How to Define Success as a Musician
So many musicians believe that they need to achieve “Stardom” to qualify as a success as a musician. A lot of this mentality is fueled by the celebrity culture both in the media and in the industry. Yes, you want fans and you want to have people come to your show and love your music. But, the celebrity “class” in the industry makes up a very small percentage of those who are making music their career.
Did you know that the Indie music industry accounts for over $6.9 BILLION dollars of the music industry market and it is increasing every year. With this amount of money being spent on Indie Music there is a good chance you can get your share of it.
What Kind of Musician are you?
The first thing you need to do is determine what kind of musician you are. Where do you sit in the world of musicians. So, let’s take a look at some different types of musicians to see where you sit. Now, you have to be honest with yourself!
- The Weekend Warrior – You love to play music and you have a band of like minded people. You have a day job, mortgage, Car Payments and working towards a pension or 401k. For the most part this article is really not for you. If you are having a good time, making a few bucks playing locally, then you have achieved success. Honestly you know your wife is not going to be down with you if you just up and quit your job and climb in the van and travel the country playing for the door money. Leaving her and the kids on their own while you are hoping from one seedy motel to the next.
- The Performing Musician/Singer-Songwriter – This would make up the bulk of artists out there. You have resigned yourself to the fact that the job is on the road. Performing on stage is your home, your safe place. You have worked on perfecting your music, stage show and your banter to connect with your fans. You know the location of every Waffle House on your circuit. These are the road warriors!
- The Songwriter – These are the creatives of the industry. They write the songs that make the whole world sing (yea, I know). As a songwriter you collect collaborators, industry connections, and more than likely live or did live in Nashville. You are constantly looking for ways to perfect your craft and find inspiration in different sounds and people. You are always out and about meeting and experiencing life and the world around you.
- The Hired Gun – These are the musicians that have perfected their instrument or instruments and have gained a reputation of being able to perform any music of any genre with an extreme proficiency. The Hired Gun often finds work in studios and get picked up for tours and fill ins for major acts. You got this way because you never turned down an opportunity to play. You take every gig you can get no matter what it pays. You are known by all the right people as dependable, easy to work with and a great player.
With the exception of the Weekend Warrior the benchmark for success as a musician is pretty simple. If you can achieve a dependable and sustainable income that allows you to pay your bills, live a respectable quality of life and put a few bucks away in the bank, you have achieved success! You have reached a point where you are using your music as a way to make a living and you are not dependent on a Day Job to make ends meet. You have created both passive and active income streams that come together to give you a livable income. Sure, it would be nice to reach that upper 2% of the industry and be a “Star”. There is always a chance that may happen while you are making a living as a musician and perfecting your craft.
This may sound a small goal, but don’t be fooled by this. You need to consider yourself a small business and conduct yourself accordingly. Operating a small business is not an easy task! It takes an enormous amount of time and effort. You need to constantly stay on top of the new ways to market and deliver your product. Always looking for new opportunities to create income.
The Best way to get started, is like any other small business. Create a business plan, set your goals learn to find multiple income streams that you can use to generate enough income to bring you to the point where you can quit the day job.
Now I can hear some of you out there screaming that you deserve to be a STAR! This is a lot like handing your friend a burger you cooked and claiming you should be the next McDonalds! Everybody can cook a good burger, but there are very few that learned what it takes to make a living from it. If stardome is your goal then make sure you have a really good day job (Hopefully not cooking burgers for Mc D’s). You are going to need it!