I recently shared a warm beverage with a young man who is absolutely killing it by booking and marketing his band. He said his goals were to be doing this in twenty years. I said, “You know how you do that?” He asked how. I said, “You keep doing it for 20 years.”
Millennials like this young man are very talented, very driven, and extremely ready to get going with their career. They have been online since they were born, and have gathered information from around the world via computer their whole life. They are smart.
But sometimes they don’t understand that even though they have advanced knowledge, that doesn’t lead to having an instant career. You still have to put in the years of work like everyone else who has had a great career has done.
This applies in every type of work, but it really seems to hit home with music. I would say that half or more of the work that I get as a musician, producer, or whatever is from people who call me and ask me if I still do music. The fact that I do it is how I actually get music work.
Many folks I meet who would like to have a career in music haven’t even sung yet! They have never recorded, taken a class, or even made any effort to talk to anyone before me. They just know they like music and think it would be neat to have a career.
So there’s the first step to a career in music.
Start Doing It
“If you could get up the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.” – David Viscott
Seriously, start doing it right now. Send an email, get working with someone, get started on a music project, or get out there with your music. This young man I was talking about will have done 85 shows this year. He’s still hungry for more, and wants that the rest of his life.
In order to have a career you have to start one!
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
So, what if you have already been doing music, maybe for years? Ok, here’s the biggest secret I can reveal in the music business. Are you ready? This is absolutely the one thing that those who have had a long career in music have done that others who fell by the wayside did not. It’s the one thing that I see musicians, artists, songwriters, engineers, etc. do repeatedly that kills a promising music career.
“Most people who succeed in the face of seemingly impossible conditions are people who simply don’t know how to quit.” – Robert H. Schuller
I have worked with lots of people over my career that I have been musicians, singers, players, songwriters, engineers, or some other musical thing. The only thing that is different about me and what I do and those who don’t do it anymore is that they stop doing it. Mostly it’s because they found out how hard it is, how extremely difficult it is to make a living in music. Or maybe they just didn’t think it was the right life for them.
“I’m interested in that thing that happens where there’s a breaking point for some people and not for others. You go through such hardship, things that are almost impossibly difficult, and there’s no sign that it’s going to get any better, and that’s the point when people quit. But some don’t.” –Robert Redford
Living as a musician and making that your life is very challenging. It’s not the first thing a banker wants to see on your application for a loan. Parents will look at you and wonder if there isn’t something else you could do to make money. Even my dad, who was a musician and was my number one fan wanted me to going to business in college. He worked at IBM for 33 years and just thought that was a smart move. (I luckily did quit this path because I was terrible at all business classes.)
So there you go, my main two pieces of advice for how to have a long music career. Start a music career. Don’t quit your music career. If you’re laughing and think it’s not that easy then go ahead and quit. I’ll see you in 20 years. And yes I’ll still be doing music.
“The truth will only be told over a career.” – Richard Linklater
Have a great week!
Eric Copeland is a music producer, songwriter, leader of creatives, and has been for almost 40 years because he just won’t quit. If you’re ready to start, restart, or continue your Christian music career, check out Creative Soul. Our goal is to prepare and guide Christian artists and songwriters. Find out how to get started here!