Why you have not succeeded in the music industry
By Gian Fiero
Well here you are. Still trying to succeed in the music industry. You're getting older and more frustrated with each passing year. Your friends and family don't ask what's up with your music career anymore but they are all secretly wondering when you are going to get a "real" job and let go of your showbiz fantasies. You told everyone in high school that you would be a "star" one day and some actually believed that you could actually "make it." That was years ago, so what happened?
What usually happens is SSD. What is that you say? That stands for Self Sabotage Disorder. In many cases, this illness which affects 8 out of 10 music artists is hard to detect because of the constant feigning of false confidence and
exaggerated accomplishments. To observers with an inexperienced eye (i.e. friends, family members and lovers), an immediate diagnosis is difficult to make.
This potentially fatal illness is characterized by the following symptoms: unrealistic expectations, personality disorders, poor work ethic, poor attitude, laziness, procrastination lack of follow-through, lack of commitment, lack of focus, lack of sacrifice, lack of a game plan, lack of progress, and yes, possibly, a lack of talent.
Those who suffer from SSD tend to be prisoners of their own petty personal issues which cripple and immobilize them. They are often so self-absorbed that they are not aware of their lack of movement, or how long they have been going around in circles. Their delusional view of reality prevents them from seeing their counterproductive ways, and thus prevents them from achieving the success that eludes them.
There is a cure for SSD. It's called being professional - which is all about working towards and achieving results. It starts with a reality check. This reality check can be administered RIGHT NOW, by honestly answering the following questions: Have you done the necessary work and made the necessary sacrifices that will ensure your success?
Success in any industry is an incremental process. Those with severe cases of SSD are ignorant to the process altogether and try to get through walls of challenge by banging their heads against them instead of analyzing the situation and developing a strategy to get over, go around, or get through them. Those with milder cases of SSD are aware of the process, but don't respect it. Artists with SSD don't make people crazy. People with SSD drive those who don't have it crazy (if you allow them to).
In every career counseling session that I conduct, I start it off with the two questions: What are you trying to accomplish? How will YOU define success in that endeavor? For some it means achieving fortune and fame (and the envy and adulation that comes with it). For the vast majority of artists it means being able to do what they love for a living: their music.
Regardless of what you are trying to accomplish, it's industry consensus that hard work and sacrifice is the key. Industry professionals will tell you that. Artists who have succeeded (in accordance to any definition). Those who succeed do not take one step forward and two steps back (try it and see how much forward progress you make); they make quantum leaps to get ahead.
These are continual steps that many people often don't see, but are large in the grand scheme of their overall success. Steps such as following through on phone calls. Showing up on time. Sending thank you notes. Continually striving to be better. Being reasonable and pleasant to deal with. In other words, being a professional. Unfortunately, many creative people limit their creativity to their art and they don't apply it to reaching their business objectives. This is a shame because so often in business, it's "creative thinking" that offers the remedy to many problems.
If you have suffered or you are suffering from SSD and have not achieved the success that you would like to have or feel you deserve, then it's time to re-dedicate yourself to achieving success in the music industry by starting over. That's right. Act is if you are just getting started TODAY. Cleanse your thoughts, adjust your attitude, and become accountable!
Everyday you should do something productive and/or constructive for your career. It can range from sending an email to a producer you want to work with, to creating a business plan to use as your new navigational tool. Either way, you must build momentum and make progress everyday, and you will, incrementally. Once you put this philosophy into practice you will discover that you have gotten out of the way of your success which will become both visible, and tangible in time.
© Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved.
Gian is a recognized authority on commercial music who is best known for his comprehensive and insightful music reviews on The Muse's Muse.com. He has been an influential factor in obtaining recording and licensing deals for music artists, and a guiding force in the careers of music producers during his 17 years of experience in the music industry. He has been a panelist, mentor, and moderator at many industry conferences, and a frequent guest lecturer on music business topics at San Francisco State University's Music Recording Industry Program; Oakland's High School for the Arts;
California Lawyers for the Arts; the U.S. Small Business Administration where he is the Entertainment/Music Business
Advisor for the San Francisco Bay Area.
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