More Simple Wisdom From Successful Musicians to Help Your Career

Posted by Dave Kusek on Jun 18, 2014 09:30 AM
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billie_joe_armstrong_simple_wisdom_successful_musicians_green_ayBillie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. Photo credit: Sven-Sebastian Sajak

Success in the music industry means you’ve learned a lot along the way, and most musicians who have created a career around their music have gotten there with lots of trial and error. These are the musicians who have learned from experience – they’ve implemented a variety of marketing strategies (including some that may not have worked), they’ve dealt with admiration and criticism, and they’ve come out on the other side with a lot of wisdom to share with all of us.

Of course, there are plenty of case studies out there, but often times you can gain just as much insight by reading short quotes from successful musicians. In our last article, we explored the importance of enthusiasm and learning with a little help from Coldplay's Chris Martin and B.B. King. Today, we’ll look at the value of mistakes and finding your niche.

“Making mistakes is a lot better than not doing anything.” - Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day)

Mistakes are usually felt as a bad thing, and with good reason. Everyone is all too familiar with that terrible feeling that comes along with making mistakes. But it’s not all negative! With the right mindset, mistakes can be just as beneficial as success, and perhaps even more so.

Think about it: When you make a mistake, you know what doesn’t work, and that’s one step closer to knowing what does – and most importantly, finding out why. The key is to learn from your mistakes so that the next time you try, you just might succeed! Remember, more good will come from trying and failing than being too afraid to try in the first place.

Mistakes also tend to mean that you’re taking risks. If you’re just sticking to safe, generic strategies in the music industry you probably won’t fail as often, but you certainly won’t be doing anything particularly innovative or interesting either. The most important innovators in the music industry are the ones who aren’t afraid to take risks and try new things. They are the ones who break through – often by being different.

“I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” - Ed Sheeran

Not everyone will like you and your music. It’s a fact of life, but with something as personal as music, getting criticism can be a tough blow to take. Fortunately, you don’t need to please everyone to have a great career in music. In fact, lots of musicians have found success by addressing a very specific niche, like “sailing music” or “a cappella vocal music."

Of course, you don’t need to limit yourself to an extremely narrow niche, but you should use niche marketing to define yourself and your sound. If your music is all over the map genre-wise, lots of people will be able to identify with individual tracks, but there will be no unified community around you as a musician. You’ll probably feel lost and overwhelmed creatively, and it will be really difficult to create business and marketing strategies simply because you won’t have a definable target audience.

On the flip side, if you define your sound as acoustic singer/songwriter, you’ll know exactly which venues to target for gigs, you’ll know which studios and producers to work with to really bring out your sound, and you’ll be able to build great targeted marketing strategies.


The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. Get five free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our mailing list.

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