Being in the music industry can take a toll on anyone, from new artists to long-time veterans. If it was easy, anyone would be able to do it; but what really makes the music industry great, is that is separates the passive from the hustlers. While so many people may give music a try, most will eventually quit once they realize how difficult the entertainment industry really is. For those who stick at it, however, the results are often well worth the struggles.
If you’re an artist who occasionally feels like giving up in order to pursue a new career path, you have two options – either quit, or try these suggestions and keep pressing on.
Remember Your “why.”
Every artist has that one main reason as to why they’ve decided to dedicate their life to music. What’s yours? If it’s something fleeting like “I want to be rich and famous,” that won’t be enough to keep you motivated. But maybe that reason is more along the lines of “I want to use music to spread positive messages” or “music is the only way I can express myself,” which is more consistent with a true artist.
Pinpoint your reason for being in the music business, write it down, and read it whenever you’re feeling discouraged. Your “why” will determine how passionate you actually are about music – and if you’re truly passionate, then no amount of setbacks will be able to make you want to quit.
Get back to your roots.
For producers and songwriters in particular, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with having to cater to different demands, creating music for different genres, and dealing with the business side of music. Dealing with business is inevitable, but it can be draining after a while and make you forget about why you wanted to create music in the first place.
Set aside the business aspect for a second, and get back to your roots. Listen to the tracks that made you fall in love with music and inspired you to become an artist. Whether you were listening to East Coast hip-hop from the 1980s, practicing songs in the mirror to TLC, or trying to play the piano like Duke Ellington, revisit the songs you loved when you were younger and remember how music – at its core – makes you feel.
Take a class.
Attending a songwriting workshop, a lecture about the music industry, or signing up for music lessons are great ways to break out of a slump. Artists feel unmotivated when they’re stagnant. It’s progress that leads to motivation and inspiration, so change things up by placing yourself in a learning environment.
Work on personal development.
Motivation and success comes down to how your mind works. Are you organized? Are you constantly working on bettering yourself? If you’re not dedicating time to self-improvement, you will be much less equipped to deal with setbacks and negativity in a productive and positive way.
These days, everyone has a wealth of information at their fingertips. Take advantage of these resources such as podcasts, online articles, audio books, etc. and set aside at least 15-20 minutes each day to focus on yourself. So many individuals overlook this topic, but it’s no coincidence that the most successful people in the world, regardless of their occupation, invest time into personal development. For starters, you can check out either Chalene Johnson or Louis Howes on iTunes and listen to their podcasts, or look around for something that resonates with you more.
Take a break.
Everyone needs to recharge at some point. Maybe you’ve run out of inspiration for a new song, or you’re frustrated because nobody is responding to your demo submissions. Sometimes, it’s best to take a break, get your mind off music for a day or so, and then come back mentally refreshed.
Reevaluate what you want.
The reality is, a career in music isn’t for everyone. There’s a difference between enjoying music as a hobby, and dedicating your life to the craft – especially since it takes more commitment, sacrifice, and mental toughness than most people assume. Be honest with yourself and figure out if being in the music industry is right for you. If the idea of quitting sounds worse to you than the struggles you’ve gone through (and will go through), then you’re most likely in the right place.
Also, ask yourself this: If there was no chance of making money from music, but you would still be able to compose and/or perform, would you still want to do it? If getting rich is your main priority, there are quicker ways to go about doing so. But if you can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of your life, then keep working hard, be consistent, and don’t let anything dissuade you from your music goals.