17 Things I Learned From The Music Business

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17 Things I Learned From The Music Business … and about life.

  1. It’s as much (or more) about knowing what NOT TO DO, as knowing what TO DO. Unfortunately that kind of knowledge comes from doing some things the wrong way and making mistakes! Some people call it “experience”.
  2. You can’t measure all your success by money … but you still need to earn money. (Stick around to read #17)
  3. Under promise and over deliver! Always!
  4. EVERY song or record you personally love and are involved with IS a hit … until you release them.
  5. It isn’t some BIG break or some BIG stage that leads to success … it’s the LITTLE THINGS you do every day, every week, every month … year after year … that make a person an “overnight sensation”. I know a few today .. I met them 20 years ago when they started …
  6. Most everyone has advice on how you can do what you do better or how to “make it work”, but many have little to no experience doing what you do. I’m not saying to not take advice … just take it from a credible source. The old adage comes to mind “don’t take financial advice from broke people”.
  7. Be original, be yourself, no one can be YOU better than YOU. (Read this “Be Original” post)
  8. It’s not what you know but who you know … yes there is an element of truth to this. So make as many friends as you can and be kind to everyone … whether you think they can help you or not. You don’t know where THEY will be in 5 years.
  9. “The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” – James Baldwin. This applies to the music business, to politics, to church, to being a social worker … to anything you pursue with passion. You WILL see some ugly!
  10. You can learn something new no matter what you accomplish or how old you are … if you’re willing.
  11. Be Positive, Be Compassionate, Be Kind & Be Humble. Every successful person I’ve met, who has remained successful … had these 4 traits.
  12. “A man’s GOT to know his limitations” – Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood character). Know what you’re good at and what you’re not. Know your limits! If it’s not your talent or area of expertise … proceed with caution … or go find a guy who can do the job.
  13. Timing is everything … this is always true for drummers. For the rest of us, it’s pretty important as well. Unfortunately you don’t always have control over timing. Sometimes you get lucky … and sometimes #1 applies here … you learn when the timing is NOT right. Learn when to talk, when to listen. Learn when to make a move and when to stay where you’re at. Or at least become a really good educated guesser!
  14. Don’t allow yourself to become jaded … read #9 again. Try to have some fun and enjoy the ride, don’t lose your passion.
  15. Set boundaries … you need them and so do others.
  16. There are some people you ARE supposed to work with, some people you’re NOT supposed to work with, some people you HAVE to work with and some people you CAN’T work with. Learning the differences can reduce your level of stress and elevate your chance for success.
  17. It is called the “MUSIC BUSINESS” for a reason. Which is actually sort of an oxymoron like “honest politician”. The further you pursue music … the more you find yourself working in “business”. Ask the person who loved the artistry of cooking how they felt after they opened a restaurant. You have to balance the art of music with the business of entertainment … and it’s not always 50/50 … at the end of most days you will feel like you worked more on business than on music. I suspect this is true with most professions or careers.