Many musicians believe that skill is all they need to achieve the level of success they desire in the music industry. Is that true? Is it possible for musicians to get everything they want and more just by being good?
Every year, many musicians leave school equipped with the knowledge to compose professionally, play in orchestras, perform in jazz bands, and much more.
In the grand scheme of things, how much does education really matter? Moreover, does skill really make a difference in today’s music industry?
I’d like you to give some thought to the following points.
Skill is Necessary, but it’s Not Everything
Whether it’s singing, playing an instrument, or even mixing and mastering, there is a great deal of practice and skill involved. Some of the musicians in the limelight today may not be the cream of the crop, but they do what they do well enough to appeal to the masses.
Your goal may not be super-stardom, and that’s okay. But we can see from the example of the stars that there’s more to making it big than just singing or playing well.
Success is something you get to define – there is no right or wrong. However, if you want the life of the rich and the famous, then business, leadership, marketing, and other skills are critically important to your success.
Skill is Not Marketing
If we build it they will come. That logic doesn’t really work for most music-career-minded individuals.
You could be exceptional at what you do, but if people don’t really know what you’re doing, how are you going to get their attention?
You need an outlet for your creativity. You need a way to gain exposure. You need to get yourself out there, and to be seen by others.
Marketing is something you have to do on an ongoing basis if you want to create more fans or gain more clients. However, it doesn’t happen on autopilot. It’s something you have to do proactively.
Skill is Not Business Sense
If a record label were to exploit you and your abilities as an artist today, unfortunately it wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened in the history of music.
It’s something you could avoid if you had at least a basic understanding of business, but if you choose not to develop your business skills, you have no way of protecting yourself from potential complications.
In addition to that, business sense can help you to cut better deals, make better long-term decisions, and problem-solve when challenges inevitably arise. Unfortunately, no amount of musical skill can teach you these things.
Unquestionably, skill does matter in the music industry. Some people are continually hired on to do a variety of work thanks to their well-developed abilities.
However, if you’re really hoping to make a go of it in the music industry, you need some smarts too. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you’re the one that chooses to learn and to grow, or if you ask help from others to aid you on your journey. You’re going to need to be able to navigate the minefield ahead.
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.