Becoming a musician always looks so easy from the outside. We hear stories about people who are blessed with talent who somehow figure out exactly what they need to make a hit, the right people to work with somehow magically find them, and then they are off on their way to a successful career.
The reality is that the stories we hear tend to leave a lot of things out. That band that seemed to come out of nowhere may have been using a large amount of inherited money and/or family support to make sure that they could afford to put the work in to become a success. That singer-songwriter who caught the world’s attention at an incredibly young age may have family connections in the industry that helped her to cut out so many steps that everyone else has to take. That DJ who has taken the scene by storm probably had to work for years doing the kind of gigs that no one ever pays attention to before they finally broke through, like DJ Carl Cox, who earned money stocking shelves while he was still paying his dues as a teenager. The fact of the matter is that unless you are lucky enough to be born into the industry or a lot of money, you are going to be facing some hurdles.
The important thing to remember is that everyone goes through these challenges, and that there are always going to be ways to get around them or to work through them. Here are some of the most common with some tips on how to get past them.
You Can’t Get The Line-Up Right
Every music act in its early stages goes through a certain amount of change. To be fair, a lot of established music acts go through a lot of changes too! It can be incredibly frustrating when you have a clear idea of what it is that you want from the band, and you feel like people are not on the same page. The important thing to remember is that if something is not working now, it is not going to get easier. Don’t be afraid to have frank conversations with your band mates about your plans and what you want to be doing with your music. It is better to start looking for someone who you can work with instead of toughing it out with someone who doesn’t really want to be there.
You Can’t Find A Space To Rehearse
It does not matter whether you are a solo act, a band, or a DJ: you need to rehearse. There is simply no getting around it, but it is not always as simple as agreeing on a time that everyone can commit to. Rehearsal space is not always easy to come by, and if you are really serious about your music, there is only so long that you can settle for the garage or your bedroom. The good news is that rehearsal spaces are not as budget-crushingly expensive as you might think. If you are worried about shelling out cash for a professional rehearsal space, then make sure that you make the most of the time. Have a clear idea of what you want to work on while you have the proper space, whether that is running through a potential live set list or figuring out those problem tracks.
You Don’t Have The Right Gear
Every single aspiring musician has had that moment when they realise that the gear they want is not quite within their grasp. Maybe you’re a DJ who wants to invest in a deck that is a few hundred bucks out of their budget range, or maybe you’re a guitarist who knows that their performance will never be complete until they have that dream axe. The good news is that, for a lot of different musicians, technology has made a lot of things more accessible and affordable. Now, new software is not going to drive the price of a Gibson down, but if you’re a DJ and you are feeling like you don’t have enough money to really get going, the best thing you can do is to learn about what kind of equipment is out there and which pieces you actually need. You are always going to have people telling you that you need this expensive bit of gear, but if you are starting out there is plenty of gear out that won’t break the bank. PIRATE has put together this beginner’s DJ setup guide that will break down the basics and the essentials and help you get started.
You Are Struggling To Keep Going
Everyone, no matter how successful they are, will have had that moment when they have questioned whether they really want to keep on trying. The music industry has always been ferociously competitive, and it has always been too easy to compare yourself to other acts and artists and to ask why they are having more success than you. It’s an industry with some nasty secrets which is fighting for positive change. It is also far too easy to take things personally because let’s not forget, this is an art, and your music is a personal expression. If you get some bad feedback in the form of a comment or a review, if you get a rejection from someone that you’ve asked to listen to your demo, or if you are told that your gig has been cancelled, of course that is going to hurt.
The idea that all of the setbacks are just supposed to glide off you is not helpful. The important thing is to remember that this is a process that every artist, DJ, or band has been through. You need to learn how to keep going in the face of rejection, in the face of a crowd that did not love you like you wanted them to, in the face of a door being slammed in your face. There are so many music acts out there and they are all fighting to be heard and to be a success. Your staying power is one of the most important weapons that you have.