If you’re like me circa 10 years ago, you’re kinda freaked out about networking. In fact, you’d do almost anything to avoid it. After all, talking to strangers, trying to “sell” yourself, and investing all that time and energy into something that doesn’t produce immediate results? Exhausting, right?!
If you’re serious about pursuing music, there’s no way to go about it without failing––spectacularly and publicly in many cases. As songwriters and performers, we open ourselves up to failure every time we get on stage, put out new music, or share work with blogs, playlists, and radio stations. There’s no denying that experiencing failure in music can leave you feeling frustrated, discouraged, and potentially even devastated. But how you respond when things don’t go your way could mean the difference of whether you’ll be able to keep pursuing music or not. Doing the work of viewing failures as valuable opportunities is one of the best ways to survive and thrive creatively and professionally as a musician.
Every new song you release is a shot in the dark, even if you’re an established musician. The difference between how you feel about the music you put out into the world and what listeners think about it can create discouraging situations. If you’ve ever released music you were passionate about only to be met with bad reviews or no one listening, then you’ve experienced this firsthand. Music never achieves conventional success for lots of reasons––fierce competition, forgettable songs, bad recordings. No matter the reason, how you respond is what’s most important.
Pursuing music in a serious way gives musicians proficiency on their instruments and specialized musical knowledge that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. But while we’re intimately familiar with the musical skills we develop as musicians because we rely on them so much, there are other important non-musical benefits we pick up along the way as well. Here’s a list of five of them:
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your bandmates can be tricky even when times are good. Petty disagreements, deep-seated resentments, and full-throated arguments are common occurrences for bands who spend countless hours recording and touring together during normal circumstances. The bands that can learn how to overcome their differences and work together have the best chance of being productive over the long-term and creating music that leaves a legacy for listeners.
You might not realize it, but there’s a cultural framework that shapes the way that all bands behave. Culture dictates everything from how you and your bandmates interact with one another to the process you engage in to make difficult choices. You can think about culture as an unwritten social agreement that tells musicians in bands what behaviors are okay and which ones aren’t. It’s not easy, but if you don’t like the current culture that exists in your band, there are things you can do to change it from within.
Music is a creative pursuit where creators and performers can be talented, lucky, and ambitious and still somehow end up quitting a few years in. If you’ve been at it for a while, you know how grueling a music career can be. But have you ever nailed down exactly why?