Understand your role in the music industry.
What is your job? Who pays you?
With no doubt this is the most difficult concept for people wanting a career in music to understand. If you want a career in the music industry or an active career doing music in another industry like film and advertising you must understand your role and what your job is. Your job is not to explore your creative desires, it is to meet the needs of the people that hire you. Know who is the boss, and what your job is, then do the best job possible. How this works and the person that hires you will change depending on your business model and your career choices within the industry.
If you are an artist your boss is your fan base. Your job is to entertain your fan base.
If you are a film or tv composer your boss is the director and producer. Your job is to write the music that supports their creative vision or story.
Your boss may be: Your fans, a producer, a director, a creative director, a record label A&R, an executive producer, an artist, a songwriter, a music supervisor, a student, the church congregation.
If your not sure who your boss is ask your self: Who pays me? They are your boss.
This is a concept that can sound a bit harsh at first, especially since so many musicians “work for themselves” but even when you work for yourself you still have a boss, and you still have a job. The biggest difference is you have many bosses and many jobs, and you are in control of your salary/ wage. Want a raise? Charge more money (higher price for your cds, live show tickets, merchandise, your hourly rate, or project rare) or find more “bosses” (fans, clients, projects). Don’t like the job? Drop the client. Theses are your choices to make as you build your career.
For artists this is a tough reality to digest. “I just want to be creative”, “I just want to write songs”. Your purpose is not to express yourself. It is to provide entertainment to your fans. No one wants to hear your music. No one wants to hear your great new song. What value are your providing to some one else? Does your music serve someone or is it self indulgent? What people want is to be entertained. They want to be brought to a place that makes them feel something. They might want to dance or escape the rat race for 3 minutes and feel like they are partying in Vegas. They might want to set the mood for a romantic evening. They might want to relax, or feel sophisticated. They might want to feel pride for there country, or young and rebellious. It is your job to take them to that place through your live performances, music, videos, and social media. Your passion and talent are not your purpose, but something that drives you to be the best at this. How you choose to connect to people and what you make them feel is how you will define yourself as an artist. The ways you can do this are infinite, but you must connect with them, and you must give them what they want.
Make your music provide value. Focus on this concept and I promise your career in music will begin to grow.