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Home » Music Business » What Are You Doing Today to Help Your Career Tomorrow?


What Are You Doing Today to Help Your Career Tomorrow?

  -  Member Local 78 (Syracuse, NY)

I found an interesting book, that has been out of print for some time, in a secondhand bookstore the other day. It’s called “You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought.” Even though it was written for the general public, it really makes sense for musicians. Anyone who’s ever had an instrument in their hands and gone out and played it for money knows what I’m talking about. Negative words, statements, and thoughts can run rampant in the music business. They can kill a career. They can destroy dreams.

They come from club owners:

  • “Are you crazy charging that much?”
  • “Your sound will never bring in a crowd.”

Or from friends and loved ones:

  • “Get yourself a real job.”
  • “Playing music is not a living.”

From other musicians:

  • “There’s no work around here.”
  • “You’ll never make it big.”

And how many times have you said to yourself:

  • “I just don’t get the breaks.”
  • “Other musicians get all the work.”
  • “If I only had a better instrument.”

I was sitting in a bar listening to a great group a couple of weeks ago. The keyboard player came and sat with me during one of the breaks. Here’s what he said:

“Everyone tells me I’m the best in the area but the phone doesn’t ring.”

“I can’t stand working with these guys.”

“No one wants to pay anything decent in this town.”

When he said to me that he had great equipment and could play as good as any major name in the business but couldn’t get any work, I turned to him and said, “So, exactly what are you doing about it?” He said, “Huh?” I said, “What are you doing to turn things around for yourself?” He said, “There’s nothing that I can do.” So I said, “OK, it’s over. You believe it, I’m convinced, maybe you can sell cars. Update your resume. Look into Amway. Deliver pizzas. Give it up.”

Well, that knocked him back a couple of steps. While he was stammering, thinking about what to say next, I asked him what his dream gig would be. He said, “Playing Las Vegas, backing up major shows.” I asked him if that’s what he really wanted to do, who has he contacted, did he talk to anyone in the Las Vegas local, did he think about moving, did he network with any casinos or clubs out there? He said, “No, it would never work; I couldn’t do it.” So I said, “Then don’t tell me you can’t, tell me you don’t want to.” And therein lies the truth. We become a prophet of our own destiny when all the “can’ts” “won’ts,” and “never’s” start to monopolize our brains.

Here are a few tips from one of the chapters in the book. “Hang around people who have a positive direction in their life. They are rewarding to be around. Hanging around with people who are addicted to negative thinking can be a drag. They feed you negativity and criticize every positive move you make.” If this describes anyone in your band, you might want to assess whether they might be holding you and your career back. Fill your life with people who applaud your positive thoughts, feelings, and actions. Surround yourself with people who encourage you toward better things and achieving your goals. Don’t let negative thinking sabotage your dreams and plans.

When things start to go in the dumper, when the gigs aren’t coming in, when the money isn’t as good as you want, you have two choices:

1) You can moan, whine, complain, and tell everybody how bad things are.

or 2) You can do something about it.

If you select option number one, you might consider packing up your horn, keyboard, guitar, or drums and getting out of the music business. If you select the second, you can start by finding some uplifting people to talk to. Do some things you haven’t done before to bring excitement into your life. This doesn’t mean going to a Dale Carnegie class and shouting, “I’ve got enthusiasm!” It does mean stepping back and taking a good look at what you can do about changing things to make your music career go in the direction you want. It might mean moving. It might mean finding a different niche. It might mean doing some serious marketing. It might mean finding another group of musicians to hang around with. It might mean a serious attitude change.

It doesn’t mean griping to the world about it. You see, if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten. Nothing will change. And you will drag everybody down at the same time. One thing about telling people your problems is that 90% of the people don’t care, and the other 10% are actually glad you have them.

The best thing is to take a step back, come up with a game plan to make things better, work a little harder at taking your music career to another level, and good things will happen. It does take a little luck, but the harder you work, the luckier you will get. So get that new CD out. Update your press kit. Add to your mailing list. Nothing can hold you back. You can do it, if that’s what you really want.







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