Defining Your Career As An Independent Musician

© 2010 Vinny Ribas

The road to long-term success in the music business is paved with golden dreams, public praise and approving applause. But it is also often ridden with unforgiving potholes. Sometimes you even hit a sinkhole that threatens to swallow you alive. As with any business venture, chances are it will take more time and more money than you expect. It may also take other tolls on you that you were unprepared to face.[private_freebie]

So let’s get real. Given this knowledge of what the journey will entail, here are 10 questions that you need to answer before you find yourself in one of those sinkholes that you cannot climb out of. Be brutally honest with yourself.

  1. What do you want to be when you grow up? Although things may change as you move forward, at all times you need to know what the ultimate target is that you are aiming for. And what will you settle for? And while you’re at it, what do you NOT want to be?
  2. What are you willing to do and not do to get there? Be totally honest.
  3. How long do you give yourself to get there? Is this a lifelong journey, or a short-term shot to see how far you can get is a certain amount of time?
  4. How will the ups and downs of your journey effect your personal attitude and state of mind? How will it affect your friends and family? Whose support for you have or need?
  5. How much are you willing to risk? How much are you willing to sacrifice? What are you willing to give up? How much are you willing to invest in yourself? What is the cutoff point when you say ‘enough is enough’?
  6. What are your emotional boundaries? When would you say ‘this is too much to handle’? Can you identify a potential breaking point? Can you pinpoint what will be the hardest thing for you to face? How are you preparing for it?
  7. What are your ethical boundaries? In other words, what would you consider ‘crossing the line’? Establish your own ‘code of honor’ to build your career by.
  8. What are the intermediate targets that you need to hit to get to your final destination?
  9. How will you know when you’re reached your highest goal?
  10. What will you do then? What will be your reward for successfully making this journey? Will you change directions? Keep pushing forward to even greater heights? Kick back and enjoy the success? Will you look for other challenges? Will you give back to those who helped you get there (your fans, your team, your community etc)?

There is one more ‘bonus question’ that can be more important than all of the above. If you don’t reach your ultimate goal, or if you hit one or more of the thresholds that you’ve set for yourself, what will you do? Will you settle for something less then being at the top (e.g. making a good living but not being a superstar)? Will you back up a few steps, regroup and then give it another shot? Will you extend your boundaries? If so, which ones are set in stone and which ones are flexible? Or will you change directions completely and move into a different, more stable career path?

Keep in mind that setting limits on things like your time, emotional energy, risk, personal investment etc. are not bad things as long as you don’t use them as copouts. These are not excuse for failure. In fact, they can really help you r state of mind if you utilize them correctly. Use them to drive yourself a little more when you’re getting close to an edge. Use them to insure that your
public reputation and personal convictions remains positively intact. Use them to assure your family that you will not deep-six yourself and them. But most of all, use them for the peace of mind that you are giving yourself an honest shot at attaining your highest goals.


About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.