We all want to be a successful musician, right ?
During my studies, I first came across an article written by John Wooden about his creeds for success. This has led me to develop my own creed for success— in my personal and professional lives.
Having been in the music industry for 30 years, I’ve witnessed firsthand what works and doesn’t work when it comes to human behaviour; this includes everything from how we view ourselves (self-esteem) to how we interact with other people (communication skills).
I’ve narrowed these observations down into seven success characteristics – all tailored specifically for musicians who want to build a career.
It takes time to get the results you want.
If you are still looking for the desired result after investing your time and energy, it can be easy to get discouraged and quit.
This is why it’s essential to know how to cope with this fantastic journey’s tough times and rewards.
Paradoxically, while music might seem like a passing fad for some people who only consume what they read about or hear about on social media channels, it took many hours—even days, weeks, months—to hone one track.
Here are some ways to keep yourself patient:
- Open up to change
- Set achievable goals instead of unattainable ones that will unmotivate
- Remind yourself why you do what you do
If you want to be successful, consider being consistent in everything you do.
From practising your instrument daily to eating well and getting enough sleep, consistency will help you achieve your goals faster.
Being consistent also means being honest with yourself about where you’re at with your music career.
If there’s something that you still need to improve at but know that it’s going to take some work before you can get there, then make sure that you schedule the time necessary to put in the effort required.
The benefits of being consistent as a successful musician are numerous.
Maintaining a presence in your fans’ lives will help them feel more connected to your music and allow them to engage with your work.
Building relationships will help develop both your fan base and the number of ways you can reach your audience.
The algorithm for most streaming platforms is programmed to favour consistency, which means that even if it takes a little longer for your song to go viral, it will be more sustainable when it does.
And finally, consistency helps with engagement on social media because algorithms favour pages that post regularly over those that post sporadically or not at all.
It all comes down to recognizing when something isn’t working anymore and knowing how to adapt accordingly; it doesn’t matter what field you’re in or what level of expertise or skill set you have right now.
Everyone has days where they feel like they just can’t keep going anymore or think they’ve hit a wall and there’s no way around it… but those are just temporary setbacks, not permanent ones!
So don’t give up now when things are just starting to get interesting!
- Use a social media scheduler, e.g. Later or Buffer are the best two for value for money. Or you can use Meta’s free scheduler for Fb and Instagram.
- Have a clearly defined release strategy (short-term and long-term)
- Maximise calendar apps
- Set small incremental tasks/objectives/goals.
There is something those music producers and artists who share only their successes on Instagram, gloat on Facebook, as well as those who post triumphant Twitter posts don’t always tell you.
Those chart successes and big bookings don’t reveal the long and painful music industry rejections behind the scenes for music producers and artists.
If you’ve been rejected, consider that you are not alone and that you are in relatively good company.
Publishers turned down JK Rowling’s wizard series 12 times before it was finally signed up for publication.
The famous bands “U2” and “The Smiths” were rejected by their first record labels.
Elvis Presley was sacked by his manager after just one gig.
“The direction is a good one, in my opinion. The only thing missing from this project is material.” This is the Feedback Madonna received from Jimmy Lenner on her demo tape submission.
Ed Sheeran was also told that he was “slightly chubby and ginger and not a good marketing tool.”
You get the point.
How to handle rejection
But how you handle the music industry rejection? As a music artist or producer this is one of the keys to making it in the music industry.
When you start in the music business, you will most likely experience much of it.
You will need to be prepared for an endless succession of no’s.
You need to move beyond the disappointment. Keep striving and believing in your music production until you get that magic first “yes.”
Music Industry rejection will come in many forms.
You might email a hundred people and only receive one reply.
Or you send out your new music track to ten best friends, and only one listens.
Sometimes you upload your excellent new release to Soundcloud or Youtube. However after two weeks, you’re still in single figures for music streams and plays.
When you get your track signed by a record label. But it doesn’t make it into any music charts or playlists, and it joins the music landfill on the rest of the Internet.
Your friends are busy with their own lives, children, cats, work and uploading Instagram stories. It will be hard not to be disheartened if your music doesn’t mean as much to them as it does to you.
Also, remember the dreaded keyboard warriors on social media. Those who somehow get enjoyment from telling you how bad your music is in some form or another.
And don’t be down when you finally release a single, EP or album, and it sinks without a trace.
“Did you know that the world releases millions of music tracks each month?” On top of the billions of pieces of music already out there.
In 2022 Spotify reported that their platform was receiving uploads of 100,000 tracks daily. I am sure this will no doubt continue to increase.
Yes, that’s daily.
So if you do the maths, it leads to 3 million tracks uploaded a month and a whopping 36.5 million tracks to Spotify alone per year.
