I spoke to a group of college music majors this past week and it got me thinking about this question. So dear musician, if I could say only one thing to you about succeeding in music, here’s what I’d say.
You’re Never NOT Marketing
- See every conversation as an opportunity to build your network that will lead to the work you want.
- Understand that every gig you take tells the world what kind of career you want. Taking a gig ’cause “it pays great” tells everyone you’ll play anything for money. This is fine if it’s true, but what if you truly want to play on a big rock tour?
- Always play great. People won’t know or care that you’re having a bad day or don’t care about the music. What they will know is that you’re a bad player and you don’t care about music at all.
- Dress for the gig all the time.
- Get around people who are in life where you want to be.
- Help others get to where they want to be in life.
- Show up on time or early and be glad to be there.
In other words, be intentional about everything you do and say so that it leads naturally to your music career.
I’m a Drummer
When I was a full time musician and people would ask me what I did, my answer was, “I’m a drummer.”
It’s a major reason I didn’t succeed more.
And it’s no different for you.
How I Would Answer Today
With the benefit of hindsight and experience, here’s how I’d answer today:
“I am a rock and pop drummer who supports writers and artists in creating exciting recordings and live performances. I am a solid and creative musician with great technique and groove who’s playing inspires and encourages other musicians to have fun. I am easy to work with, can read music, have a lot of experience, and I have a passion to help artists and songwriters succeed with their music careers.”
Of course I wouldn’t actually say ALL of that, but hopefully you see the value of thinking this through.
- Cut and paste.
- Replace my answers with yours.
Questions to Help
Here are the questions for the words in bold in case you’d like them:
- 1a and b – what two words describe the kind of music you play best and want to play most?
- I am a ___________. (drummer, songwriter, singer, etc.)
- Who are the one or two kinds of musicians you want to work with? (musicians, writers, artists, etc.)
- What do you bring to music that makes other musicians want to play with you?
- What do you create with or for other musicians?
- 6a and b – what two words describe what kind of musician you are?
- 7a and b – name two musical strengths.
- Choose one, both or all: playing, writing or performing.
- 9a and b – What two affects does your music have on other musicians
- How do you want other musicians to answer this question: “when I play/write with you, I ALWAYS have _________!?
- 11a, b and c – name three positive personal traits or characteristics
- What are you passionate about making happen through your music?
Share your statement in the comments below.
Something of Value
Every business has something it offers to the public. Whether it is a product or a service, expensive or cheap, a necessity or luxury really doesn’t matter.
All that matters is the concept of exchange, which means the product or service must be something someone wants and is willing to pay for.
It must be something of value.
Let’s Consider Soap
Think about the soap aisle in your local grocery store.
It’s filled with 30 or 40 soaps that do pretty much the same thing.
Some sell more than others, but over time they all sell because they each meet specific needs for specific customers.
What About You?
What is your product?
What is it that you offer to the world?
What kind of soap is it? How will it compete against the other soaps? Why will people choose it off the shelf? How will it be seen on the shelf so it CAN be chosen?
I’m sorry to compare your art to soap, but I have a reason.
People Want to Get Clean
People don’t buy soap because it’s a cool product, they buy soap to get clean.
Likewise, people aren’t buying you or your music because it’s cool either.
They are buying an experience. Their experience.
What’s the experience you’re offering the world?
What kind of experience is it? How does this experience compete against other experiences? Why will people choose your experience off the shelf? How will your experience be seen on the shelf so it CAN be chosen?
Share your thoughts in the comments.