I’m well aware that the title of this article looks like something out of a self-help book for musicians, but I’m ok with it because it’s true. Neglect your career, stop writing songs and putting energy into music, and your musical identity evaporates. But spend all your time touring and holed up in your music studio and things like the state of your close relationships and bank account are sure to suffer. Balance is vital for musicians because it creates a big, dynamic space for their everyday lives to exist in. It makes room for an ambitious, fulfilling career along with vital non-musical aspects of a musician’s life. Can you always have it all when it comes to balancing a music career with a marriage, mortgage payment, or dayjob? No! Of course not. That’s why balance is so important.
From the way audiences listen to music to how songwriters make music, major streaming platforms have changed music so completely that we won’t fully understand what it all really means for some time. But while the long-term impacts from music streaming are difficult to predict, there’s plenty of massive transformations underway we can talk about now. Here’s three of them:
Music is a tough gig in large part because so much of it is collaborative––that is unless you purely make music on your own, but that’s rare. A musician might be hardworking and talented, but if they’re not respectful and considerate of others, being in a band isn’t going to be a sustainable situation. Here are five red flags to look out for in a bandmate:
For how much music has changed over the past couple of years, the reasons bands split up seem to stubbornly be the same. The complex interpersonal dynamics in bands can be extremely difficult to navigate whether you’re fresh out of high school and touring for the first time or have been in a successful band for decades. And even though we’re living in an unprecedented time in music where things work and look nothing like they did even a decade ago, there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to why bands decide to throw in the towel. In no particular order, here are the top three reasons bands break up:
Playing music is emotional whether you’re a serious career musician or a couple of suburban step-dads who get together and jam on covers on the weekends. Emotion in music isn’t just an asset, it’s essential for forming connections between musicians and listeners. The problem comes when musicians let this heightened emotional state follow them off the studio or stage and into other aspects of their career. Arguments, jealousies, anger, rash decisions—these are all major problems brought on when a musician lets their emotions get the best of them. But while emotional flare-ups can be harmful, holding grudges can seriously damage a musician’s music career.
Unless you’re a musician who never releases music and writes songs that only you hear, building a strong connection with your listeners is something that should be on the top of your priority list. Making music that resonates with your fans is one thing, but there’s plenty of other ways to make an impact on the people who listen to your music the most. Here are three ways to help you better connect with your audience:
You might not know it, but some of the most influential institutions in music started with a couple of frustrated musicians taking things into their own hands. This especially applies to the ever-expanding world of independent record labels. But forming your own label is no easy task, and most musicians are probably better off looking to team up with an already established one to help bring their music to listeners. If you’re considering starting your own label, here’s a few pros and cons to consider:
Everyone wants major placements on big name blogs —and understandably. Not only does a positive feature from them hold weight with their audience, but it’s a pretty big ego boost for the indie band that gets featured. The problem? The likelihood of a truly indie band getting featured is pretty slim.
But before you get too deflated, or angry, or go through the myriad of emotions you’re likely feeling when you accept that and let it sink in, I want to re-introduce you to something you’ve probably given very little thought, but is in fact your best shot at long term success: small blogs.
While indie hopefuls may view smaller blogs as beneath them, insisting they’re destined for great things (and they might be), they’re missing out on a crucial player in the music industry if they skip them. As both a blogger (for small and high tier sites) as well as a publicist that has placed my artists on both, I want to let you in on the secret of just why small blogs are the missing ingredient to your music career.