What inspires lifelong musicians to keep creating and performing year after year for decades? The answer depends on the musician, but ambition is what drives us to sustain our careers throughout life. For some, ambition means striving for conventional success in the music industry. Other musicians are purely driven by the need to create meaningful work that challenges their listeners as well as themselves. Whatever your goals are in music, you’ll need ambition to succeed. However, this doesn’t mean music career ambitions can or should be the complete focus of your existence at every waking moment.
The non-musical world gets a lot of things wrong about musicians. Some think those who create and perform music are lazy. Others hold overly romanticized views of what the lives of musicians are really like. An expectation that often comes attached to musical stereotypes is that young, talented musicians won’t be able to succeed unless they sacrifice everything on behalf of their music. But, as musicians know, their lives look much different than what the world thinks they do. Some musicians manage to succeed by going all in for their music at a young age. It’s an extreme way of looking at things and has stifled the potential and ended the careers of countless others.
Today’s musicians are constantly barraged with the idea that their music won’t find an audience without it being promoted. We’re lead to believe that if we convince listeners that our work is worth hearing, they’ll eventually believe it too. And so many ambitious musicians focus their efforts on shaping chic images aimed at reflecting success, confidence, and style. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful in your music career and promoting your work. However, adopting the quiet confidence of humility will help you to keep creating and performing no matter how the world receives your music.
Disappointment is inevitable for serious musicians. This applies whether you’re conventionally successful or have never found traction for your music. Ultimately, this makes the art of transforming discouragement into something positive a crucial asset for a music career. It’s not easy, but learning to cope with discouragement and allowing it to fuel our ambitions as musicians is a survival technique we’ll have to turn to over and over again throughout our careers.
Sometimes, you just want things to be easy. You get a little tired of the constant hustle and you find yourself wondering why it’s not enough to simply make good music. I hear you. It can feel like an uphill battle. But one thing I’ve learned after a decade in the music industry is that if you’re taking the right steps, it starts to feel a lot less like a slog and a lot more like progress.
For every big dream in music, there are countless things that a musician needs to do to make it happen. We typically associate thorough organization more with the profession of an accountant than a musician. Yet, it’s an asset that could be the difference between your audience hearing your music or not. Whether you’re booking a national tour or are writing new songs, organization will help you in a big way.
From packed arena tours to modestly attended open mic nights, the ways we used to share musical performances with people were events most of us took for granted. But now that the vast majority of shows have been put on hold, musicians and audiences crave musical connection and meaning through live performances like never before. While digital concerts can’t replace the real thing, they’re your best shot at keeping in touch with fans and maintaining an income through live music right now. These five tips will help yours look and sound professional, and make an impact on your audience.
Every band is a unique universe with its own rules, customs, and relationships. Audiences may see the bands they love as united fronts. However, each is comprised of multiple members with different needs, opinions, and backgrounds. In order for the band dynamic to be healthy and sustainable, each musician needs to feel heard and respected. For some musicians, making their needs known can be a huge challenge, especially if the culture in their band is geared towards a stop-at-nothing for success philosophy. Not expressing your needs will end up ultimately hurting not only you but also the musicians you play with.