What is Stopping You? – A Letter from CEO, Vinny Ribas

©2010 Vinny Ribas
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t have someone tell me their musical dreams or goals, yet only one in a hundred is doing anything towards attaining them! Songwriters plan to write 100 songs this year, but they don’t have any songwriting appointments and don’t set time aside every day to write. Artists can see themselves on the biggest and most prestigious stages, yet they are not taking voice lessons, booking themselves, consulting with an image coach, working their social network sites, building a fan base or doing any of the other things that must be done to reach the top.
When I hear these things, I have to ask what is holding them back from going after their dreams full force. The most common reasons I get are “I don’t know how”, “I don’t have the time”, “It costs too much”, “It’s too hard”, “I can’t do it alone’, “It’s too risky” and “I don’t know!” So, I want to look at each of these and help you get around the challenges. The purpose of this article is not to put you down for not moving forward, but to give you options. That way, if you really want it, there is absolutely no reason on earth why you shouldn’t be moving your career forward at lightning speed!

  1. “I don’t know how”. If you have a favorite food that you’d like to cook at home but don’t know how, what do you do? You might check the cookbook, look online for the recipe, or call someone who probably knows how to prepare that meal. If you want to repair a broken window but you don’t know how, what do you do? My guess is that you would do the same things that someone looking for a recipe would do – find the procedure in a book, check online or ask a friend. There is nothing that needs to be done in your music career that isn’t written somewhere, or shared on a video, or that someone else can’t explain to you. For starters, you can check the Indie Connect website. There are over 125 articles, 40 hrs. of videos, podcasts, tools, 125 resources and more. If you can’t find it there, come to one of our Indie Connect meetings (or NSAI or Meetup) and ask someone. Chances are you will find the answers you need! There are always people who are willing to help someone else who is motivated. You might even consider hiring a music coach.
  2. “I don’t have the time”. We are all pressed for time. However, we always seem to make time for the things that are important to us. How important is your music career to you? Important enough to take 30 minutes from watching your TV shows? Important enough to wake up 30 minutes earlier so you can get at least something done every day? Can you hire someone else to do the things you don’t have time for? Can you barter with someone? Can you get an intern who will work for free?
  3. It costs too much”. Whether you want to accept it or not, music is a business, and you are an entrepreneur and business owner! Can you name another business that can give you the kinds of rewards that music can but that doesn’t cost anything to get into? Think about the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that it costs to get a college education. Being in the music business is cheap compared to most other businesses. But if you simply don’t have the money, how about starting with the things that are free, such as online marketing. Also, can you barter something you have or can do for what you need? Can you pay someone on commission to do some of the things that need to be done? Can you find investors? Are you confident enough in your success to take out a loan? Can you get a grant? Can you teach, sing on demos or do something else to create income that you can reinvest into your career? Get creative. There are always ways to get around the money challenge.
  4. “It’s too hard”. Life is hard. Working a full-time job for a limited paycheck is hard. Relationships are hard. But somehow you fight through them, don’t you? Compare the effort it takes to be successful in music with the reward of finally getting there and doing what you love and are passionate about for a living. The first thing I would do is break everything down into small baby steps. Pick one aspect of your career and do just a little each day until you master it. Then move on to the next. Consider hiring an assistant. You could also join an artists’ or songwriters’ support group like Indie Connect, NSAI or your local music-related Meetup group.
  5. “I can’t do it alone”. No one can. It is important that you find other people who will support you, whether they are family, friends, other artists/writers, or professionals who are actually on your team (manager, booking agent etc.). You find them by networking, both live (preferably) and online. Ask for referrals. You can also utilize your fans to do a lot of your work. Of course, it is much easier to attract help if they can see that you’re giving 110% already. Be sure to offer your help to others in the areas that you are strong in. People love support givers and run from takers!
  6. It’s too risky”. Yes, there is risk involved. But there’s risk in taking a job too. Any time someone else is signing your paycheck, there is the chance that one day they might decide they don’t need you any more. When it comes to your music career, the first step in overcoming this is to list out all of the risks, including financial, your investment of time, the impact on your relationships and anything else that might be impacted. Then determine how much risk you are willing to take in each area. Lastly, put things and people in place, in each area, that will minimize the risks to keep them within your threshold.
  7. “I don’t know”. This reason usually comes up in 1 of 3 situations:
    • When someone is scared, overwhelmed and/or confused about the whole process. In this case, the answer is education. Once you’re familiar with what needs to be done, it doesn’t seem so scary. In fact, building a career in music is quite methodical. Indie Connect, support groups and getting a mentor are all ways to put the process in perspective.
    • Lack of confidence. The solutions to this are to improve your skills, try them out in inconsequential situations (small gigs, home recording etc.) until you see that enough people truly enjoy your music and would be willing to come out and see you perform or buy your music. Once again, this just means taking baby steps. It can also help to have a coach, a mentor, the support of an organization etc.
    • When someone really doesn’t want it badly enough. There is not enough drive, motivation and passion about it to demand activity. You might consider just doing music on the side. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll determine that the time is right for you to make a serious move towards making music your career. And again, if that never happens, that is perfectly OK!

Once again, the reason I wrote this is to illustrate that no matter what the barrier is between you and success in the music industry, it is never insurmountable. Be creative. Be determined. Be resilient. Call in favors. Get other people to buy into your vision and passion. Surround yourself with people who have the same determination that you do so you are motivating and supporting each other. Make things happen despite all of the reasons why you shouldn’t, and I guarantee you we’ll see you at the top!
Thanks for checking out the magazine! Have a spectacular day!
Vinny Ribas