If artists want to become successful in the music industry, there are many things they need to know and do. But even if they get all that right, they can prevent themselves from reaching big success by making critical mistakes along the way (and there are many potential mistakes one could make, when not being careful). After coaching and mentoring many musicians and bands seeking a career in music, the same patterns of false assumptions, problems and mistakes appear over and over again. Here are the top 10.
Mistake #10 – Artists not having a compelling image that is congruent with their music. Most musicians (and bands) severely underestimate the importance of their image. Yes, music is about ‘music’, but music business success is about a total package that includes music, image and visual stage show among other things that need to be fully developed in a congruent way.
Mistake #9 – Trying to ‘get your name out there’. Although this seems to be a main goal of most musicians and bands, it is the wrong approach to start with. Before trying to be seen and heard as much as possible, it is often more important to focus on ‘converting’ the people who hear and see the artists into becoming actual fans. This ‘conversion’ is the first key to their promotional success, NOT getting seen or heard as much as possible.
Mistake #8 – Believing that social media websites are the keys to online music promotion for musicians and bands. Social media websites are a tool. They are ONE piece of the online music marketing puzzle. Music industry companies (record labels, artist managers, booking agents, etc.) are far more interested in the popularity of THEIR website, not how many friends you have at MySpace, YouTube, Facebook or any other website that you do not own and control. If artists want to impress the industry with their band’s promotion, They need to build their website traffic.
Mistake #7 – Not investing enough time into building their music career. Most musicians spend most of their time on music, but put very little effort into the many other critical elements needed to make it in the music business. If they are already a talented musician, they should invest at least 50% of their time into starting or advancing their music career. If they are still developing their musical skills, they should still invest around 25% of their ‘music’ time into building a future music career.
Mistake #6 – Surrounding yourself with people who are negative, lazy and lack ambition. If an artist is very serious about becoming a professional musician and building a great career in music, then they should absolutely must surround themselves with like-minded musicians.
Mistake #5 – Having merely mediocre live performing skills. Many musicians, who are not yet in a good band, put off developing their live performing and stage presence skills. This is a big reason why talented musicians don’t get into really good bands that they audition for. Their music may be good, but a live ‘show’ requires more than great music. If people only wanted to hear the music, they would listen to them at home. Both fans and record labels want (and expect) to see a REAL show. Neglecting this area results in talented musicians and bands becoming quickly forgotten.
Mistake #4 – Focusing on increasing the ‘quantity’ of fans instead of the ‘intensity’ of their fans. The ‘number’ of fans they have should always be their secondary focus (not their primary one) if they want to become successful in the music industry. The fact is, it is not the number of ‘fans’ that matters most, it’s the number of FANATICS which will contribute more directly to their success (or lack of it). This is particularly true in the beginning of a band’s music career. Focus more effort on converting their existing fans into raving fanatics. Learn to do this and the number of your overall fans will increase through powerful word of mouth.
Mistake #3 – Not enough cash flow to support their music career. Like it or not, it takes money to build a music career. Even if other people/companies are paying for the record, tour support, merchandise, etc. Artists still need to have the freedom to pursue opportunities as they come. Sadly, many musicians miss opportunities because they can’t afford to take advantage of them. In addition to a decent income, they also need the flexibility of being able to take time away from that income source to go into the studio, go on tour, etc. That is why learning how to teach guitar is such a great way to achieve both if they learn how to become a highly successful guitar teacher.
Mistake #2 – Not enough depth in an artists music relationships. There’s an old expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In music this is often modified to, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” The truth is, it’s not about either. The most important aspect of connections within the music industry is how deep are the current relationships artists have now and will develop in the future. They don’t want to simply know people or be known, they want people who know them to have a real deep connection with so that they are always on the top of their mind when opportunities present themselves.
Mistake #1 – Having a fundamental misunderstanding about what record companies look for – and expect from new bands. This is a huge topic, but in a nutshell, it’s very useful to think of record companies like a bank that lends money to people or small businesses. Record companies make most of their decisions about whom they will work with and what the terms will be in much the same way that a bank will determine who they will loan money to and what the terms of the loan will be. Both record companies and banks basically want to see 3 things:
– How much value does the artist bring to the deal right now.
– How much risk does the artist bring with them right now.
– How much potential value and risk might they bring to them in the future after they invest in them.
If somoeone wants to buy a house, the bank wants to know a lot about the specific house they want to buy and EVEN MORE about them. Record companies are the exact same, they want to know about an artists music, their talent and their band, but they also care as much (or more) about THEM (and their band mates) as people. What about the artists makes a record deal a good or bad investment for them.