4 Common Excuses Keeping Artists From Pursuing Music

What success means in music will inevitably be completely different for each of us, but we won’t get to where we want to go with our music if we don’t do the work as serious musicians. Whether you’re working towards becoming a professional songwriter or just want to write and rehearse enough songs to play a live show at a local venue, you’ll need to put in plenty of work to reach your goals. The trouble is that we often let excuses keep us from pursuing music the way we wish we could. These are four common ones to look out for that artists often cite when they talk about what’s keeping them from succeeding. 

I don’t have enough time

Let’s start with a major excuse that every musician on the planet can come up with at some point in their lives. Most musicians are not full-time professionals, and even the ones who are still lead busy lives. Time management is a skill you have to learn if you want to be a serious musician. Life will always get in the way of your music if you don’t plan ahead whether you have a demanding non-musical career, kids, or even just a romantic relationship. “I don’t have enough time” is really just code for “I don’t prioritize my music and schedule time for it.” If you love music and want it to be a part of your daily life, schedule it. Two hours a week is better than zero hours, so business is not an excuse. 

I’m not good enough

This excuse keeps countless artists from being brave enough to pursue music. There’s this idea in music that you’re either good at it or not, whether it’s singing or writing songs. This is truly a very small percentage of the time. The vast majority of musicians have to spend years mastering their instruments, developing their songwriting skills, and building confidence and expertise. If you’re not good enough, you need to work harder and put more time into what you do as a musician. Overnight success stories are great marketing tools but they don’t reflect reality. By focusing on the work in music, whether it’s showing up to band practice or finishing your first EP, you’ll get closer and closer to reaching your goals. 

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I have no one to play/create with

This can be a tough challenge, especially if you’re a serious musician living in a rural area or if you don’t know any other like-minded musicians. Some of us do just fine creating alone, but others truly thrive when they have other musicians in their lives to collaborate with. Every situation is different, but many musicians can now find and work with one another remotely, and there are loads of examples of successful artists that have worked this way. But if you’re looking for musicians locally to play with, you need to make a real effort to find people before you throw in the towel and say there’s no one available. You might need to be patient and flexible, and if it’s been a goal of yours for years to start a band and you can’t find anyone where you live, it’s probably worth being open to relocating to a place that better fits your needs. 

I haven’t been successful in music yet

This excuse plagues experienced musicians. Music is a career where you can do everything right and still fail, so this makes sense. However, if you love music and want it to be in your life, coping with failures or just the idea that nothing tangibly successful has happened with your career yet is something you have to do. The joy of creating and performing music has to be enough of a reward to keep most people going in this position.

Some excuses are valid, so consider this if you’re having a hard time doing what you want with music. But whatever the situation is, you’ll have to learn to prioritize your work, manage your time and expectations, and continue working in challenging circumstances if you want to pursue music creations and performance over the long term. 

Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.

Rebecca4 Common Excuses Keeping Artists From Pursuing Music


Join the conversation
  • Darrell Heath - January 22, 2022 reply

    Thank you great article and i love dogs to !!! MY DOG SPIKE !!! tells the story … Thank You

  • Kiirstin Calister-Kuhi - January 26, 2022 reply

    #4 is definitely resonating with me right now

  • Ken Teel - January 27, 2022 reply

    Pursue music as a career….. that’s a laugh. The music business is a crap shoot. It’s more like a sweepstakes than a business. There are hoards of talented people out there. Every city has talented people, musically. Only a few of them, like 1% of them make serious money in music. Keep your day job. Keep this rock star baloney sorted out in your head. Have fun with music, but don’t think that this is any kind of realistic avenue for earning a living (except for a very few people.) Yes, there are a few lucky people (who have worked hard, too), but they are a very small in numbers, relative to the general population. I believe that articles like this encourage people to think unrealistically.

    DENNIS - February 9, 2022 reply

    I agree with Ken Teel. Reality is a harsh master. Go to Nashville, New York and L.A. Just go! If you and your music resonate in those places, great! If not, go ahead and give up life living in a mobile home, playing for tips in some dismal bar where no one listens to your tunes and fix your musical addiction by getting a job or career, something that will support your music habit so you can buy equipment, play for good money only when good money presents itself and quit playing the drunken, addicted, homeless, non-hygienic victim the establishment demands you to be before you’re allowed to succeed! Write songs, play gigs, meet girls, guys, make great music, don’t quit! Just don’t sacrifice a good life to serve your muse. I’ve known several stars on the back end of their careers, some dead broke, some completely forgotten it’s sad. Don’t give some pencil-necked geek in a suit and swank office control over your life unless they commit to you with the only commitment that matters in that business: MONEY! Oh and, ROCK ON!

  • Kead - January 27, 2022 reply

    You’re Wrong!
    Money is the the number 1 and the most common factor, it’s capital intensive

  • John - January 27, 2022 reply

    Ive never heard these excuses from any musician. The problem today is that what real labels are left , no longer land in your town, catch shows on the radar and pull you or like minded bands up to the big leagues because you are fine musicians with your finger on the pulse of what is or may be happening. It’s now all about a single voice that catches their eye, that they can mold into the next Beyonce, or whomever . American Idol or The Voice ring a bell ? The only thing happening in the USA now is rap or new country and that has spread worldwide in case you havent been listening. I you are doing anything else, there is little to no ear for it, though there are some really good online stations playing real alternative rock. How many doses of mass rejection can you take before you stop doing what you love should be the topic.
    I never thought I’d say this but Rock is truly DEAD and on all levels.

  • Prince chidi Chineke - January 27, 2022 reply

    Thank you for this message, i so much Appreciate this🤝 my new Album is gonna drop next month, being February

  • Kent Taylor - January 27, 2022 reply

    If fame and fortune is your main goal in life then you would be foolish to use music as your vehicle to success. Even before the internet, statistically musicians in the business had a 97% failure rate, and that’s with artists who had a label and a budget. Interestingly enough, musical instrument retail sales rivals music sales worldwide indicating that selling the “dream of stardom” is just as profitable.
    In my opinion a true musician isn’t driven by anything less than the inspiration to create and express the music inside them. It is a passion pure and simple. If you wake up hearing music in your head and it often keeps you awake at night then you are a true musician. You can’t help but be who you are regardless if anyone listens or not. The ability to play music in any capacity is a gift greater than fame and fortune.

  • Thuram - January 28, 2022 reply

    Thank you for the insight, I have been making such excuses and l now find myself encouraged

  • Cartas de Amour - January 29, 2022 reply

    Success in music is for everyone! Be who you are. God created you with song as a gift. Will you be the next Adele or band? I don’t know, but stay out of the machine and let no one else define what success means to you. Listen, you’ll hear. All the love, Cartas de Amour “One day will change the end!”

  • Dennis - February 9, 2022 reply

    RAP MUSIC ISN’T MUSIC!! Quit referring to it as such. It’s a beat with some nasty shocking words thrown in. No music.

  • Tone c - April 1, 2022 reply

    Genius article i talked about this many struggling artist i know. I think I’ll just share your article with them instead.

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