I released my first album at the sweet age of 16. I recorded 4 songs with my then voice teacher in the after hours of the music school I went to, the piano playing in one room with a mic, and me in the hallway at the opposite end. I sang my heart out for that album.
I didn’t sell a single one.
Fast forward a few years and this time I was recording in a local basement studio. I saved up all my pennies and had written 7 original songs. At the time, I was sure this was going to be it.
How many did I sell? A few dozen.
Rinse and repeat this cycle for years as I would write and record albums, convinced that THIS would be the time I struck it rich, the world would recognize my genius, and I could quit my job, leave school, and be famous. Or something. I wasn’t too sure of the details, but I knew it would be different.
Except that never happened like I thought. Which makes you and your family and friends start to ask questions. Doubt begins to live in your mind, questions of if this doesn’t work what next. You try to find reasons of why your songs didn’t sell.
Maybe you’re missing something. Maybe you need more training? Something else has to be holding you back: time, money, bad songs.
Maybe you’re ready to throw in the towel because it hasn’t worked before and you don’t think it will work again.
And maybe you’re wondering if there are other musicians out there who feel the same way. Because you can’t be the only one, right?
Today, let’s go through these 7 reasons one by one.
1. What if people don’t like what I have to say?
Making music is so personal. We write and create about things happening to us, in our world, and everything in between. And as if that wasn’t scary enough, we also become quite attached to our little melodies.
So the notion of putting our little music song babies into the world via streaming, music videos, or even just playing them live can run the risk of people not liking what we create. Heck, people could even hate them. If you think that big super stars of present and past weren’t nervous before a new song is dropped, you would be dead wrong.
We are nervous because we have poured so much of ourselves into these creations and hope that they do well in the world.
But this does not go unrewarded. For just as certain that people will dislike your songs, you are just as likely to find people who like your songs. Heck, even love them. Get them tattooed on their bodies, walk down the aisle to them, and listen to them as the soundtrack to their lives.
That is the power of what we can create. Music creates reactions in people good and bad. We hope for the good and learn to ignore the bad. Because those bad reviews don’t matter. What you need to focus on is creating music that is authentic to what YOU have to say and share it with the people who love it.
2. What if my music isn’t anything new?
With music, it seems like it’s all been done before. Why do we need *another* love song? That band has already written about this political climate, do I need to repeat what they said?
It’s not about the fact that someone has already made a song. What matters is that YOU haven’t made a song like that before.
It’s not just about what you say but how you and only you say it.
What we have is the ability to take our personality, writing style, music style, sweet guitar solos, jaw dropping piano riffs, and stand still lyrics to make a song that is original to us.
The more authentic you are to your true self and true music style, the more you will write music that is new and from a new viewpoint, which attracts more fans who love what you have to say!
Which makes this next point all the clearer:
3. What if my competition is better?
Contrary to what the Grammy’s, Oscar’s, or any other award show will tell you, I believe that there is No Such Thing as a “better” musician.
You can say things like, this song was streamed more often, this album sold more than others. But who is it that decides what “better” is?
Who are they?
The answer to this question lies in how you responded to one and two on this list. What you have to say in your music matters and you are so important because you are the only one capable of saying it.
What you have to say in your music matters and you are so important because you are the only one capable of saying it.
4. This takes up too much time
Music oftentimes falls to the side or gets cast as a hobby while we are out there working a job to pay rent and the bills and save enough for that elusive retirement. Your days are packed, running around, and next thing you know you are too tired to make music and try to promote your songs.
Let me clear something up: we are all busy.
Now let me add something that I learned from dating a long time ago: if someone wants to spend time with you, they will make the time to spend it with you.
Think of your music in that way. If you love your music and want to move from this being a weekend hobby to a part time or even full time job, you will find the time and make the time for this to happen.
5. I just don’t GET the business side of things …
Do you want to know the number one reason why that first album of mine was a total flop?
I was so focused on the creative side of music, that I forgot all about the business.
This is called the music business after all! Two sides of the same coin.
But don’t sell yourself short. You can figure out this industry.
Read some blog posts, make a list or two or seven about what you want to accomplish, establish your goals for the month and the year, reach out to other musicians in the area and ask how they tackle the business side of things. Buy some business books. Or if you don’t want to do all that yourself, hire a music business coach to walk you through step by step to figure out how you can take control of your business career.
Start anywhere. Really anywhere. Because the anywhere that you start will make you miles ahead by the end of the month or year.
6. I’m not good enough
Maybe you think that your music skills aren’t the best. Maybe you wish that you could write better lyrics.
Like what we just talked about, go out and learn. Don’t give into those moments of pride and say “I can do it I don’t need help”. If it’s something that you want to get better at, go out and find someone who does what you want to do well, and ask how they got there.
And don’t forget the most undervalued method of learning: getting out there and doing it for yourself.
7. What if I fail?
This is the clutch. This is what I hear from musicians time and time and time again. What if I fail? What if my music fails?
Do you want to fail? No! It’s totally against what we like to do! No one wants to have their music rejected or hated or ignored.
So in that case, maybe it’s better to play it safe and never make any music at all. If you don’t try you can’t fail?
Wrong. Because even in the not trying, you are failing to live up to your potential. You are failing on your promise to yourself to try to make music because you love it and you are letting down all the potential fans out there, waiting for you to put into words the thoughts and feelings they have trapped inside of them.
So, you see, you can’t fail. So stop worry about it and get out there and do your thing.
Mindset is one of the most important things for being a musician that we need to talk more about. Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, let’s focus on what you can accomplish. Rather than complaining that other band is better than you, support your fellow musicians. Call them up and invite them to your shows. Go to their shows. Learn from each other and share what has and hasn’t worked for you.
With that said, what do you think? Leave a like if this resonated with you and drop a comment below for which of these hits home with you most. If you’ve fought your way past these thoughts, what was it that helped you move beyond them? I’d love to hear all about it.