By Cari Cole
Musicians and music artists are a unique breed. Besides being creative right brainiacs with bigger brains than regular folk (that’s what they say), musicians live lives pretty much solely of passion — and a big tolerance for the salty atmosphere they usually get tossed around in.
From desensitized club owners or booking agents who make money from their efforts, but act like they’re doing you a favor; to trying to survive plummeting royalties from streaming; to protecting yourself against industry con artists waiting to prey on your vulnerabilities; to holding themselves back because they’re too afraid to sign away anything — being a musician is not for the faint of heart.
And usually under the surface — in between the good moments — there is a rippling pond of crushing anxiety, crippling self-doubt and judgement, and often someone who is struggling in isolation — working through it all alone.
Learning and navigating the complex music industry while keeping up one’s stamina up against the rejection, the insurmountable odds, for a long enough time to succeed are requirements… But how many succeed? If you’re reading this, I know you have that kind of staying power. My fiercest cubs… you got this.
Over 30 years of working with artists (and being one myself) I have found these perspectives to help you not only survive but thrive ;).
1. Anxiety Over Career
It’s normal to be anxious in today’s modern industry of music. Lots of twists and turns — and they keep on coming. But it’s normal to be anxious about a career you can’t control or guarantee the outcome. Just keep one foot in front of the other and reach out to your local community of artists and mentors. And don’t spend much time thinking about the music business negativity.. stay positive. Because no matter what happens, you can’t escape being an artist. It’s not going to go away, no matter how hard you try to hide it away. So you might as well believe in yourself and give it everything you’ve got ~ do it well, regardless of the current terrain.
Solution: Meditate. It’s proven, meditation quells anxiety, unless you’re doing the wrong kind. Transcendental Meditation is the best technique out there ~ scientifically reduces cortisol and anxiety in boatloads – I do it every day and love it! (and so do a bunch of my artists!)
Also, consider joining a serious music mastermind. Once you experience what it’s like to have the support of fellow artists who are further than you, who want to help you, alongside an experienced mentor, you’ll never want to leave! We’ve got one starting up soon and already have some amazing artists enrolled. We’d love to have you! Set up a phone consult here.
2. Waves of Self-Doubt
This is a big one and a pretty much universal one for most artists. It’s the nature of being an artist that makes you doubt, makes you question yourself. You wouldn’t be a good writer without that. So don’t think you shouldn’t feel it, or that if you were more confident you wouldn’t be wracked with sweaty palms everytime you release a record. Just know it’s a part of you, and do your best not to let it completely derail you. Or if it does, don’t let it keep you down for long. Famous artists fall into patches where they derail so why shouldn’t you. It’s part of the adrenaline of your work… buck up!
Solution: Self-talk is the best way to basically talk yourself out of it. Focus on the things you do well, the love from your fans and friends (and fellow artists), the support from your people. Also don’t linger in the doubt. Nothing gets you out of it faster than being with others who support you. And remember, everything is better in the morning. This too shall pass.
3. Working in Isolation.
Artist’s spend long hours on their own, and as a result they tend to isolate by trade. Nothing wrong with that. But remember, careers aren’t created by yourself. You need others to help you grow your career.
Solution: When you can, reach out to connect. Connect to other local artists and reach out for help from people that can actually help you. We’re here! Doing so will absolutely, without question, shave years off your climb.
Add to That, Surviving in a Tough Market
You survive in a tough market, by keeping your eye on the ball and your ears open for opportunities. Just staying up to date on music industry news could have you committing “music suicide”. Like watching the regular news every night, it can easily depress you. It’s important to know what’s going on, but remember the media like to hype things and make them sound worse than they are ~ so you feel the fear. They rely on that tactic to keep you watching. It’s an addiction. There’s always something to be concerned about, but don’t let that stop you from creating. Besides, it’s going to turn around, and don’t you want to be ready when it does??
Solution: Don’t respond emotionally to media tactics — instead, keep your eye on YOUR ball. Look around at what you can do to improve YOUR situation and your communities situation. Co-writing is a good habit to adopt. All you need is one song (well in this market, maybe two or three … but don’t put all your eggs only in your artist basket. Have lots of baskets!
Thankfully, most musicians I have ever met, have a special blend of optimism and hope that helps them press on regardless. And no matter how low it goes at times, us musicians all know, how much music is worth it. I’ve seen more artists creating success lately, regardless of the market. The world has always been crazy, we just hear about it faster now. Dig in your heels, hold your head up and go GET IT!!
Looking for Attention from today’s Music Industry Tastemakers? Join our live free training and find out How to Get Them Looking for YOU! (without selling your soul…) Get the low-down, the real deal on what it takes to get serious attention from industry tastemakers and talent scouts — and what you might be doing right now that’s actually sending them running in the opposite direction or passing you by.