By T. Hess
What is the secret to becoming a successful professional musician? How do
some musicians grow massive music careers - playing in a popular band, touring
the world, and recording hit albums... while others never seem to get their
career going at all? It all comes down to one thing: being totally success-minded
in everything you do. You see, most musicians merely copy each other hoping
that this will lead them to success. However, before you can achieve anything
great in the music industry, you must first build a strong foundation for success
with a success-oriented mindset.
Throughout the rest of this article I am going to operate on the assumption
that you have already put great thought into what you want to do in your music
career. To help you understand how you can achieve the greatest success in
your music career, I am now going to compare the way 'unsuccessful' musicians
think versus how 'successful' musicians think. By understanding the difference
between the two, you will be able to reach your music career goals much faster.
Only Associate With People Who Will Help You Succeed
Everyone who is successful in the music industry is highly selective of who
they invest time, money and energy into. You must also take on this trait if
you wish to build a successful music career.
Here is a basic example that demonstrates how you can potential ruin your
music career by associating with the wrong people:
When 'wannabe' pro musicians begin a band, they almost never examine a potential
band member for anything beyond their musical skills. There is no conversation
about how each member's goals work together with the goals of the band and
no strategy put into place to for each member to lead the band to success.
These kinds of bands generally break up after only a month or two. Worst part
is, the risk to music companies increasingly grows once they have deal with
several people who fail to deliver real value to the music industry. This kind
of project is totally doomed.
Musicians who succeed know that there is much more to consider than musical
skill alone. They look to find musicians who have the 'complete package' in
terms of their mindset (made from the principles discussed in this article).
Even if you have no desire to play I a band, you must still create a network
full of success-minded musicians who offer mutually beneficial value to you
and your music career. These musicians all should possess (or be on their way
to developing) the same mental elements discussed throughout this article.
I've seen the great value of this type of network many times over as the members
in my mentoring program have put together money-making partnerships, toured
the world in big bands and accomplished many other awesome things because they
had a network in place that was based on the fundamental principles outlined
in this article.
Eliminate "Zero-Sum" Thinking From Your Mental
All highly successful musicians think, believe and act on the following two
#1. It is NOT in any way 'wrong' to want to make as much money as possible
in the music business. Until you adopt this mindset (and act congruently with
it), no one in the music industry is going to want to invest the time and money
into helping you further your career. The main reason for this is the following:
ALL companies in the music industry exist for one purpose only - To make money.
If you believe the idea that 'money is the root of all evil' you will never
attract the interest (or financial support) of any music companies. All successful
companies will immediately know your stance on this issue upon first speaking
with you (even if you try to hide your true intentions). This is why you must
make all of your thoughts and beliefs 100% congruent with each other as I discussed
#2. The world is filled with opportunity and you can achieve unlimited success
for yourself and those associated with you by using a win/win mindset and forming
mutually beneficial partnerships.
Unsuccessful musicians usually believe opposing ideas to the two mentioned
above. They believe that money and resources are limited in society and that
becoming successful requires 'taking away' these things from others. In addition
to these ideas being proven to be non-factual, the actions you will take as
a result of this thinking will create a 'scarcity mindset'. This mindset will
cause you to make a habit of creating lose/lose outcomes. Result: No one in
the music business wanting to work with you.
This is an additional reason why you should not copy the separate tactics
of other musicians. On top of lacking a main strategy, if you are missing the
correct mindset to support your actions, you will never get the results you
desire in your music career.
Get Rid Of The Entitlement Mentality
Unsuccessful musicians assume that they need to beg people in the music industry
for 'a chance' to get their big break (by sending off promo packs or demos
for example). Whenever this doesn't work, they complain that there is simply
'too much competition' and that making it in the music business is only for
those who are privileged.
In contrast, people who go on to build successful music careers do not sit
around waiting for someone to give them an opportunity just because they have
written music or can play an instrument well. They are fully aware that they
must 'earn' their success.
To do this, they must:
1. Fully be aware of the needs of long term goals of the music companies or
musicians they want to do business with.
2. Complete a strategy that will help them form a beneficial partnership with
anyone they work with.
3. Make the other side 'fully aware' of the fact that working with them will
bring great benefit for everyone involved.
