This post originally appeared on Sonicbids.
Despite mountains of easy-to-find evidence to the contrary, musicians still have some serious delusions about the music industry and how to “make it.” To quote the amazing Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones – because what he says is #truth – “If it was an overnight success, it was one long, hard, sleepless night.” If that still hasn’t penetrated your skull, well, here are three more specific delusions musicians still have about the biz, and each one revolves around the idea that overnight successes are a serious myth.
1. Talent is enough to bring you success
Talent is the most important thing. You have to have it. Without it, you have nothing, really. But you also need to hone that talent, sharpen your skills, and develop and fine-tune all other ancillary elements of band-dom. You need to rehearse – daily. You need to tour in a crappy, smelly van that has a stupid nickname and sputters along with 250,000 miles on the odometer. Having a bus doesn’t make you a rock star, but knowing how to survive and profit off of a tour sure does. You need to put in the daily effort and work on getting along with your bandmates. You need to write (and rewrite) song choruses and corresponding hooks. And when the timing is right, you’ll need to hire a manager and enlist a publicist. You need a lot of things to accompany your God-given talent, but don’t give up. Just go into it knowing that you have to be patient and let time do its thing.
2. Ambition is enough to bring you success
Ambition will certainly be the rocket fuel propelling you forward, but there are lots of ambitious, talented people toiling away, still trying to make it while seemingly spinning their wheels. Whodoesn’t want to be the biggest band in the world, right? You can’t and won’t get by on your talent, ambition, and charm alone. You’ve got to be a total package, and that starts with songs and ends with presentation and is assisted by your team. I know it may seem like some artists stepped in shit and got huge – quick. But how well do you really know their backstory? You likely don’t. But honestly, stop worrying about what anyone else is doing and worry about you and what you’re doing – and perhaps even more importantly, what you aren’t doing.
3. Associations are the magic bullet
You can have the same manager, the same publicist, or the same label as a huge and successful band, but that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have that same level of success because you’re guilty by association. There’s no such thing as passive success in this business. You’ll need to put in the effort and the hours in order to elevate yourself and your band to the next level. Having the right pieces in place will help, but the burden is ultimately on you to git ‘er done. Remember, a label and a manager are money-lending institutions and steerers of the ship, respectively. Aim for doing a gold medal-worthy backstroke. The team will help you navigate the waters, but whether you sink or swim is totally up to you.
Also, please remember that an entitled, know-it-all attitude will get you nowhere. Don’t stand in your own way. If you think that you’ve been grounding and pounding for years and have not advanced to your liking, maybe it’s time for an adjustment in your thinking.
Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to Spin.com to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.