Are you a frustrated musician?
It’s been my experience that musicians get frustrated for a variety of reasons – record contracts gone sideways, unreliable band members, stagnant career growth, even popular music can sometimes drive musicians nuts.
But despite all the frustration, pursuing your passion is worthwhile. You are wanted. Your music does matter.
So, if you’re looking to find your pathway as a musician, rest assured you’re in the right place at the right time, and it’s my hope that you will be inspired by this guide.
My Own Embarrassing, Humiliating, Defeating Frustrations with Music
I want to start this off by sharing some of my own frustrations with you.
If I named all the ways I’ve been frustrated as a musician, unfortunately, we’d be here all day.
I’m an award-winning composer for crying out loud! And I’ve still got a laundry list of failures and grievances.
Keep reading to find out what some of them are…
Preparing for the Tour That Never Was
When I was first getting started in music, it was all about booking a tour. That’s what I thought you did if you took music seriously.
So, I started putting together this postal mail campaign with my band, and we prepared 150 letters to go out to various Canadian churches.
And then I don’t even remember how many letters we’d prepared for US churches, but it was well over 1,000, maybe even closer to 2,000.
Anyway, first we sent out all Canadian letters and we got three responses back. There was a gig that almost got booked, but it just never happened.
And then when it came time to send out our US campaign, we didn’t realize how much it was ultimately going to cost.
So, those letters sat there for a while, and eventually got recycled.
Making Music & Not Knowing What to do with it Next
Then the next thing was, “Hey, I should get an album recorded.”
Because if I have an album, there are all these other great opportunities. I could get my music into films. I could start booking gigs. There are all kinds of opportunities I could pursue if I just had a recorded album.
My first band ended up recording an eight song EP (heard in the video below).
We were known for our improvised jams, so half of the tracks on that album were improvised.
And that was a fun experience, but the band broke up shortly after.
That was before we did any kind of distribution with that music. Unfortunately, it ended up being a homespun project.
It did get out to some people, and they enjoyed it. But it never went anywhere after that, and physical copies are very rare and hard to find.
Eventually, I got a solo album recorded, but then I realized I needed to promote it, or no one was going to buy it.
I figured I could sell it at the guitar store since I had guitar students. I could sell it at my gigs and so forth.
And I was trying to find a way to sell it online too. But that was a very long process. It took a long time to figure that out.
Trying to Create a Local Gigging Circuit
And all this time I was performing and gigging and getting out there.
But soon I realized that I had to start finding more gigging opportunities because I was only aware of so many venues locally.
And after my band broke up, I became a solo artist, so that immediately limited some of the opportunities available to me.
Booking then became a major area of focus, but it took many, many years to start filling my calendar with a variety of venues and gigs in my locality.
Creating a Fan Base
Once I started figuring out the gigging aspect of things, I had to start creating an engaged fan base that cared about what I put out into the world.
And that turned out to be even harder.
There were people that stopped supporting me completely after a while, and at times I would find myself having to rebuild my list from scratch!
Sequencing is Critical for the Frustrated Musician
One thing I can tell you from experience – and you may even be realizing from what I’ve already shared with you – is that sequencing is more critical than most artists even realize.
In five words:
There’s an order to things.
And if you don’t follow the steps, you’re sure to end up dissatisfied, unhappy, and frustrated with your progress.
Take a page from my book:
Touring was not the right place to start for my band.
Jamming, writing songs, getting better as a band, performing locally, gaining some experience, establishing a groundswell of a fan base… that should have been our first major focus with that group.
Your next goal is what’s right in front of you. But you need to have enough of a bird’s eye view to be able to see what that is.Your next goal is what’s right in front of you. Click To Tweet
How to Transform Your Experience as a Frustrated Musician
Now I want to talk about a few things many frustrated musicians don’t really do. They get very frustrated without engaging in certain activities that could end up helping them long term.
Investing in Your Personal Growth
The first is investing in your personal growth.
You could call it self-improvement, personal development, or otherwise. But sometimes it gets a bad reputation with artists.
