s “All You Need to Know About the Music Business.” I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone within any part of this business. I guarantee it is worth the money and will increase your knowledge greatly.
This is an invaluable resource and has helped many people define their success and guide the rapids of this tumultuous and ever-changing industry.
Stay tuned for Part Two of “How to Succeed in the Music Business” when I talk about ‘originality’ and what an important part it plays in making your dent in the music business. Thanks for tuning in!