You know you’ve got something, or you wouldn’t be jumping through the hoops that you are on an hourly, daily, yearly basis, to get the job done. You watch artists on TV and listen to their streams on Spotify, and you know you’re just as capable, just as good, and that you could be there too.
Matter of fact, you know it. And so does your tribe.
And you’re right.
But there is one big thing holding you back.
And it’s NOT money or time or connections (although those things matter).
It’s not who you know or how talented you are.
It’s something else.
It’s more than confidence because on your good days you’ve got lots of it.
It’s more than motivation because, on your good days, you’re truckin’ up that hill on fire.
It’s a little voice.
In your head.
That keeps you at the whipping post. That speaks up without your permission at the most inopportune times saying stuff like “who are you kidding?”, or “you’re throwing your money away”, or “what if this never happens?”, or “you don’t stand a chance in hell of making it.”
But that’s what most music artists are burdened by. And because you’re not 1000% sure (who is?) that voice inside your heads wins. Because it is too loud and talks way too much.
Look, every single creative being who makes art has these voices. Every filmmaker, screenwriter, actor, actress, author, dancer, comic, painter, singer, band, musician, music producer — you name it, they’ve got that doubt. And worse, no one believes them at first. Many are laughed at and rejected for years, even decades before breaking through. They’ve got to push up that hill past the signs of failure too. It’s not unique to you, so stop thinking it is. Because thinking it is your fault somehow, or that you’re not good enough, will steal every moment of believing from you. It’s the kind of thinking that punches you in the stomach, knocks the wind of your sails — and you need every kilometer of wind you can get to reach your destination.
Now I’m not saying that this is easy, ‘cause it’s not. Last night in our Artist Success Circle one of our artists who is getting ready to do her first album innocently asked, “so what can I expect in terms of return on my investment?” And I told her very honestly that “you can’t expect a return on your investment. Music is not a turn-key business like entrepreneurship.” That’s why the return when you do make it, is so rewarding. However, with skillful thinking, a solid strategy and plan, and lots of help and expert guidance, independent artists do make a living to the tune of $50K to $250K from touring, merchandise and licensing. It can happen. It is achievable. There are tons of artists out there doing it. They have a small dedicated tribe (small meaning 10,000+ devoted fans) and they’re living their version of the dream. There are some artists that land a lucrative licensing deal with a company that’s got legs in the business and reach those figures without touring and merch — but it’s more of the exception. It takes work to find that company that can get you there. And —– your music and recordings must be exceptional, broadcast-quality, and compelling enough for people trip over themselves to get to.
And some artists win big as we all know. But they started out the same as you. Everyone starts from zero.
Here are my top tips for getting that voice to simmer down inside your head, so you can go about the process of climbing that mountain with more wind beneath your wings.
1. If she/he can do it, I can do it.
“If she/he can do it, I can do it” is your new mantra. Reprogram your mind to think this way. You have everything to lose if you cave to negative thinking.
2. Don’t believe the voice in your head.
Unless you truly want to throw in the towel. Because if you’re going to pursue your dream and keep listening to that voice fill you with doubt, it’s like dragging a ball and chain. How are you going to win with that?
When that voice pops ups (‘cause it will) — tell it to quiet down. That’s it’s not helping you and you need every ounce of strength you can get.
3. Get feedback.
Don’t hold back because you are unsure about your music. Invest in getting feedback, the kind that will catapult you forward. Not all feedback is created equal. Find mentors who know their stuff.
4. Learn how the business works, and how to get in it.
The indie revolution has been a godsend for artists. However, it has also been a downfall because artists started doing everything on their own. You have to get in the business for things to happen. Standing on the outside will keep you on the outside, looking in.
5. Put some skin in the game.
The most important thing you do if you want to be successful is to do it all the way. A half-assed attempt will give you half-assed results. Great projects are built with forethought, deep thought, and skill — over time and are not rushed. The only way to break the mold is to create a great piece of art (one that everyone thinks is great, not just friends and family) and to create a compelling brand — one that stands up to any top brand out there. This takes, time, ingenuity, skill, money, forethought, feedback, tweaking (lots), planning and strategy. Don’t leave home without it. You won’t fly the coop.
I hope this helps you work on your music business the smart way!