There is no shortage of talented musicians wanting to “make it” in music. What’s rare are the musicians who work on all four parts of music success.
Not surprising, the first part is music itself and the requirement here is also not surprising: be great.
Of course there are untalented stars, but they are rare and they don’t last.
The first part of music success is to be great. Period.
The second part of music success is to put on great live shows.
Entertaining, engaging and exciting performances connect people on a personal level, drive merchandise sales and create lifelong fans.
A few additional thoughts:
- Understand that there’s an art to putting on great live shows that goes far beyond playing or singing well. If you can, get help. For the best information on this subject, check out Tom Jackson Productions.
- You’re not off the hook if you’re a “sideman” or studio player. Of course it’s not the same as if you were headlining Madison Square Garden, but there’s always a level of expectation surrounding the experience, engagement and excitement of your playing.
The third part is the actual building of a career and doing this well is a must for long-term music success.
There’s an art to building a career too, and yes there’s lots to learn, but all you have to do is act like a CEO:
- A CEO is responsible for the overall health of the business. Keep control of your business and you’ll be fine.
- CEOs also guide the message of the “brand” and yes, you have a brand. Always remember to communicate who you are and what you want in everything you say and do.
- Lastly, CEOs protect the core of the business.
No amount of success in or out of music matters if you’re not:
To learn more about parts three and four (and how to balance one and two), check out my book here.
Which one or two of these have you been neglecting and what will you do about it now that you know?
The gift of music is precious, touching and life affirming. I hope you’re using it well.
Have you ever wondered why you’re talented? Why you’re able to carry a tune, pick out harmony and rhythm, or string melodies together into a song?
And it sounds good, too. Wow.
Have you ever wondered, “why music?”
I mean, everyone’s talented, but you’re talented at music. Isn’t that cool?
And it won’t go away either. Even when you’re old and gray, you’ll still be able to poke at a piano and smile.
What’s a person like you, with your tastes, passions, interests, musical and non-musical abilities, ideas, dreams, desires and resources, supposed to DO with this gift of music?
Is this gift for you only?
And why now instead of the 1600’s or the 300’s?
Why 2012 with electricity, the internet, flight, connectedness, interdependence, and a confusing and growing mix of wealth, poverty, peace and deadly conflicts?
Why are you, the musically talented you, alive now?
You Should Know
I encourage you to know the answers to these and other related questions.
- We need you to know these answers because your music isn’t just for you, it’s for us too.
- You need to the answers so you can handle your treasure with care and use it well.
The alternative was posted on Facebook yesterday by The College of Rock and Roll Knowledge:
On this date, Oct. 12, 1978, while living at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, Sex Pistols Sid Vicious called the police to say that someone had stabbed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. He was arrested and charged with murder and placed in the detox unit of a New York prison. He would never stand trial as he died from a heroin over dose the following Feb.
The answers matter, because you matter.
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.
Most musicians think they’re in the music business, and they’re right. Unfortunately, they leave the business part out and expect to have a successful music career.
Learning from McDonald’s
There’s a legendary story about Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s.
While hanging with a group of graduate students many years ago, he asked, “gentlemen, what business am I in?”
They laughingly answered, “hamburgers!”
And Kroc said, “wrong.”
I’m in the Real Estate business.
The Business of Business
We all know that McDonald’s sells hamburgers. But those hamburgers allow McDonald’s to purchase the most important street corners in the world.
Let that sink in a moment.
The Business of Music
What does this have to do with players, singers and songwriters?
- What do you do? There are many fast food places, some serve hamburgers, some serve chicken, and some, fish. None of them tell the world, “we sell food.” So why do you think it’s okay to say, I play guitar (or drums, or write songs, or…)?
- What about your business? Music won’t buy you real estate, but then again it could. What kind of music could you create if 10 rental properties gave you an income of $5,000 per month?
This isn’t a post about Real Estate though, it’s about the two parts of a music career: Music and career.
Music is what you do and there are thousands of kinds of music.
Career is how you pay for your life and there are thousands of careers too.
Make sure you’re learning about and working on both all the time.