It was an ecstasy because it was an adventure; it was an adventure because it was an opportunity. The goodness of the fairy tale was not affected by the fact that there might be more dragons than princesses; it was good to be in a fairy tale. GK Chesterton

How many times have you heard some well-meaning person say that you have a better chance of winning the lottery than making a living from your music? Statistics actually are:
1 in 14 million winning the lottery
1 in 1 million struck by lightning
5 in 100 Artists actually make a living from their music

Like so much misinformation out there, the fear of the improbable keeps people in their tidy little box where it is safe.  It an understatement that destiny plays a significant role in our success or failure as an artist.  How many artists have constantly stated that fact in their interviews and trumpeted it from their stages – Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, John Lennon…………the list goes on and on.

Of course, it is a common fact that the average person has some desire to be famous or at least be noticed in this world. There seems to be no end to pipe dreams, as a music consultant, I think I have seen my fair share of these delusions. Thankfully, I have also seen a select few that actually rise to the top.  Even though it is unpredictable, there seems to be common thread in these success stories: talent that is very unique, humility, and a very strong work ethic.

You could say that they also believe in themselves, but that can also be a very weak argument. Even the untalented seem to believe in themselves. All you have to do is watch the try outs for American Idol or any talent contest out there.

Most aspiring musicians receive a lot of advice from friends and family about the best approach to take with building their music career.  Among the many things suggested, is the idea of having a backup plan.  Many people give advice about “the need to have something to fall back on in case the music career doesn’t work out” or “a Plan B”. Typically, musicians are encouraged to go to school and get a degree in something they can easily find a job in, and do music on the side, in their “free time.”

I am not saying that having a backup plan is foolish, matter of fact, I think it is a good idea, but to build a career in something that is music related, even if it a little off from your ultimate goals. Eric Clapton was a studio guitar player for the Monkey’s, Jimmy Hendrix was a session guitarist for many R&B bands, Glen Campbell was also a session guitarist who played on many hit records
including The Beach Boys before he launched into a very successful solo career.

The most successful musicians arrange their backup plan or Plan B around their Music career goals (Plan A).  This requires real ambition and courage, and it is based on thinking about how “to win”.  This also requires you to think how you can integrate Plan B with your present and future life as a professional musician.

The key is actually studying how the music business works. Understanding it will greatly help you with designing the most effective strategy for reaching your goals in the fastest period of time.  Building a successful, long term career takes a lot of focused effort and dedication.  The more you understand about the music business, the easier it will be to design the kind of backup plan that will help you reach your goals.

Also, be careful about taking advice from people who may have great intentions, but lack knowledge and experience about how the music industry works.  Very often, our friends and family, with the very best intentions at heart, attempt to give us advice on what to do to “make it”.  However, if you pay attention, you will notice that this advice has a common theme, which is “here is what you must do in order not to lose”.  Very rarely do you get advice about how “to win”!

To make matters worse, although your friends and family may have the best intentions in their heart, most of the time, they simply aren’t qualified to give advice about the music business.  It will be similar to you asking your brother who is a plumber (for example) about how to cure a disease, or asking your uncle who is a carpenter (for example) about how to solve a legal problem.  It doesn’t matter that these people have your best interest at heart.  If they don’t know what they are talking about (in a particular subject), they are not likely to give helpful advice.

If you truly want advice that works and if you want to learn the strategies of how to reach all of your music career goals, you need to find a mentor who you can rely on for effective advice.  This means learning from someone who has already done what you want to do.

Credit goes to Tom Hess, music career mentor, for some excerpts to this post.

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