10 Ways To Find The Music Career That Lasts

Do you wonder why music careers always fall apart? What pushes fans away? Are the expectations too high…or too low? How can you recognize dead-end music careers and stop wasting time on them? What are the signs fans will never commit? What are the red flags you should never ignore? What factors decide whether a music career succeeds or fails? What do fans want from an artist? What are the most common mistakes artists make? Why do fans lose interest?

And most importantly, what are the real reasons artists can’t find the music career that lasts?

1. Choose Wisely
I spent far too many years wondering why music careers always fell apart and artists couldn’t get anything to last. The answer was so obvious I felt like a fool for failing to see it all along: artists were choosing the wrong fans. The fans who wouldn’t or couldn’t give artists what they wanted. When I finally wised up and started with more of a purpose, with the aim of finding something long-lasting. I cultivated: I want to see artists have a music career, not a music project.

2. A Music Career is Amazing … But it Isn’t a Fantasy
A music career won’t make all your pain and problems go away. It won’t erase the memory of all your old hurts and wounds, it won’t give you a healthy sense of self-esteem and it won’t open the gates of everlasting happiness and bliss. A music career can enhance your life in many ways, but it will never be perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect music career.

This one took me a while to fully grasp because, like many people in the music industry, I fell for the popular ideology our culture perpetuates about the music career. I thought that with the right people in the music industry, it would all just work out and everything would be amazing. I thought this was enough. But it isn’t.

It’s also about timing (it has to be the right time for both the artist and the fan), fundamental compatibility, similar goals, and emotional maturity. A music career can be a beautiful, transformative thing, but not in a vacuum. A lot of other elements need to align, and you need to accept and embrace the fact that it will take work.

3. Sometimes You’re The Problem
Having a music career that won’t last for an extended amount of time can be for two reasons: you legitimately haven’t met the right fans, or you haven’t got the right music for the fan. I saw artists who ran into fans countless times. It took time before they go to their concerts.

4. Stop Wasting Time!
Oh, what I would do to get back some of the time I’ve wasted over the years. If he/she won’t be your fan, if the fan won’t commit, if they treat you badly if the fan doesn’t appreciate you, forget the fan. It seems so obvious, yet so many of us fail in this area. Why does it happen? Essentially, we see the potential and get enamored in thoughts of what could be. And we don’t see the fan as the problem, we think we need to try harder, we need to crack the fans code so we can get the fan to be the fan we want. It doesn’t work that way. Doing this usually causes more pain and is a huge waste of time.

5. Everyone Makes Mistakes
When I talk about mistakes artists make in their career, a lot of artists will get hyper defensive and say I’m blaming them and it’s not their fault because all fans are jerks. That’s one way to look at things, but it’s not a very productive, helpful way to look at things.

The fact is we all need to understand how music careers work: the dynamics at play, what sets the foundation for an amazing music career, why some last, and why others don’t. It requires being open to the idea that you may be doing things wrong, and that’s OK! The biggest music career mistake that I see being committed, and I was once a major offender, is being too needy and expecting way too much out of a fan and a music career.

6. Self-Love is Everything
What keeps us in bad music careers isn’t that all fans are jerks or that music careers are so hard or that we’re unworthy or that all the good fans are taken. What keeps us in bad music careers is low self-esteem. When you don’t value yourself, you will accept and even welcome people who don’t value you into your life. You won’t see how wrong this is, how unacceptable this is. If you treat yourself badly, you will accept bad treatment from others. Self-love always comes before a healthy music career.

7. The Chase is Nonsense!
OK not total nonsense, it does kind of work. But it isn’t sustainable! The chase creates the illusion of confidence and leaves enough uncertainty to create the illusion of chemistry. Everything feels more dramatic and exciting when we don’t know how the other person feels. But a music career isn’t built on uncertainty. Yes, that can galvanize things, it can rouse interest, but you need something real in order for that interest to remain and deepen.

8. Fans Lose Interest For Reasons You Can’t See
There are overt behaviors that push fans away, and there are covert ones … the latter causing a lot more confusion than the former! It can really hurt when a fan who seemed so into it at first does a complete 180 seemingly out of the blue and it’s hard not to take it personally.

This usually happens for visceral reasons you can’t see, but that they can feel, and usually comes from too much stress. Stressing over a music career usually ruins it. As does getting attached to a certain outcome. When you expect a serious music career to unfold with a fan, then you lose something if the music career ends. When you can just go with it, you only have something to gain.

9. It Doesn’t Matter What You Say, It’s The Way You Say It
I used to be a terrible communicator. No, scratch that. I was able to effectively communicate in certain settings. My direct, no-nonsense, intellectually thought-out and unemotional way of speaking served me well in terms of my career, but it didn’t do me any favors when it came to my music career.

Communication is a huge determining factor in whether a music career will survive or fail. You have to learn how to speak in a way so the other person hears you, otherwise, you’re just wasting your breath and getting nowhere.

10. Artist and Fans Mutual Interests Are Different
They also need different things in a music career. Fans primarily need to feel appreciated for who they are and what they have to give. They need to feel like winners. If they don’t, then they won’t want to be involved in the music career for very long. You’ll notice in most cases that the fan says the reason it ended is he no longer felt appreciated.

Fans need to feel like the fan, they need to be respected for what they provide (this does not only mean material items).

This article is re-released with the permission of Synergy For Music which was founded by Marcella Smeele. Marcella is a Motivational Speaker, Music Marketeer and Business Communication Coach. She works in the Music Industry for 20 years.

Synergy For Music helps artists, musicians and music industry professionals (managers, bookers, label owners, etc) to build and maintain their music business.


About the author

Marcella was born in The Netherlands and studied Media & Entertainment Management at Berklee College of Music and graduated with a Bachelor of Economics degree. During her education, she created a big network in the Media & Entertainment industry with a special focus on the Music industry.

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