This is part 4 of a four part series on treating your career in the music business or as a professional musician like an entrepreneur.
Click here for Part 1 – Being A Music Industry Entrepreneur
Click here for Part 2 – Goal Setting in the Music Industry
Click here for Part 3 – Craft A Plan
Have you noticed that when some people talk about a person who’s become a success they create a lot of reasons for their accomplishments that make their achievements seem unique to their situation? We hear about artists that achieve “overnight success,” or “well-connected” producers that get a hit song on a record. Well guess what? Most of those phrases and stories are complete B.S. It’s like going to a movie that’s “based on a true story” and believing that every last detail occurred.
There is no such thing as an overnight success. People put in TONS of hard work to get where they are, and then probably twice as much to STAY where they are. They didn’t do just one thing or have one good connection unique to their situation. These people have struggled, strived, and probably have made just as many bad decisions as good ones. Today we’re going to focus on the final area of the Music Business Entrepreneur Series and it directly relates to the above. I’m talking about when people use a phrase like:
I could totally do that if I had _________ .
If it weren’t for _________, I could do that too.
You’ve heard it a million times. You’ve probably said it yourself. I used to do it often. I’d make excuses about how my situation wasn’t fair or how much more talented I was than someone else, I just didn’t have fill-in-the-blank-with-an-excuse-that-allowed-me-to-not-work-hard.
First, let’s identify some key items that we usually “don’t have” when we talk about achieving goals:
- Special Knowledge
As you look at this list, you can pretty much see how most things we’d come up with would fit into one or more of these broad categories. The interesting thing is that all of these are 100% achievable. There is no reason why you can’t make money, meet people, or are not able to acquire whatever knowledge you need to complete a goal.
Money – Duh, get a job. Even if you’re a barista at Starbuck’s, waiting tables, or pumping gas. Obviously the more you get paid, the faster you will have resources. However, there is NOTHING stopping you from saving at least 10% of whatever you make except yourself. Already have a job? Cool, go get another one. I’m dead serious. Money is probably the most over-rated resource out there. On top of that, people constantly try to get bargains or get stuff cheap. Why not make more money instead? If you need $5,000 to be able to create an album or EP, you should be able to get that in under 6 months if you start busting your butt.
Contacts – This can take a little longer, but realistically you should be able to add to your network relatively quickly. I talk more in depth about in The Low Hanging Fruit Series. But the long and short of it is if you’re effectively talking about your current projects to the people you interact with frequently, you’ll be setting yourself up to create and capitalize on opportunities. Those opportunities can result in money, more contacts, or special knowledge (or any combination thereof). In fact, I would rate this category as the most effective way to advance your career.
Special Knowledge – First, you’d be surprised at how little ‘special knowledge’ matters. Or for that matter, what little conventional education most successful people have. Typically you can find someone who has knowledge to partner with, or pay someone to apply their special knowledge to your situation. However, there also tons of benefits of being self-sufficient or to at least know enough to be able to make educated decisions. Typically you can buy books, courses, or seminars and educate yourself. The nice part about courses or events is that you can meet other people, thereby increasing your contacts.
When it comes to resources in general, you need to remember to replace your excuses with one simple phrase:
How CAN I make this happen?
Once you give your brain a sensible question instead of some dumb-ass excuse ( “My high-tops aren’t sparkly enough!”) you’d be surprised at what it comes up with. It will definitely take more time than you might anticipate, and it will DEFINITELY require A LOT of hard work, but at least you’ll be working towards a dream instead of resigning yourself to complacency. If you’re waiting for the perfect pair of sneakers to complement your wardrobe for a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with THE ONLY person that can help you learn the secrets of music licensing – well, you’re a jackass.
Careers don’t develop because of one unique event or situation. It may SEEM that way, but it’s NEVER the case.
Work 5 times harder than you are now. Meet more people on purpose. Read more books about what you want to do.
Action Steps: Write down the following phrase –
“I would be able to ________ if I only had ________ .”
Try to come up with 3 ways to complete that phrase with various elements. Now try this one 3 times –
“I can’t do ________ because ________ .”
Now, after each of the above, add the following –
“…but if I had to come up with a way to get/do it, I could try ________ , ________ , or ________ .”
Fill in the blanks with as many words/phrases as you like. Finally, for the rest of the week, listen for excuses that you create, or that others create for themselves. Then try saying “wait, that’s not true. How CAN I make that happen?”
You just might surprise yourself (and I hope you do).