Dealing With The Risks Of A Music Career

© 2019 Vinny Ribas

There is no question that becoming a full-time, well-paid artist or songwriter is risky business. Wise creators understand and don’t underestimate the risks right from the start. They know what they are getting into, how much it will cost, how long it will take, what they need to sacrifice to ‘make it’ and who it will affect. They then put things in place to either minimize or completely eliminate the risk.

Here are some of the common risks involved in a career in music:

  • As with any business venture, it takes a while to start making money. It’s always best to rely on an outside source of income while you building your skills, reputation, credibility and income.
  • It costs money to get started and then to maintain your career. You’ll always be buying equipment, investing in marketing, taking lessons and more. Plan ahead by budgeting all your money regardless of the source so you’re never taken by surprise.
  • It takes a substantial investment of your time on a daily basis. You’ll always be practicing, writing, recording, learning, performing, marketing, dealing with business and legal issues etc.
  • There is no guarantee of a steady income. Gigs cancel. Performing might be seasonal. This is where budgeting comes in. Be prepared for the slower times by setting aside money from your more lucrative times.
  • Being productive can be dependent on your health. This is why it’s critical 1) to take care of yourself, and 2) to create some forms of residual income, such as music licensing and royalties, that are not dependent on your daily activity.
  • The time required, the amount of investment you need to make, touring and more can affect your relationships. Maintaining a balance at all times needs to be your top priority.
  • Music can become an all-consuming obsession. It’s critical to surround yourself with people who understand and even share your passion. But again, this is where balance is critical. It’s fine if no one is depending on you to be there for them. But when others are in the picture, you need to set time aside for them as well.  
  • The music industry can take a toll on your mental health. You have to deal with rejection over and over again. It is packed with frustration. There may be long periods when nothing seems to be happening for you. You might find yourself dealing with unreliable and even unethical people. You might come incredibly close to ‘making ‘ it’ only to have the whole deal disintegrate in front of you. It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into and to develop the mental toughness and resilience necessary to fight through the many setbacks.
  • There are no guarantees. Getting signed doesn’t guarantee you’ll be rich or famous. Writing a great song doesn’t guarantee anyone will hear or record it. Getting a great gig doesn’t guarantee you’ll get more of them. You need to be mentally tough and very realistic about the industry. You also need to understand the role that luck and timing often (but not always) play in getting a big break.  
  • If there is no demand for your music where you live, you may need to move or travel to make a living.  
  • There are sharks around every corner. You need to educate yourself and surround yourself with reputable, trusted professionals. Always do your due diligence on anyone who wants to do business with you. Also always have an entertainment attorney review any contracts you want or need to sign.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more risks.  The key is to understand exactly what it will take for you to see success, and prepare yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and financially for the long ride. Only then will you be able to fight through any roadblocks thrown in your way.

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.