There are so many talented musicians who stop making music because they’re not able to launch their music career or they’re stuck in a career plateau. It’s such a waste because most of them really have a strong potential to become big, yet they just don’t have any career map. And, most of all, many of these artists have no clue that they’re ruining their careers even before it starts.
Here are five ways you sabotage your music career big time:
#1 NOT FOCUSING ON YOUR MUSIC
You can spend your whole life learning music marketing and still fail if you don’t have great music to promote but you can suck at marketing and still do well if your music is awesome. Choose music over marketing always. Anyway, once you have a few really, really good tracks, then those tracks will help you a lot in marketing because good music is always much easier to market.
#2 TRYING TO MAKE EVERYBODY YOUR AUDIENCE
Personally this held me back for a long time…I wanted to appeal to every person on the planet and every song I recorded was in a different style, trying to model the recording techniques of each genre.
The main thing to remember is that when you describe your music or songs to people you’re really describing the ideal fan for that piece of work…
#3 BEING AN ASSHOLE
Some musicians focus mainly on their music because they believe that talent is everything. They somehow look down on those musicians who are social butterflies and who have excellent social skills because they somehow associate it with the lack of pure, raw talent. I know this feeling is not expressed by many but some artists do see cheerfulness as lack of substance and talent so they try to be mysterious and withdrawn because it makes them look more intelligent, or at least more poetic.
But, come on. Being socially detached does not make you more talented or interesting. In fact, these social interactions and relationships can open new opportunities and can help you learn more about the music industry and its ropes. Let’s face it- when it comes to music, personality and social relations do matter…a lot.
Leave your temper at home. Don’t be too picky. Don’t be cocky. Don’t gossip. Be on time. Don’t shame anyone unless they really, really, really deserve it. Don’t whine. Don’t be entitled.
#4 NOT NETWORKING
If you ever have to write “to whom it may concern” in your messages to promote your career, then you are not on good enough terms to ask for any help. You need to get out there and do a little bit more networking first.
#5 WAITING FOR A RECORD LABEL TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE
If you already sent demos to thousands of record labels yet you still have no deal one year later, that’s normal. First of all, maybe your demo sucks (check out if you’re doing these things). And before you get cynical, yes, sending demos still work. HOWEVER, in order for it to really work, you have to do a dozen more things, and trust me, they’re not so easy. You have to operate like a signed label! BUT WHY NEED A LABEL WHEN YOU’RE ALREADY DOING GREAT? Well, the labels have the money to invest in marketing and distribution so that your $1M will become $50M. That’s basically the answer. But that also means you will be working 50 times as hard. But if you want to go big, this is the way to go. If you’re not yet signed though, then sister, waiting and hoping and praying won’t get you anywhere. You have to be proactive with your career and not depend on a label for your career to shoot up. Time wasted waiting is well…well, wasted time.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.