Steering Your Own Musical Destiny

twisted_directions© 2009 Vinny Ribas

 There are leaders, and there are followers. Leaders take the bull by the horns and they run with it. They create, innovate and find solutions. They are constantly generating new ideas and then acting on them. Followers, on the other hand, wait to ride the coattails of others. They see what else is working and then try to duplicate it. They are like the generic brand of a product that comes out once the original patent expires.[private_freebie]

 Don’t take this the wrong way. There is NOTHING right or wrong with being either one. Sometimes leaders become wildly successful, and other times they hit brick walls trying to push something that the public doesn’t want or isn’t ready for. Sometimes there is plenty of room for followers to make money behind the leaders. Other times they wait a little too long to jump in the game. And at other times, they tweak what a leader does and turn it into their own success.

 I say all of this for 2 reasons.  First, it is important to know where you fit when it comes to leading and following so that you can perfect your game plan. Secondly, you need to decide if the role you play is getting you where you want to go and at the pace that you want to go at. If it is not, maybe its time to start steering your own destiny.

 When I was performing full time (a lifetime ago), I recognized some challenges that I was having. Rather than wallow in them, I decided to take charge of my career. Here are just a few examples: 

  • (1980s) When I wasn’t getting booked enough, I started my own booking agency. That way I could always take the best gigs.
  • (1990) I needed exposure. I realized that there were a lot of musicians and singers in Northern Nevada, and many opportunities to perform. But there was no central directory that musicians could advertise in or be found in. That meant that there was no way for me to get my name out to everyone. So, for 4 years, Connie and I published the Northern Nevada Entertainment Directory. By its 4th printing it was a 200 page, spiral bound book with a full-color cover. We printed 2000 of them and gave them away free to all of the casinos, bridal couples, event planners, nightclubs, booking agencies and any other entertainment buyers that we could find. By 1995, we even had everyone in an online database! Guess who had the largest and most ads in the book? That directory is also what landed me the job as Entertainment Director for the Nevada State Fair!
  • (2001) I wanted to get paid for songwriting, but didn’t want to have to travel to New York, LA or Nashville to do it. So I started a company called ‘Volunteer Appreciation’. We recorded custom CDs for nonprofit organizations. The CDs featured testimonies from members of the organizations, and my original songs. The organizations gave the CDs away as thank you gifts for their volunteers and donors, or sold them as a fundraiser. We even negotiated a contract with Chicken Soup For The Soul to publish CDs for nonprofits under their name (e.g. Chicken Soup For The YMCA Soul”).
  • (2008) When I wanted to get more connected in the Nashville music industry, Connie and I decided to start running a small weekly music industry networking meeting. That idea took on a life of its own and has blossomed into Indie Connect. I think it is fair to say that I am quite a bit more connected now than I was 15 months ago when we held the first luncheon with 6 friends.

Think hard and seriously about this because it can change your career in tremendous ways. What can you do to take complete control of your career? If you’re not able to come up with a unique and effective way to create your own success, ask for help. Don’t limit your help to people in the music business. Anyone with a marketing mind could help you. Remember, necessity is the mother of invention.


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.