3 Mistakes Musicians Make to Sabotage Their Own Careers

While going through my inbox today, I received a request from someone asking for help to market their music. The ask started out with a simple note:

“I have a few songs I’d like to either submit to labels to shop around to artists and I could really use your help.”

I get a number of these requests everyday – usually, about 75-100 per day. To help filter these, I direct these requests to the consulting services section of the website, since I can’t possibly field them all.

This person was insistent, responding within a few minutes with “Great, what could you possibly do for me? I don’t mind profit sharing.”

Again, I pointed to the website, saying details about the services were all included there.

Two minutes later, I received another message: “that means you’re useless.” Then, a few minutes after that, I received two more:

 

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“your last post on the site about music is from 2013 LOL”
“Feeling important because of some unimportant TED shitty talks?”

Rather than simply saying “no thank you” and declining the service, he decided to lash out instead (and use incorrect information at that…I’ve published several dozen articles on this site as well as an entire book about navigating the music industry since 2013).

But I’ve also found that this kind of behavior isn’t entirely uncommon. Musicians make similar mistakes all the time. When they repeat these kinds of things, it not only hurts them in the long run, but they’re often bewildered as to why things don’t go as well for them as they should.

Here are three common mistakes musicians make that sabotage their own careers:

  1. Burn Bridges: All too often, artists will get offended and choose to burn relationships with others in the industry for one reason or another. Sometimes, it’s because they felt like they were genuinely wronged. Other times, it’s because their egos were hurt. Either way, it doesn’t help throw a fit, talk trash, or spur industry people on social media.

    Remember, this is a small industry and we tend to all know each other: booking agents, managers, publicists, promoters, record labels, etc. and word gets around very quickly when an artist is hard to work with and is rude. You never know who you’ll need help from later on, it’s better to accept things with a bit of grace and work towards having the best relationships possible.

  2. Act Self-Entitled: Earlier this year, I wrote an article called “6 Phrases That Make You Sound Like a Diva,” that was picked up by a few music industry publishers. It was inspired by a former client that I had, and every phrase was one that they used. Their attitude lost them multiple booking agents, multiple publicists, and dozens of regional promoters…nobody wanted to work with them. It wasn’t because of lack of talent or a decent fanbase, people in the industry just have better things to do than to waste their time on an artist who is self-entitled.
  3. Blame Others: When things seem to always be someone else’s fault, it’s usually because we’re failing to take responsibility. When artists continually place the blame on others, it means that they aren’t learning from their mistakes and will inevitably be doomed to repeat them.

    Want to know why you’re not getting the shows or attention that you’d like form your music? Want to know why labels, managers, and booking agents aren’t working with you? First, look take an honest look at yourself and figure out what areas you can improve on before blaming yet another person in the industry or music trend. Owning mistakes goes a long way in this industry.

Remember, this is an industry built on relationships. It really is about who you know. Any musician who is serious about their career should consider these simple, but glaring, mistakes that are committed every day. When you consider how small the music industry is and how easy it is to get your social media comments or emails shared, it’s best to err on the side of being amiable than not.

Marketing your music is more than just using social media, it’s about building your brand (a.k.a your reputation). If your brand is about burning bridges, self-entitlement, and victimization of your lack of success, than no marketer will be able to salvage your career. Think twice before you hit send on the email or posting a bitter tweet. Ask yourself, “will sending this message actually help my music career?” If the answer is no, then figure out a better message to send.

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