What if we told you that there are certain telltale signs of an artist who’s probably gonna hit a dead end very soon and might not recover from it? Unless, of course, you look yourself in the mirror, get very honest about your habits, and actively fight to build the right mindset, behavior, perspective. The following 21 irrefutable signs are clear indicators of an artist who’s sabotaging his/her own career and will pay the consequences for it probably sooner than later.
21. You say ‘yes’ to every and any opportunity.
Whether you’re a people pleaser or have suffered from a crappy upbringing, saying ‘yes’ to everything and everybody WILL NOT turn your life around for the better like it did for Jim Carrey in Yes Man. While we do understand that you need as much exposure as possible and as many contacts as your phone can hold, accepting all that comes your way is a recipe for disaster. You will find yourself doing songs you don’t really enjoy with people you don’t really like, engaging in marketing campaigns that don’t really do much for your brand.
20. Or to any individual for that matter.
Just because someone looks a certain way or worked with certain people, it does not automatically qualify them as a good fit for you and your musical aspirations. If you say ‘yes’ to the first manager that shows up in your DMs throwing a contract your way, you’re doomed before you even started. Anything that involves a contract, is a legal responsibility on your side more than it is on the person who drafts the contract; so withhold your YES until you’re 100% sure it is the right move for your goals.
19. You don’t assess what’s been working and what has failed you.
If you’re one of those artists who just goes with their intuition for creating and releasing music WITHOUT implementing any metrics to analye previous expenditures and achievements, you’re throwing darts in the dark. By the time you get to 10 releases, you should have an idea of what your fans favor and what they don’t really vibe with. Your future releases should be adjusted according to past results.
18. You never draft real plans for your music.
Similar to 19 yet different, how do you ensure a single/ music video/ album you’ve sweated for will gain some traction? Do you just wing it? If you do, you’re bleeding money, time, and years that you will never get back. Labels work because they treat their artists’ careers seriously and with backed-up plans for every single thing they release. If Indie artists took the same approach, the very meaning of a label would near obsoletion.
17. You are not investing in your music business knowledge.
And the few times someone does get a good grasp of music marketing, they are behind in music legalities. You do have to know it all to be protected from losing in this industry. Note how we didn’t say ‘to succeed’ but ‘NOT to fail’. Success varies for every artist therefore no one can tell you if and when you will succeed, but you can most definitely take all the steps possible to avoid losing. A very large chunk of that virtual protection is either hiring a lawyer or familiarizing yourself with the basics of percentages, album credits, contracts, type of licenses, etc.
16. You are trying to save money by sacrificing the quality of the music you put out.
We do not know yet of an artist who’s made it by skimming on the quality of the songs they release. If anything, we know of super committed talents that have postponed getting new shoes or a new phone to pay instead for the professional mix and master of their newest project. It is as vital to have a high-quality sounding song for a music artist as it is having a knife for a surgeon. It’s a core component of a successful career so you can’t afford NOT to do it.
15. You like your comfort zone too much.
And that’s too bad because people get bored and your style gets old. If you have a loyal following at the local dive bar, great! But under no circumstance should you think to yourself that you’ve made it if you dream of actually going on tour one day. How are you gonna get to that tour? How will you build the catalog for it? How are you going to book the venues? What about the performing equipment? A dive bar, just like your comfort zone, won’t teach you what you need to know to take the next big step in your envisioned music career.
14. You never made the decision to approach your passion as a job.
Therefore you get to it when you feel like it, you go to the studio when you get bored at home, and you write very sporadically. This attitude is absolutely okay if you consider yourself a FAN of music and not a musician. There is an enormous difference between the two and you bet people who know, know. Want to run with the big boys and big girls? Run with your music like your life depended on it because your future does.
13. You don’t listen to other artists’ music.
There’s no soft way to put this. If you don’t intently listen to the music of other artists, you’re not made for the music industry. Society is a living organism. Society changes taste, beliefs, attitudes, and causes it believes in. And guess what? Entertainment is her sister. She too changes and quite often for that matter. If you don’t make it a purpose to digest what’s trending on TikTok, or at least what’s charting on Billboard Hot 100, you need to retire. You must stay in touch with the world around you to survive as a musician. Get too caught up in the past and soon your songs will sound outdated and possibly even corny, sexist, or enable-ist. These are not the easiest of times for anybody working in a creative field BUT you can soften the blow of having to change your music style quickly by turning yourself into a regular consumer.
