If you're reading this, know that you're not alone. In fact, you're in very good company with thousands of other people who have felt the exact same way. A career in music isn't easy, but you knew that long before your embarked on this journey. And why have you gotten this far? Because you didn't let the naysayers and statistics deter you. Because you have a song in your heart and a deep passion for sharing that with the world. Yet we all find ourselves in this low place from time to time. And if anyone tells you differently, they're either lying, in denial, or both. But before you allow yourself to wallow any deeper into your sorrow, or worse, make a devastating, life-altering mistake that will take you off the path of fulfilling your dreams to their full potential, ask yourself these three simple questions.
1. Why did I want to pursue music in the first place?
I believe that music is a calling, not a hobby. It's something that speaks to your soul and lights a fire within you. And for the special few, it's a way of life and career. But it cannot be more than just a personal joy if you don't give it the chance. You could have chosen anything; there are a million different jobs to explore in life. And frankly, the vast majority of them would provide a lot more financial stability and security than your standard music career. But none of that has deterred you, because you know you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing. You owe it yourself to see it through and pursue music with all the passion you have.
2. Why is failure an option?
As they say, nothing good ever comes easy. But why would you ever accept failure as being an option for something that means more to you than anything else? You know as well as anyone that you'll never forgive yourself or live a day without wondering what could have and should have been if you were to ever give up on music. There's no such thing as overnight success, and it's true that this may be something you work at for years and years before seeing the type of return you'd hoped for. But that's no reason to throw it all away. The years of education, development, and experience have led you to this point where you need to lay it all on the line and decide what it's going to mean. Are you going to be one of the sad mass of people that let all of their talent fall behind and become overtaken by a life consumed with mediocrity and regret? Or will you pull yourself out of this rut and realize that you shouldn't waste another waking moment not moving forward with making your musical aspirations a reality?
3. Could I ever be as fulfilled doing anything else?
Most importantly, you need to be honest with yourself and determine whether music is what you are ready to dedicate your life to. Though every professional musician has inevitably had to have this evaluation with themselves at some point, it's clear when coming out the other side that music isn't the best option, it's the only option. I believe it's imperative that people pursue what it is that fulfills them inside, as that is the only way to find true happiness. Instead of spending your life underwhelmed with your daily existence in order to satisfy someone else's definition of success, why don't you allow yourself to do what you know you were meant to do and let that lead you to your own success? In the words of my old buddy Confucius, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Now that's the kind of wisdom you need to refocus and get back on track, so get after it, my musical grasshoppers!
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Christine Occhino is the founder and artistic director of The Pop Music Academy and has experience working at Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment, in addition to working as a performing artist for over a decade. She has a bachelor's degree in music business & management with a concentration in entrepreneurship and vocal performance from Berklee College of Music, where she was a vocal scholarship recipient and former editor-in-chief of The Berklee Groove. She is also the proud founder and CEO of Hope In Harmony, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that brings music to those in need.