You’re eager to succeed. You wake up everyday trying to figure out ways to make it happen, to get your music heard by people all over the world, to make people passionate about your music and to perform live in front of these people. You long to make a living out of music, because music is your life and your true passion. Great, all that sounds wonderful and is perfectly possible, but only if you can follow and keep in mind a vital rule for an enduring musical career: it all must start with your music.
I’m assuming you’re confident about your creativity and talent for music, otherwise you wouldn’t be pursuing a career in music, right? (Oh, I hope not.) So if this is your case and you were born to make music, here is a hint for you on where to start building your career from – your music. Kind of obvious, isn’t it? Well, actually not obvious enough, and I’ll explain why using a scenario you’re probably familiar with.
You connect to the internet one day and decide you want to try out new bands and see if you discover some good music somewhere. You log in to Myspace and a few seconds later you get bombarded with invitations from bands asking you to check out their music, so you go check it out. You go through these dozens of pages one by one and listen to hundreds of songs until you realize that the biggest part (if not all) of the music you’ve just heard falls under either of these categories: a) extremely poor (is there any emotion, energy or feeling in it at all?); b) ridiculously obvious (it sounds so much like that band that just recently broke through, doesn’t it?); or c) “square” and predictable (you can tell exactly how a song goes on from any part of it).
Ok, please don’t get me wrong, by no means am I saying that the majority of the musicians have no talent to make good music – I truly believe in the exact opposite, I’m sure MOST musicians are capable of making great music if they concentrate their efforts on it. Also, please note that I’m specifically making reference to the music of these bands/musicians who are trying so hard to get it heard and gain some traction that they’re simply skipping the first basic step to get anything out of their music: to make the most of it.
So what should you do to get noticed as an artist? How can you make the most of your music? Well, before you engage in any initiative to promote your music, whether you’re already playing gigs out there or not, it is vital for you to reflect on the following questions, being totally honest on your answers:
- Is your music truthful, original, creative enough that it would draw your own attention in this overpopulated music world?
- Can you identify in your songs at least one particular attribute you can’t find in any other artists’ songs?
- Have you worked hard enough on your songs to make them perfect so that nothing else you could possibly add to them could make them better? Are your songs really the best they can be?
- Would you become a fan of yourself as an artist just by watching your own live performance?
- Is your live performance powerful enough to “hypnotize” the audience and provide them with a memorable experience they would feel like sharing with everyone around on the next day?
Now, if by reflecting with honesty you hesitated in answering “Yes” to any of these questions, then you’ve got work to do. Because if your music is not great (that is, far beyond “good”), creative, and most importantly, original, then you cannot build any long-lasting career upon it – it simply won’t be strong nor solid enough to sustain your career for years. And if you’re not passionate about your own music, neither can you expect anyone else to be, nor to support your music in the long run, no matter how much effort or money you invest in your marketing campaign.
You may be aware of the fact that musical careers consist of cycles (e.g. the release of an album), but the fact you should pay closer attention to is that the successful and enduring musical careers are sustained by making of each cycle a process of reinvention.
So here’s another tip for you: since you do have creativity and talent for music, all you need now is focus. In the moment you create your music, forget about everything that’s going on around you and focus on making music that expresses who you are and what you want to say, ‘cause this is your communication channel. For that moment forget about the next steps, forget your expectations and apprehensions, forget about pleasing people with your music and instead put your personality, your essence, your feelings and experiences in it. Forget about that thing people labelled “commercial music” and create your music with sincerity. Believe me, people out there are eager to listen to original music that expresses sincerity, and if they find it in your music they will value it.
Equally important, always make sure to keep focused when performing your music. No matter how many people are watching you play nor who these people are, just concentrate on the music, feel its energy and communicate it to the audience. Up on the stage, don’t ever be apprehensive about what people might think about you; simply focus on making your music and your performance so powerful that they will fuel the audience with energy and emotion. Provide the audience with an amazing experience that they will hardly forget about, and the audience will follow you. They will respect you. They will spread the word about your performance and fully support your music and your career.
So let me emphasize it: you will only be able to create great, meaningful music and communicate a contagious energy on stage when you’re extremely focused. And if you practice focus everyday, you’ll see that it’ll become easier for you in the long run.
You and I have something in common: just like me, you have chosen to build your life upon your passion, so I understand your desire to succeed, and not only that – I chose to concentrate my efforts on contributing to the success of gifted musicians like you. Undoubtedly you’re in a challenging world, but it’s a real world and things can work out for you. You will need to struggle and persist, you will need to find people who are willing to fight alongside with you, and if you start building a solid basis – your truthful music and your powerful performance – which you can build your career upon, and keep persisting with a positive attitude, these people will come to you. Well, when you get to this point and are confident to answer “Yes” to each of the questions above, please show me your music!