Musician’s Guide Excerpt “Vision”

So you play music, and you want to do something with it. The first thing you need to do is know what your vision is. What kind of musician do you want to be, and what are your goals? Without doing this first you are only rambling in the vast sea of the music scene and will find it very hard to make your mark. There are many different avenues to go down. I speak with many artists all the time, and they are all on a little different path, in a different time period in their lives, have different views on just about everything. Find your vision, know it, and stick to it. Sometimes we know what we want to do but we never really write it down or even verbalize it. It’s important that you acknowledge this in some way so there is no question to yourself what you want to do with music.
Now, a vision to be a full time musician, but not setting goals and pursuing those goals isn’t a vision, that’s called day dreaming. Contrary to popular belief it is possible to make a living playing music. You will be surprised what simply knowing your vision and setting goals will help you accomplish.

Here are some questions to think about:

-Do you want to be a songwriter, play your original music, and try to get your songs published to make royalties?
-Do you want to play solo acoustic shows and play covers songs?
-Do you want to form a band and play cover songs?
-Do you want to form a band and write and perform original music?
-Do you want to perform locally for fun or tour?
-Do you want to be a full time musician, or is it a hobby?

I have friends in all of these fields. What you want to do with your music and your abilities needs to be thought out and figured out first and foremost. Once you know the direction you want to go, you can start to make goals and then set out to achieve these goals. Your vision comes first, then you set goals according to that vision.
I have a friend that plays 4-6 nights a week. He has regular venues that he plays, some once a week, others once a month, and then there is always other gigs that come up outside of his regulars. He plays cover songs, and he knows about any song that anybody would want to hear. He knows at least one song from a wide range of artists. He gets good money for each gig, and he does this full time.
I have friends that play mostly original music and tour all the time. They also make a living at music, but their life style is a lot harder. They live on the road for long periods of time.
Some others I know focus on song writing and publishing, but they don’t necessarily do this for a living. They still work other jobs and do what they can with music when they can. This is a lot harder to make enough money unless you do get someone to pick up your song, and you make some good royalties. Which will lead to other song writing jobs, more than likely.
Myself and others do a mixture of all of these. Play the cover gigs to pay the bills, write songs and try to get people to buy into my original music, and perform shows that consists of mostly original music.

Most of this ebook is from the point of view that you want to be a full time musician, but if you aren’t or don’t want to, you can still glean many useful tips from this.

If you want to be a full time musician, you have to work hard and stay focused on your goals. It’s important you listen to wise counsel. Know the difference between that and other people’s opinions of what you should be doing. You might have to do things that you don’t like, or don’t know how to do. You will have to get over it, learn, and do it anyway. You will have to make sacrifices in some way or another. If you aren’t good at talking with people on a business level, then you need to get over that and do it anyway or you won’t get too far. Maybe you aren’t good at promoting yourself, but you have to learn to over come these things if you want to get off the ground. Part of being a musician in today’s world is you have to wear a lot of different hats. You have to be the musician, agent, manager, roadie, publicist, and so on. Find a way to manage your fears and short comings in these areas and move forward! You can’t just be a musician.

Don’t get discouraged about all the hard work either! I started at this in ‘08 and I’ve made small steps in the right direction ever since. Now a lot of hard work is paying off. It’s still hard, but I can see the fruit of the hard work. There is no easy button. If there was, everyone would be famous, and that just doesn’t happen. Not that you or I have “famous” as a goal, but for context sake, you have to work hard to be successful. It might take 5-10 years to get to a point where you are very successful.

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