Remember you are in the same boat as many others. It is virtually impossible to get people to pay attention to your music, so don’t be disheartened.
Building up your resilience will give you more than a chance to reach your goals.
- Only try to control the controllable
- Turn all negatives into a learning experience (growth mindset)
- Know your why
- Trust the process, aka the journey
“There is no such thing as failure – You either Win or Learn !” – Unknown.
This is a poignant quote that resonates with me, especially true after navigating the music industry for the last 30 years.
Embracing failure may seem counter-intuitive, but it will help you in the long run.
This won’t make things any easier for you at first because overcoming obstacles is never easy – but each time you face them, they get a little bit easier.
And when you overcome your fears of risk and step out of your comfort zone for a more significant cause, congratulations: now you know how great life can be.
Music industry failures help us evolve and grow stronger as artists (or entrepreneurs) if we learn from them; we should also view other people’s successes with caution because they could fuel our downfall later down the line.
To be a successful musician, one thing that must never happen after overcoming these hurdles is giving up.
Once again, without enough perseverance, chances are good that we’ll never find success later on anyways.
So whatever happens, remember this quote:
“All doors open to those who don’t give up”– Audrey Hepburn.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things
- Ready, Fire, Aim – Do first, work it out later.
- Seek feedback from your peers and friends
- Self investing, always learning. Moving the ship forward
In today’s world, it’s easy to feel like there are a million different paths you can take with your music career, but that doesn’t mean that all of them are right for you.
It’s essential to have a clear path in order to be a successful musician so that you know where you’re going and how to get there!
I’m not saying that having a clear path means giving up on other opportunities.
It just means knowing which ones are worth your time and energy so that you save time and effort by trying to do too many things simultaneously!
Having a clear path will also help keep your mind at ease when it comes to worrying about whether or not you’re making enough progress towards your goals;
If you know what those goals are, then there’s no question about whether or not you’re moving forward or backwards because it’ll be crystal clear either way!
- Understand where you are at present
- Know your why
- Set your objectives/goals
In today’s world, being authentic is essential to be a successful musician.
When people see that you’re not yourself, they lose interest quickly because they can tell you’re trying to be someone else.
When people see that you’re being yourself and sharing your genuine thoughts and feelings with them, they feel connected to you on a deeper level because they know that you understand what it’s like to be them too.
They can relate to you better than anyone pretending to be something they’re not just to make money or gain popularity quickly.
People want to surround themselves with people who are just as accurate as they are.
So you’ll build lasting relationships with fans by being yourself from the beginning and always keeping that same attitude throughout your career as an artist.
In turn, they will support you through thick and thin because they know what it feels like to be imperfect, just like you are too!
- Be genuine
- Be unique
- Be you
In the music industry, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of humility.
The temptation to brag about your success and talents is vital but can be easily overdone.
If you’re not careful, you could alienate people with your boasts, which won’t help anyone.
So what does being humble in the music industry really mean?
It means keeping your ego in check and being polite to everyone you meet. It means being grateful for what you have instead of feeling entitled.
And most importantly, it means respecting yourself and others—in other words, being mindful.
This will able you to be a successful musician in the long run: not bragging about how much money your last album made or how many fans are following you on social media now; instead, focus on creating a good relationship with those around you.
Focus on ensuring everyone feels appreciated for their work—that’s where true creativity comes from!
- Give more unconditionally – you’ll feel amazing doing so
- Listen with intent
- Thank people – it’s free to do so
- Have gratitude for your ability to be in such a fantastic industry
In conclusion, the 7 creeds for a successful musician include patience, consistency, resilience, networking, versatility, creativity, and self-awareness. These are essential attributes for anyone pursuing a career in the music industry, where success is built upon hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Patience helps musicians deal with the challenges and setbacks of making a music career, while consistency is crucial in maintaining an engaged fan base and staying relevant. Resilience helps musicians handle rejection and criticism and keeps them motivated. Networking allows musicians to build relationships and create opportunities for themselves, while versatility enables them to adapt to changes in the industry.
Finally, creativity sets a successful musician apart, and self-awareness helps musicians understand their strengths and weaknesses and make the necessary changes to improve. By incorporating these creeds into their lives, musicians can increase their chances of success in a highly competitive industry.
P.S. Here are some awesome ways that you can connect and scale up with Ma’ana
Join the Lab Musiqaa Facebook Group. Ma’ana community and learning hub for MENA musicians.
Download The 7 Pillars To Amazing PR checklist that will inform you what you need in order to give you the best chance of a successful PR campaign
Coaching – If you are looking for regular one to one assistance over time to help you scale then I can help guide you. Get in touch to see how we go through the strategies and tactics to help scale your music career.