Every musician and every aspiring musician is different. They all follow different paths and have different end goals. No matter what type of musician you are (or plan to be) it is important that you ask yourself a certain set of questions. This will help you get better direction on your career and hopefully in the end make you more successful.
Success looks different to all musicians, some are just happy to make a living through their music, while others seek mainstream fame and want to hear their songs on the radio and win awards etc like Kanye West. No matter what success looks like to you, it is important that music still remains the priority.
There will certainly be times where it is incredibly difficult, and you don’t think you’ll be able to make a name for yourself. However, you need to keep pushing through and go back/ think about the basics, then work up from there.
It is a good idea to have a solid support system around you to help pick you up when you are feeling down. Also remember that you never know when your big break is going to come, so make sure you are always working hard to achieve your music goals.
It is inevitable, you will eventually hit a wall and get stuck, whether you can’t pick up anymore live gigs, or you are stuck on a song. By asking yourself some vital questions you can help yourself get out of a pickle as well as help to motivate yourself to keep fighting the good fight for your individual success.
Everyone has his or her own journey to success, so it is important that you try not to compare yourself to others too often. You have got your own things to worry about so make sure you focus on what you are doing and how you can get to where you want to go.
If you find yourself a little bit stuck and looking for direction, then have a read on below at some of the most important questions all aspiring musicians need to ask themselves:
What is your big end goal?
This is very important to ask yourself as it will pretty much shape everything you do moving forward. Yes, the basics are pretty much the same, create music, play at gigs, etc., but your goals are different to other people’s, so you need to put together a list of want your ultimate end goal is.
Do you want to be a well-known musician in the industry? Or do you want to play live music at local pubs? Or do you want to travel the world to less fortunate countries and play/ teach music there? Or do you not what to be a performer but just a songwriter for the most popular musicians in the industry?
There will obviously be smaller goals that can be reached easier and faster, but in this section just think about your big goal. So, when you look back over your career as a musician, were you able to achieve what you set out to?
It is a good idea to write down your ultimate goal and keep coming back to it every now and then to review and revaluate if necessary. As you grow and develop as a musician (also as a person in general) you will probably find that your ultimate goal may change over time.
What are your short terms goals?
While it is important to have your big end goal in bright lights guiding you over the years, it is crucial for your overall success that you have short term goals in place as well. As the name suggest, these goals tend to be achieved faster than the big overall goal. The timeframe for these types of goals also depends, but it could be anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year.
Having short term goals in place, and being able to achieve them, offers great motivation over the short and long term as you feel like you are actually moving forward to achieve your ultimate success. Having short term success will also keep you motivated and helps to re-affirm to yourself that you can actually make it (i.e. assists to squash any self doubt).
How will you define success?
As touched on in the introduction, success will look different to every musician. Therefore, it is important that you have a think about what success means to you. This will also help to shape the type of activities you undergo and what resources you put where.
For example, if you are looking to become one of the best opera singers in your nation’s opera company, then you probably wouldn’t need to invest in guitar lessons now would you, you would need a vocal coach and lessons!
Like your goals, what success looks like to you may also change overtime. When you are young, have a lot of free time and are super ambitious, you may set some really high levels of success. Then when you get older and find that your overall life priorities need to change, so to may what you measure to be success.
Do you have a good team/ support network around you?
This could include anyone from family and friends to a paid manager, or even band mates (if you are in a band). When trying to be a successful musician it is vital that you have a solid support network around you to help pick you up when you feel as though all hope is lost.
Also, no matter how hard you try to fight it, it isn’t just all about the music. There are other areas you need to think about like marketing, branding and finances. If you build a good team around you, they can help to take some of the external pressures off so you can have as much focus on your music as possible.
How are you going to support yourself?
Sometimes, especially in the beginning it can be difficult to support yourself as a full-time musician. This would mean you would have to look into other avenues to fund your music dream, which generally means you have to have another job.
If you really want to make it in the music industry then you do need to dedicate as much time as possible to your music. Therefore, it is not recommended that you try to land a full-time role, try for something part time or casual. By doing this it means that you have more time to focus on what you really care about.
How are you going to market yourself and your music?
People don’t just care about the music anymore; they want to know about the person behind the music. So, it is important that you don’t just think about how to get people to listen to your music, but how to get them to care about you as well, and how you are going to tell the story.
The great news is that it has never been easier to self-publish your music, you no longer really need to be signed to a label. With the growth of online music streaming services, like Spotify, you can publish your music here can gain access to potentially hundreds of thousands of people that use these services regularly.