The thing is, I can tell you from personal experience that the right materials can help you get unstuck and feeling motivated again.
There isn’t necessarily anything magical or woo-woo about it.
But if you engage in the classics (like Think and Grow Rich, How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Magic of Thinking Big, etc. – you can also see our top recommended books here) and utilize time tested principles, you’d be amazed how much your life can improve.
I personally started an intensive yearlong leadership program last June, and I can honestly say almost a year later, my life doesn’t even look the same.
Everything around me has transformed. The world doesn’t even look the same to me anymore.
I totally understand that you’ve read countless blog posts, you’ve listened to podcast episodes up the wazoo, and you’re drowning in videos.
How do I know that?
Because you’re here right now.
And you’re reading another blog post.
But what about investing in your growth in a more directed way? After all, you get what you pay for.You get what you pay for. Click To Tweet
If you just keep going after the free resources, and don’t take them seriously, nothing’s going to change in your music career.
Why not begin to explore resources on marketing and sales? Because that’s the biggest mover in any career.
How about self-confidence and leadership skills? These help you think bigger and have a better mindset.
And what about courses on branding and storytelling, so you can attract the audiences you’re fighting so hard for?
When you expand, the world expands, but when you shrink, the world shrinks.When you expand, the world expands, but when you shrink, the world shrinks. Click To Tweet
Finding an Experienced Coach
The next thing is finding a coach.
You would do well to understand that some of the highest performing people in the world have coaches, be it Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, or Tony Robbins.
Look it up! I’ve got time…
Now I’m not here to sell you my coaching services, though, I know I could help you. Because I’ve been in your shoes, and I’ve been frustrated. I’ve probably experienced whatever it is you’ve experienced.
The point is, do you have an outside perspective on your career, someone who can ask questions and guide you? Someone who has connections and access to resources you don’t?
Sure, you can find them all on your own. But do you have 10, 20, 30 years to dedicate to researching? Because the best musician coaches have already invested that amount of time into their skills, knowledge, and experience.
You can spend all your time trying to find the right resources on your own. Or you can leverage someone who already has a catalog of experiences to draw from.
It’s just like hiring a mechanic. You pay them a premium for knowing what to do, regardless of how easy or difficult the task ultimately is.
We take for granted that our car will probably be sitting at the shop all day before we even get it back, when your mechanic could have done all of 15 minutes of work and charged $200 for it.
Pivoting and Finding a New Path for Your Music Career
One last thing I want to talk about is pivoting and finding a new path.
Sometimes, based on the how things have gone, it’s necessary to adjust your approach.
What they don’t often tell you, though, is that small tweaks can make a bigger difference than you even realize.
Sometimes there aren’t big adjustments to make. A little tweak here, a little tweak there, and things can begin to work.
For instance, at Music Entrepreneur HQ, when we launched our PDF Vault offer, we started to see an uptick in email subscribers.
So, we started focusing on this offer over the countless others we created – many of which were complete duds.
There’s no point in fighting a current that’s working against you. Go with the flow.There’s no point in fighting a current that's working against you. Go with the flow. Click To Tweet
But please understand, don’t just read this blog post and go, “Oh, I’m going to pivot and find a new path for myself.”
I don’t advise pivoting without direction and guidance. Best case scenario is you leverage the help of an experienced coach to help you make the adjustments you need to make.
So, go and seek out expert advice. And barring that, go and talk to your most trusted friends, preferably with experience in this area.
Conclusion, Frustrated Musician
In conclusion, if you’re frustrated, I’ve got you, and I’m here for you.
Name a frustration, I’ve probably gone through it. And I talked about a bunch of those earlier in this guide.
But rest assured it is possible to find your path, even if it doesn’t look entirely as you expected it would.
A little change here, little tweak there. Maybe a small pivot. And you might even begin to see things work as you’ve never seen before.
I invite you to stick around, because you might learn a thing or two from our over 800+ post archive designed to inspire and help create the life you love through music.