Music is an industry where nothing is guaranteed. Even if you’re talented, lucky, connected, and hardworking, the odds of achieving lasting financial success and notoriety are slim. But like in any profession, there are things bands inadvertently do that thwart their own prospects. Here’s a list of five things that keep bands from being successful:
1. Your songwriting isn’t where it needs to be
So many young bands out there look and act the part, but their songs just aren’t engaging enough to catch people’s attention. Rather than throwing energy into social media promotion and booking shows, some artists would be better off devoting their time to figuring out how to write a memorable song. Easier said than done, of course, but if your band has been spinning your wheels for years with no real success to show for it, this might be why.
2. You’re not investing enough energy into booking shows and promoting your music
While some bands aren’t focused enough on the songwriting side of things, others have trouble finding success because they refuse to do anything other than write, record, and perform. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making music and playing a show now and then for fun, but if your band wants to make a real career out of music, you’ll have to learn how to effectively promote and advocate for your art. This means everything from maintaining a social media presence to submitting your music to record labels. For newer bands, there’s a pretty significant learning curve here, but you won’t start seeing results until you try.
3. You need more practice
For younger bands, a major hurdle to clear is getting proficient enough musically to write, record, and play live. This might be tough advice to swallow, but if you and your bandmates can’t sing and play your instruments well, your band won’t go anywhere. And while technology is changing music in some hugely significant ways, musicians in bands need to be solid players, and that’s not likely ever to change. If your band is having trouble making traction, it might be time to practice more together and individually.
4. You’re not writing enough music
If you feel like your band isn’t meeting its full potential, it could be because you’re not writing enough music. Some artists try to ride the success with an album or EP for years, but the truth is that if you wait too long to write new music, fans will simply move on and forget about you. Writing music isn’t easy, but failing to release music regularly could be holding your band back.
5. You’re just not ambitious enough
Developing a serious career in music can be heartbreaking and tedious at times. Even if you’re good at what you do, you’ll most likely have to face disappointment and hardship before anything significant starts to happen with your music. This means that if you want to find any real success, you’ll have to be ambitious and tenacious. Some bands just don’t want it badly enough, but for musicians who persevere, there’s no telling where music will take them.
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.