Why Musicians Quit Part 3 – Not Wanting It Badly Enough

© 2010 Vinny Ribas

For many an aspiring artist, music sounds like a glamorous way to make a living. And, there is no doubt that it can be. However, before they reach the glamorous stage of their careers, and then from there on, it is a real job requiring hard work to stay at the top of their game. Music careers have a lot of high and low points, opportunities and challenges, and definitely up sides and down sides. There is often instability. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a local act or a top-selling national act; it is a lot of very hard work and definitely hot for someone who is going to treat it like a hobby. The question you need to ask yourself is, “How badly do I want this?”

Here are some of the obstacles that it takes solid determination to overcome:

  1. Dealing with creative or ego-driven personalities. These can be major challenges for someone who likes balance, order and organization. Creatives often don’t adhere to strict schedules, have way more ideas than anyone can process, go off on unrelated tangents in the middle of something, and need outlets for their creativity. Ego-driven personalities need the world to revolve around them. Both personality types can be very disruptive. So, if like balance you’re more organized and business-minded, then you might get unbearingly frustrated. There are several solutions to this:
    1. One is to take on the role of the band manager. That means you are in charge of keeping order, planning rehearsals, insuring everyone has proper gig information etc. You should get paid extra for this.
    2. Find other business-minded musicians to work with.
    3. Go into the management side of the business. You’ll still be dealing with artists, but you can choose which ones you want to work with.
  2. Playing the same songs over and over every night again can get boring. There are several fixes for this.
    1. Make it more about pleasing and entertaining the audience than it is about you. Every audience is different, so every gig should be different.
    2. Compare it to having a traditional job in which you do the same thing over and over again. Which would you prefer doing?
    3. Learn songs that challenge you. Keep getting better at your instrument)s) and/or vocals and then stretch your boundaries.
    4. Surround yourself with other players who will continuously challenge you.
    5. Write original songs and find venues that will allow you to play them.
    6. Rehearse and learn new songs often to keep your set list fresh. Keep in mind that artists with hits have to plays those songs every night for the rest of their careers!
  3. Inability to get booked. Many acts, especially new ones, struggle with getting enough gigs to establish themselves. If this is your challenge:
    1. Insure that the band is as good if not better than the acts that are competing for the same gigs.
    2. Insure that your marketing materials (website, EPK etc,) are complete and stand out from the crowd.
    3. Don’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring. Take the bull by the horns and learn how to book yourself. If possible (or necessary), finds a booking agent who believes in you and will keep your calendar filled for or with you.
    4. Ask someone else who you trust and who is good at sales to be your personal agent and make calls to book you for a percentage of your income.
  4. Inability to go to the next level. There can be many reasons for this, and so the solution lies in a deep self-examination. Some of the reasons acts hit roadblocks are:
    1. The act is not as good or tight as it needs to be. Ask for professional critiques on every aspect of your act.
    2. The act doesn’t stand out from the competition in any way. Find a manager or coach that can help you with this.
    3. Someone involved with the act has a difficult personality to deal with. This could be you, someone in the band, someone on your business team etc.
    4. The marketing materials don’t sell the act. Again, have a professional revamp them so they really sell you.
    5. The management team isn’t doing its job. Have very specific expectations of everyone on your team, and replace those that are under-performing.
    6. You’re simply not asking for it. Quite often you have simply priced yourself too low, or just haven’t knocked on the bigger doors.
  5. The act breaks up. Obviously, having to start from scratch is not a pleasant situation to be in unless it is your choice. However, if you’ve been building relationships in the business all along, you can easily capitalize on them to launch your new act. For example, if you got to know the entertainment buyers where you played, then it will be easy to call them up to introduce your new act. If they trusted you before, they will trust that your new act will be of the same or higher caliber. Build your Rolodex now so that re-building is not such a daunting task.
  6. No big break. So, you never got that big break you were counting on. Is that grounds for throwing away everything that you’ve accomplished to date? Is life without a gold record that unbearable. Is being a well-paid, well-respected, full-time entertainer such a bad thing? It is important to keep your perspective. Of course you want it all – we all do. But you will never have it if you give up. Instead, keep in mind that you may achieve your ultimate success in ways you could never have imagined. You don’t know what lies ahead as a result of your persistence that could give you more satisfaction than that gold record every could have. Just stay the course, continue your pursuits indefinitely and enjoy your life as a performer in the meantime.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of topics that can go into this category. But the truth is that these same obstacles crop up in every single business on the planet, not just music. Whatever you goal is, if you don’t want it with every fiber of your being, you will never be able to deal with the obstacles that are bound to be in your way. And if you do want it badly enough, mountains will move so you can attain it!


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.