As a musician you often feel that what you are doing with your musical career doesn’t compare to what others are achieving. Other bands often seem to gain fans more quickly, get better gigs and get more attention from the press. It’s very easy to lose your motivation. One thing to bear in mind is that so much success in the music industry is down to sheer perseverance and not giving up whatever happens. Here are some ways of thinking about what success is for musicians that should help to keep you motivated:
- Don’t judge your own success by the standards of others – Worrying what other bands are doing is a guaranteed way to demotivate yourself. If you see another band gaining more fans and getting better gigs don’t get depressed about it. Follow your own path and build your own audience, don’t worry what others are doing, you don’t have time to waste on that.
- Be realistic – Is your ambient death/prog album really going to outsell Lady Gaga? The world would probably be a better place if it did but if the music you play is only destined for a small audience don’t be dissapointed when this is what happens. Sometimes remarkable things can happen and odd and interesting music does end up in the mainstream (see the recent case of Jon Gomm), just don’t expect it.
- Make a plan – Write down some goals and put together a bit of a plan, some things you can make happen. Tick them off as you achieve them, at least this way you can see you are making progress.
- Don’t do it for the money – The music industry is a poor way of earning serious money, the effort you have to put in versus the amount you make is really high in the early days and there are no guarantees you’ll make anything decent financially. If you don’t love the music you are unlikely to have the passion to put the work in to make it, it’s really hard work. People can tell if you are motivated just by cash, fans aren’t idiots.
- Set small goals but make them time bound – So perhaps aim for an extra 20 Facebook fans a month or an extra 100 Twitter followers a month. Achieving small goals reguarly will keep you motivated rather than trying to change the world overnight.
- What is success to some is failure to others – It’s all about context. A massive seller for an underground band would be the same as a disaster for a pop act. Selling a few thousand records can be an album of the year in some genres.
Great music, hard work and a great live show will pay off in the end, even if you sometimes feel nothing is happening. Keep going and eventually you will find your audience.