One of the most common things I’ve noticed when talking to thousands of aspiring music artists about artist development, is that some people are risk averse and some people aren’t. The truth about the music business is that it’s a huge risk. There are no guarantees and anyone who promises that they can make you a star is selling snake oil. That said, there are steps you can take to help increase your odds of success. And these principles hold true in any business or industry you pursue. Information is power. And it’s never more true than in the music business.
When I started in the music business I knew nothing. No one in my family is in the music industry and I got hooked the same way other young talent gets hooked- watching other big stars play and perform music for a living looked like a hell of a lot of fun. I had some moral support in my family, but most importantly, I showed a natural talent for music when I started playing guitar at age seven. It was hard. But I was determined to stick with it. Even when I hated it, I refused to give up, and that was sometimes just enough to keep me going. Unfortunately, I didn’t know someone like my future self that could direct me in a way to accelerate my success. Still, I forged ahead, and simply replaced ‘giving up’ with ‘find a way that works’. I didn’t wait. And I made a lot of mistakes, and spent a lot of money. But I learned from all of them.
These days, I come across a lot of artists that are “waiting to be discovered” or think that they don’t have to invest in themselves to be successful. It’s true that there are artists that have been fortunate enough to have rich family members, wealthy friends, or just affluent people that believe in their talent in their sphere of contacts. But these are the extreme exceptions- not the rule. The truth is that you will have to spend some money on yourself if none of the above is true. How much money is relative to your goals and limitations at that point in time, and best left for a separate conversation, but investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.
Still, I come across dozens of artists who keep waiting. And waiting. And waiting. They wait for someone else to discover them. They wait to finish school or finish setting up their ‘backup plan’. They wait to save just enough money so that they can ‘feel’ secure for the first month or two about ‘taking a risk’. Meanwhile, the best years of their life are ticking by. The truth is that there is no security or guarantee you will be successful. So you will still have to be calculated about your resources. What is guaranteed is that you will grow old with no regrets and you will probably learn all kinds of ancillary skills, talents, and information that you didn’t have before that will prove to be useful in all kinds of applications in your life- the least of which may be the foundation of a mega successful career as a recording artist.
The time to start is now. Not tomorrow. Not in two months. Not next year. Now. You will always encounter future challenges that will require your strength, patience, and perseverance, no matter what level of success you’re at. And you will always have to invest in yourself on some level if you want to achieve your goals. So the time to begin is now. Because you can make more money, but you can’t make more time.