4. Come through big in order to provide all the value they claimed to offer
and prove themselves to be trustworthy and loyal.
Any musician who follows these four steps will put themselves at the head
of the line in front of the other 99.9% of musicians.
Have Intense, Unbreakable Focus
Highly successful professional musicians make sure that everything they do
works in congruence with their major goals. They have an intense focus on their
goals and do not spend 'any' extra time, money or energy on things that will
not help them achieve them. For instance, if your main goal was to release
a solo album on your own, you will need to invest your time into writing and
recording rather than simultaneously searching for a band or get local gigs.
On the other hand, musicians who do not achieve success try to 'keep their
options open' at all times as they are putting together their careers. By spreading
themselves too thin (pursuing countless 'conflicting' goals at once), they
rarely are able to achieve the big results they desire. In order to become
successful, you need to become the absolute greatest at whatever it is that
you want to do - this only happens once you are totally congruent in your thoughts,
beliefs and actions (including tactics and strategies).
An additional aspect of 'being congruent' is staying true to your deepest
desires when it comes to your music career. If your true desire is to tour
in a big band but you settle for a job as a session musician because it feels
'safer', you will have a very hard time lining up all your thoughts, beliefs
and actions to focus on that which is not what you truly want.
So how can you apply this into your own career in music?
Simply put, question yourself in the following manner for everything you
do in the music industry: "How
is the current action I am taking helping me accomplish my greatest music career
goals?" If you are not able to answer this question in basic terminology,
it is a red flag that you are not on the correct path toward achieving your
main goals. Ironically, even if the current action you are taking (or are about
to take) IS truly beneficial for your music career, it will frequently not
have any positive effect if you do it without knowing how to best apply it
into your overall strategy.
Additionally, some of the actions you take might seem entirely unrelated to
your main goals when they are actually completely related to them. For instance,
many musicians who want to tour the world in a band refuse teaching music for
a living, thinking that this will keep them from achieving their goal. However,
the truth is teaching music is the quickest, most stable and flexible way to
earn a living as a musician while working on other activities in your music
career (such as going on tour - something you could never do working a regular
full time job).
In the end, you must know why a specific action is important in order to get
the most out of it and accomplish your music career goals.
Fully Understand What 'Tactics' Are And Why They Are Different From 'Strategies'
In order to reach a high level of success in your music career, you are going
to have to determine specific objectives you want to achieve in the long term.
For instance, you might desire to record music under contract by a music company,
tour the world in a successful band or write songs every day while making good
money through your music.
A 'tactic' is an action you take that achieves a specific result
in the short-term. Examples of this include: playing a show, trying to get
your album reviewed or creating a new web site for your band. Any single action
you make is a tactic.
On the other hand, a 'strategy' generally means combining together many tactics
as part of an entire system with the goal of reaching a longer term goal.
An easy way to understand this is to think of the board game chess. In chess,
tactics refer to each individual move you make on the board. On the other hand,
a 'strategy' refers to your understanding of how each and every move you make
works together in unison to help you win the game.
Musicians who do not achieve success 'only' think with a mindset based around
tactics. A lot of these musicians really try to 'take action' to move their
careers forward, but struggle to make any progress because their actions are
not part of an overall strategy. This is exactly why merely copying others
does not help you achieve success (you are only copying the tactics without
knowing the real strategy they are a part of).
With this in mind, the overwhelming majority of musicians are not great at
forming successful strategies to build their careers (... neither was I). However,
you MUST have a great strategy in order to maximize your chances for success
when it comes to accomplishing your biggest music career goals. To form a solid
strategy, work together with a mentor who has trained many musicians to reach
Now that you know the biggest differences between the mindsets of successful
and unsuccessful musicians, you understand why only a handful of musicians
ever 'makes it' in music. When it comes to developing your music career, your
mindset will either be your strongest friend or your toughest enemy and you
must learn how to make it work in your favor. After you develop the same mindset
as professional musicians, you will achieve one hundred times more in your
music career than you would have otherwise.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a recording artist, online guitar teacher and a music career mentor.
Visit his musician development website to become a better musician, get free
music industry advice, music career tips and professional music industry advice.