The 3 commitments to become a successful musician
Let’s face it: it’s almost impossible to make enough money to get by as a musician. However, there’s an important word in that last sentence: “almost”. And just because it’s almost impossible doesn’t mean it is impossible. In fact, there are plenty of musicians who get by just fine in their musical careers. Aside from the obvious (I hear Beyonce’s not exactly worried about where the next meal will come from), there are all sorts of other less well-known people who make a living out of music.
Whether it be through gigging with a function band, DJing at corporate events, writing jingles for your local radio station, composing library music, busking, or many other potential musical careers, there are masses of people who do in fact manage to keep the wolf from the door while spending their working hours doing something they love.
However, if you want to be one of these people, you need to be serious about your music. It’s no good sitting around dreaming about headlining the Barrowlands; you need to take active steps to make this a reality. And to do that, you need to do your very best to become as good as you can possibly be at your chosen instrument. Anything less than complete commitment will result in failure for all but the very luckiest out there (and yes, there are some people who are that lucky).
We’d say a good place to start is to make the following three commitments to yourself as a musician. If you can commit to these regular activities, you are 273% more likely (*number completely fabricated) to be able to spend your life blissfully pursuing your dream, rather than finding yourself in fifty years’ time sitting in a dank office wishing you’d made the effort.
Commitment 1: Play your instrument every day
So you play the guitar, do you? How often do you play? Unless there is literally no way to play the guitar in any given day (you don’t have access to one, you have been locked in a cellar with your hands bound together etc.), you should play it every day. And don’t see this as practising (though you may want to practise some scales if you feel so inclined), it’s just playing. And playing should be easy. It’s what you love, right? If this seems like a chore, maybe you need to face up to the fact that the musician’s life is not for you.
Commitment 2: Write a song every week
Not all musicians are songwriters, but I think they should be. Writing a song (or composing a track) is the fundamental job of a musician, and aside from it providing fodder for your upcoming multi-platinum album, the discipline of sitting down and trying to finish something is invaluable. And don’t worry about whether it’s a good song or not, that’s not the point (and actually it’s not up to you to decide whether it’s good or not anyway; it’s up to the listener). Just make sure it has a beginning, a middle and an end, and preferably you’ve recorded it for posterity. You’d be amazed at how songs that seem terrible and pointless at the time sound great a few months down the line.
Commitment 3: Play a gig every month
There’s nothing like a deadline to spur you into creative action, and a gig is effectively a deadline: you need to be ready. It’s also an opportunity to get feedback (no, not that sort of feedback) on your music and your playing. It doesn’t really matter what or where the gig is – your gran’s front room will do – but make sure you’ve got something happening every month.
And that’s it! Can’t be that hard, eh? It’s not, but you need to be committed and if there’s any test of your commitment to the hard life of a professional musician, this is it. Good luck!