Making music your career is hard.
Making music your career is hard. If it were easy everyone would do it.
But realizing why it’s hard will help you maintain your sanity throughout the process. Primarily it’s hard for two reasons: 1) Quite simply, perfecting the art of playing an instrument is hard. It’s just not that easy to be great at playing an instrument, singing, or songwriting. 2) There is no guaranteed way to achieve fame or fortune.
If you go to medical school and become one of the greatest minds in medicine, you will very likely make a lot of money and become highly respected in the field of medicine.
If you go to a trade school and learn plumbing, become top in your class and go on to train under some of the great plumbers in your area, it is very likely that you will then become a successful plumber.
That is not the case with music. You can be one of the most brilliant musicians around, and still not make a lot of money or even be recognized as a great musician. Depending on your definition of success, that’s not to say you won’t succeed. Just becoming a brilliant musician should be reward enough. But if it’s money or fame you’re after, you will very likely not achieve either in music.
Music is the soul of society. You can’t predict or plan what that soul will want. If you happen to be one of the fortunate to feed society’s soul with your music, you are to be commended and should be forever grateful. However, very few get that opportunity.
Knowing this very fact will make your journey more enjoyable and realistic. It is very hard to have a career in music because no matter how good you are, it still may not happen.
So enjoy the music. Enjoy the process of making music. Make great music, and then go back and make it better. Have fun with the process. And please, by all means, make a ton of mistakes, just like I did (and still do). The mistakes are half the fun. Don’t get all wound up when you make a mistake. Just learn from it, and move on.
You’ve got to love music if you’re going to survive here. Seriously, search deep down and ask yourself that. If you don’t love music, you should choose another career path.
That’s what happened to me. Sure, I love music. No doubt. But more so, I love the marriage of music with money. When my band-mates were busy practicing their instruments or writing songs, I was more interested in making flyers for the next show, or booking the next show, or calling radio stations, or trying to get my band in the newspaper.
One day my drummer said to me, “Do you ever practice your bass? It seems like every time I talk to you you’re working on promoting the band. You should take some time to practice more.” Now that I look back on it, he may have been implying that I wasn’t very good at the bass, and I probably wasn’t. I wasn’t terrible, but I would have been a lot better had I practiced more.
He was right: if I wanted to be a professional musician, I needed to live for the music. Instead, I was living to promote the music.
I think we all like the dream, the idea, of being a professional musician. Who wouldn’t want to be a rock star? But look deep inside your soul. Do you live, eat, and breathe music? Or are you just starving for attention? As I’ve said, there are much easier ways to obtain fame or fortune outside of music.
If you live for music, truly live for music, you know it’s in your soul. Not fame. Not fortune. The pure joy of music. If that’s in your soul, then don’t give up. Enjoy the process and make music for the rest of your life. Doing that — feeding your soul — will make you successful in music. You still may not have a full time career in music, but you will have been successful.
Stay in touch with me. I made the transition from bass player to music industry guy because I love helping bands and musicians. Send me your stories and your questions. I’m here to help if I can.
You can find me at DaveRose.info or MyCousinRick.com.
I hope you’ll stop by to say hello.