12. Nor do you go to networking events, shows, festivals.
You could be the second Michael Jackson with an even more angelic voice but if all you do is stay in your room and refuse to go out, you are gonna grow roots. Get out of your head, rid of your poor self-confidence, your doubts, and dive knees deep into music-related activities and gatherings. You will learn so much, from so many people, and will considerably expedite the trajectory of your own purpose and goals.
11. You don’t have a quantifiable end goal.
How will you know when you’ve made it as a musician if you never took the time to identify as precisely as possible what it is that you want from your short time on Earth? It is hard to determine your progress in the gym without knowing more or less how much weight you want to lose. Equally, you must have some numbers written down and some ideas of what your accomplished goal looks like.
10. You think you’ll make it on your own.
And you won’t. You need support. You need a community of people who believe in you. You can’t be a talented asshole. That used to be cool back in the ’80s. Now, nice people rule. If you are not nice, boy are you gonna have a hard time coming to terms with the current reality. So no, you can’t burn all bridges thinking you’ll never need a soul in your life. You do. We all do. We all exist because two people got together and did stuff.
9. You think it’s all about luck.
The whole “luck is opportunity meeting preparation?” is as real as the two eyeballs in your skull. Sure, nothing ever gets achieved without a dose of luck, but… you are very much in charge of steering that wheel in your favor. Don’t make excuses for the lack of self-discipline that’s stalling your progress. It’s not bad luck. It’s you.
8. Or about connections.
What good are connections in high places when they don’t believe in your music? A thousand real, normal people who are fans of your words and your voice matter a million times more than an A&R for a major label who doesn’t even remember your name when he sees you.
7. You think you’re good enough as it is.
No one that withstood decades of changing trends ever thought of being a perfect musician or not needing to improve anymore. The legends? They constantly learn. The best-paid songwriters? Always study others. The uber-talented vocalists? Always train their pipes. The people capable of changing the world change themselves first. For the better that is.
6. You surround yourself with people who never achieved more than you.
And you should stop doing that. You will not grow or progress if you only know people who are in your same position. Something needs to change and that something is often someone.
5. You are not proactive in becoming a better person.
Self-development is woven directly with the approach you take in all other areas of your life. If you don’t care about your narcissistic tendencies and refuse to dig deeper, you’ll run away from your career problems, especially those that’ll be caused by yourself, and thus misjudge many critical moves. The way you are in one area of your life, will be, sooner or later, the exact same way you deal with the other aspects of yourself.
4. You don’t take care of your health.
Because you watched too many Hollywood movies that convinced you that somehow rockstars have steel livers and carbon-fiber lungs. Flash news! They don’t! Why do you think so many die young? With all due respect, but remember AVICII? Us too.
3. Your love life is on autopilot.
Weird one, ay? But who you choose to spend your mental energy on, says a lot about you. Unless you’re truly happily committed to someone special who believes in you, you do not have an excuse for staying in dangerous or toxic relationships. Having the wrong partner is the kiss of death for a successful music career by any metric.
2. You don’t do anything outside music.
Because you can’t fill your cup in the same bowl where you empty it. You need to recharge your mental and physical batteries rather often. For that to happen, you need to do things unrelated to music. Join a book club, go traveling, try fishing. As a matter of fact, the more your other interests take you out of the studio and out of the house, the better for your overall health.
1. You resist change.
And a lasting music career is nothing BUT constant change. While each of the 20 telltale signs is decisive in your success or failure as a musician, resisting change is sincerely the worst thing you could do to sabotage your future. It is equally the number one thing you should consistently work upon and strive for. Strive for being so okay with unexpected changes that you welcome them and are rather grateful for the new challenges in your life as a musician. Without bumps, naked feet become weak.
Blue Rhymez Entertainment ©2022
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