Having musical talent and intuition is good, but if you really want to succeed in music, you’ll need much more than that. Whether it’s the discipline it takes to spend hours at a time practicing an instrument or the planning and communication skills needed to book shows and pitch new music to press outlets, sheer talent isn’t enough to make it in music––especially in today’s DIY-driven industry. If you want to be successful in music, you might want to try thinking about it like your job.
A job is more serious than a hobby
If you want to find any sort of success in music, you’ll have to stop thinking of practicing, playing shows, and writing songs as a hobby. Seeing music as an actual job is a better way to go about it because with a job, the stakes are higher and much more is required of you. People stay in their jobs and do things they don’t always want to do because, well, they have to. And while that strict sense of obligation is something lots of people turn to music to escape from, nothing good in music will come to you unless you work for it. For that hard work to happen, the stakes need to be much higher than they would be if you were spending your time on a hobby.
People with jobs have to stick to a schedule
As much as we all like to think we can be serious with music without any set schedule, that’s rarely the case for most musicians. Lots of people dread going to their jobs because it requires them to stick to a strict schedule, but that sort of discipline and devotion to time is essential for keeping a band together and making music seriously. No, you don’t need to wake up two hours early and make music before heading out to your actual job, but creating and sticking to a weekly practice schedule is critical in helping you thrive in music, no matter what your goals are.
A job is a commitment
Thinking of making music as being a career is helpful because it forces you to make a real commitment to what you’re doing. Believe it or not, lots of people actually enjoy their jobs and show up to work every day for more than just a paycheck. No matter what you’re doing in music, payoffs like affirmation, receptive listeners, and record sales are often sparse and hard to find, especially if you’re just starting out. This means that you’ll have to find rewards in your commitment to the craft. Committing to something means working through temporary setbacks and challenges and showing up to something every day, whether that’s a job or a relationship. If you really want to do something meaningful in music, you’ll have to fully commit to what you’re doing.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.