Today we’re talking about what it takes to be successful, or at least some of what it takes. Without trying to sugar-coat the subject we all know it takes a lot of work, commitment, patience, meeting the right people and or building your own audience.
As somebody who came from nothing (playing drums in my bedroom) and ended up working with some of the best in the music industry I want to say from my point of view, plain and simple, how to be a professional musician and succeed.
Let's define what being sucesfull is...
I’m not talking about private jets and millions of dollars, (although I really wish you all to get there) but I’m talking about becoming a working musician and living your dream of playing music and being your own boss. So, in other words, to make a decent living with your career.
Set Goals With A Deadline
After years living in Hollywood and the LA music scene I realized how most successful musicians live and learnt a lot from them, how they stay busy, tour, record albums and continue to grow as artists. I was lucky enough to work as an assistant to some of my favorite drummers, and that was one of the greatest experiences because there’s nothing like learning from pro’s that have been doing this for many years.
So this will lead me to “step 1” (keep in mind these are not organized in any specific order)
Find yourself a mentor / shadow somebody that has more experience.
Like I was saying it’s one of the best ways to learn how to do anything, to work closely with somebody that’s been doing this for a while (and it’s successful of course).
One of the easiest ways to make this happen is to become their assistant, ask them if anytime they need help for anything you’ll be happy to help.
Not only you’ll meet a lot of people in the business but you’ll also make some extra money, so it’s definitely a win-win.
Devote your life to practice
Countless hours, days, weeks, months and years to come... The better player you are the better chances you’ll have to get more work. Although I will point out, you can be an okay player and an expert business person and make a lot better living than a complete virtuoso who knows nothing about how to make money. So I’d say balance is key.
If you win an important award in an industry, put it in your email signature or as a tagline in a piece of social content. Showcasing your wins organically and authentically will attract more of the same.
Learn sales and marketing: Your future depends on it
This is one of the most important steps, and I wish somebody had told me this before on my early years being a musician. Easily overlooked by musicians and one of the reasons we end up struggling is because we pay most of our attention to playing and getting better, but then don’t really know how to make money from our skills. Learning basic sales and marketing skills will help you position yourself as an artist to get more work and build new relationships in the music industry. (more on this in upcoming articles)
Those 5 points are good enough, however I’ll add some extra ones…
Very important for Music and any other business. We need to get out there often and meet people, shake hands, exchange information, give away album copies,etc. I know it's boring and time consuming but it can be life-changing and very rewarding once you meet the right people because they can help you connecting you with more musicians , producers, agents and more.
Another important aspect is to keep evolving and improving yourself in every aspect, keep in mind that as an independent musician you will have to become and think like an entrepreneur. This will help you find your own ways to make money with your profession.
At the end of the day is all about how you market and position yourself in the business. So learn everything related to any business and what it takes to keep it growing.
Alright guys, that's gonna be it for this one but there's a lot more coming your way, so stay tuned and I hope you found this article valuable.
Please share it if you did!
Release valuable high-quality content.
This means singles, albums, great looking videos and pictures for social media. Daily or at least very often. This will show your audience that you’re constantly busy and working.
Be patient, it can take many years to get there
Maybe 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years. But if you are persistent and keep trying you’ll make it happen. If you’re thinking right now “damn that’s a lot of time” then fine, quit and change careers. But if music is what you really love then we're here to tell you how to make sh#t happen!