Talent Is Not Enough

2010 Vinny Ribas

Convention would tell us that singers, songwriters and musicians who are extremely talented and who continually hone their craft should automatically rise to the top. And there are many times when they do. But I would dare to say that there are millions of amazingly talented singers, musicians and bands worldwide who would love to make a career out of music but never make it past performing for friends and family, their hometown bars, or even out of their garages. At the same time, there are millions of less talented performers and writers who are at least making a living with their talents.

So what stifles the career of a gigantic talent, and what enables less-talented people to turn what talent they have into a means for making a living? There are countless circumstances that can affect one’s ultimate destiny. However, in the majority of cases, the reason(s) that many artists and aspiring artists fall short are in the following list.[private_member]

Please keep in mind that none of these things are faults, simply reasons. Some people are very comfortable and happy keeping their talent local or in the background. However, if deep in your heart you really want to be a successful musician but you seem to be hitting roadblock after roadblock, check out this list and see if any of these reasons relates to you and your situation.

  • Fear of putting it out there. There are many people who spend all of their time woodshedding, but never cross that line to even so much as test the waters. There can be any number of reasons for this, such as:
    • Lack of confidence
    • Fear of failure
    • Fear of embarrassment

In each of these cases, one solution is to break up the journey into small steps. Come up with a realistic and attainable goal that you need to reach before you take the 1st step, such as volunteering to perform for a charity event. Then don’t let yourself off the hook by backing down. Have someone else hold you accountable. Once you’ve taken that small step, set another goal for yourself that will enable you to take the next step(s).

  • Failure to learn the business side of the music business. This is one of the most common challenges that artists face. Many are capable of learning the music business, but refuse to do it. Many others are so far over on the creative side that the business aspects of performing are overwhelming or confusing. In both cases, there is a powerful 2-step solution:
    • Learn enough of the basics of business to know when you are being taken advantage of, and then;
    • Team up with someone who is trustworthy, who studies and understands the business and is willing to manage that side of your career.
  • Laziness. There is no quick fix to this except to find something emotional that makes you willing to do whatever it takes to make it. It needs to be something that cannot be attained any other way. For example, wanting a new car is great, but if you’re complacent with the car you have, that desire won’t motivate you at all. However, wanting to buy someone you love a new car can drive you to turn into a worker bee in a hurry!
  • Ego. Too many people feel that they are so talented that there is no way that they won’t be discovered. The straightforward truth is that anyone who is successful at what they do found a way to create their own breaks. They didn’t just happen to be ‘in the right place at the right time’ – they made sure that they were in the right place at the right time. And they were prepared in every way to take advantage of the opportunity when it crossed their path. Success is deliberate.
  • Attitude. Anyone who goes through life with a bad attitude, regardless of the reason, will never attract the kind of support team (band members, managers etc.) that it takes to be successful. No one wants to hang around someone who lives in a cloud of negativity. People flock to other people who are fun to be around.
  • Failure to reach out to make connections. Success comes from building strong relationships. No one makes it completely on his or her own. If you’re not willing to step up and call on the people you need to help you be successful, chances are they will never even know that you exist. If you don’t build relationships with your fans, they will quickly move on to another artist who makes them feel like family. Don’t be afraid of others. There are people everywhere who want to love you and your music!
  • Fear of risk. Some people are simply afraid to do anything that will upset their precious apple cart. However, the old adage, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ is as solid as it gets. The greater the risk, the greater the potential reward. However, taking small, calculated risks, again one step at a time, can improve your risk tolerance dramatically. Ask yourself, ‘If I take this little step and it doesn’t turn out as I expected, can I live with the consequences?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ go for it. If it works out satisfactorily, try another small step. Before you know it, you’ll look back and find that you have moved a long way toward your goal!
  • Unwillingness to do whatever it takes. This is a big one. Some people start down the path to a successful career, and then realize that it takes more money, time and/or effort than they are willing to put in. There is nothing wrong with that if it is genuinely too difficult or is going to create a real hardship. However, some people just have a tendency to quit the minute the going gets rough. For example, they might be used to a certain lifestyle that a music career wouldn’t be able to provide for quite a while. The only solution to this that I know of is the same one that I mentioned for laziness – find an emotional reason that will drive you to work through any and all challenges to attain something important to you.
  • Impatience – Some people are just used to getting their way. They want it, and they want it now. Learning patience is not an overnight fix. You need to want something badly enough, and believe that the result will be worth the wait in order to wait it out. Make a list of the ultimate benefits that you will receive if you stick with your plan, and then determine for yourself if it will be worth waiting for.
  • No vision – Some people just can’t see themselves as successful. I am not talking about insecurity. I am talking about just not being a ‘big picture’ kind of person. The best thing to do if this is you is network and surround yourself with people who can not only see the big picture, but can help in designing a plan to get you there.
  • Feel undeserving – Many people have had a sense of unworthiness drilled into them. They have been told that they would never amount to anything. Thus, no matter how talented they are, or how much they love singing or playing their instrument, they are uncomfortable with the attention that comes with it. You can often overcome this kind of mentality by surrounding yourself with positive people, reading books on self-worth and even moving in a spiritual direction.
  • Try too hard. Some people want to be stars so badly that they ignore common etiquette, professional courtesy and even basic respect for others. They try to force their way up the ladder, often stepping on others in their pursuits. It is always best to understand how the industry works, how you earn respect from your peers, and how to attract the support of others who will willingly push you to the top rather than do everything in their power to block your way.
  • Not a team player – No one becomes a success all by themselves. It takes a large team of supporters to run the machine that moves your career forward. It is mandatory that you learn how to work well with your band members, managers, radio program directors, producers, your fans etc. The list is endless.
  • Lack of professionalism – In order to rise to the top, you need to work with professionals. These people became professionals because they know how to act, talk, treat people etc. They also know what is expected of them and they deliver it 100% every time. You need to be the same way if you want to play at their level. That means dressing appropriately, being on time, keeping your promises etc.
  • Not enough money – Many people believe that it takes a lot of money to be successful. The truth is that, at most levels of the industry, it takes much more effort, tenacity, drive and ambition than it does money. Yes, you need to invest in yourself. But it is very possible to make enough money to make a comfortable living without breaking the bank. It is also possible to attract investors if you have your plan and you are working it successfully.
  • Alcohol or Substance abuse – This usually leads to many if not all of the above!

Interestingly enough, these are the same characteristics that stop great athletes, actors and even entrepreneurs. And as I mentioned at the beginning, most of these are more realities and challenges than insurmountable problems.[/private_member]

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.