5 Habits Of Successful Musicians

When it comes to making it in the music biz, it’s a little bit of luck, a bit of hard work, and a whole lot of strategy. This, I’ve found, is where a lot of us get it wrong. We think the music will carry us into the arms of adoring fans and eager labels, and when that doesn’t happen on the merit of the music alone, it’s easy to feel like we’ve failed, or throw up our hands in defeat.

If I’ve learned anything over the last decade that I’ve been doing this, it’s that there are a few habits that successful musicians have, and they’re not as complicated or complex as you might think.

Ready to find out what they are?

Always have a plan

Trying to make it in the music industry and having no plan other than creating good music is like getting into a car with no idea where you’re going but thinking you’ll get there just because the car has gas. Odds are you’ll end up burning yourself (and the car) out by driving in circles endlessly trying to figure out why this turn or that turn didn’t work.

Music is like that

It’s no longer enough just to make great music, you have to be able to show proof of concept when it comes to everything from attracting fans to getting the attention of labels or booking a show. Great music is the baseline for entry–it’s not the whole enchilada

With that in mind, you need to have an actual plan for what you want. So that means if you want to sign to a label you know that you probably have to build a strong social media presence and live show turnout to start. Putting together a plan for how to do those things is essential.

Be flexible in your approach

If one way of getting to your goal isn’t working, be willing to adjust it. For instance, if you’ve decided to grow your social media following by posting to stories every day but after a month it just isn’t working, try something new. This might just mean a tweak in the type of content you deliver. Or it might mean exploring another platform. Be willing to try new things and don’t stay so stuck to one specific way.

In other words, know where you’re going, but be flexible on how you get there.

Always be looking for opportunities

There are constantly opportunities for musicians to grow, most of the time we’re just not paying attention. Sometimes these opportunities will need to be sought out, but other times they’ll be right in front of you. And the more you start paying attention to what’s going on around you, and utilizing that piece of your creativity that puts two and two together, the more opportunities you’ll find.

Say you work at a brewery. Could you suggest doing a monthly residency there? Holding a charity event where you and three other local bands play to raise money for a cause you believe in?

Maybe you see another band’s merch that you really admire. Ask them how they came up with it and who they worked with. Brainstorm how you could create something just as unique as yourself and work with the same manufacturer or designer.

Or maybe you want to play a festival but the majors aren’t ready for you yet. Look around and get local. Create your own. The more opportunities you create for yourself, the more will come to find you.

Create milestones

Having benchmarks to success will help keep you on track. As with the above advice, you should remain flexible on this and if something isn’t working or is no longer a goal, it’s ok to change it. For instance if you set a goal to play a certain venue by the end of the year but by the Fall you either realize you’re still a ways off from that or just don’t want it anymore, it’s ok to change that goal.

The purpose here is to keep yourself accountable and keep yourself growing so that you always have a focus. If you don’t have a set focus you’re working towards (and a plan to get there) it’s really hard to stay on track.

Seek out mentorship

As much support as you can surround yourself with, the better. The most successful people in music and beyond all had mentors and a support team. Whatever your favorite musician, if they came up in the last 10 years, can promise you they didn’t get signed by a label just because they stumbled across their great music. Even the artists getting picked up on social media have already built a huge following by the time labels show interest.
So seek out mentorship. Find support. Build a team around you. Don’t do this alone, and surround yourself with others who believe in you and can fill in the gaps to help you reach your goals. That’s one of the biggest secrets to success in the music industry, and I promise, once you hone in, it’s going to be a gamechanger.

Angela Tyler is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR securing placements on Forbes, Business Insider, Alternative Press, American Songwriter, PopWrapped, & more. She loves ice cream, reality TV, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.

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  • John Jaco - May 26, 2022 reply

    All of the above is fine, but the bottom line is that , without strong material , well ahead of the musical curve, or having a strong intuitive sense of what will be the next big thing to hit, you may be stuck in “little big time” in a regional market for life.
    As someone who was offered and declined a deal with Slash /Warner during the early 90’s, I can tell you 1st hand, not every deal is a good one, don’t be quick to sell out, and don’t ever expect that because one label was interested that another will be as well.
    Be what you are at all times, not what they want you to be, and you will be much happier during your playing career.

  • C K McClure - May 30, 2022 reply

    Bang on the nail mate! Music is about satisfying the soul of its creator. All the musicians around the world should recognize one thing. Are you happy with what you’ve created, or desperate to create something you think others will approve of…

  • Paul Hulm - May 30, 2022 reply

    Good advice Angela.
    Don’t give up !

  • Daniel Anietie - June 7, 2022 reply

    good advice

  • Etoro Utin - June 7, 2022 reply

    Great

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