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November 10, 2010

To thine own self be true

Being tall doesn't make you a good basketballer. Being fast doesn't make you a good footballer. Being smart doesn't make you a good doctor. Those things help, and it's more difficult to succeed without them, but they're not enough on their own.

There are many other aspects to making any kind of career, most of which involve years of learning, training and development. A great deal of teamwork is also required, whether team mates are on the field or in the coach's box, or wearing a physiotherapy coat during rehab sessions.

Similarly, being good at playing guitar or singing doesn't make you a rock star. If you're not prepared to put the effort into developing as an artist, learning to use technologies, meeting people, doing accounting etc, you will struggle to build a career as a professional musician. The careers of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and U2 took years of growth and the support of many non-musicians.

Building a sustainable music career is too big to do alone. The key too growth is to know your strengths and weaknesses and work to build a team that takes on the responsibilities at which you are weakest and allows you to concentrate on your strengths. This is the tentacle metaphor at work and the reason to build esteem among peers and colleagues.

If you're honest about your strengths and weaknesses, team building can be prioritised and strategised. You may need help with publicity or accounting but are confident booking gigs. If you have a bandmate or peer - or even a fan - who's good at those roles, figure out what you can do for them and do a contra deal. If it works, everyone moves ahead and you're relieved of a burden into the future.

Remember that it is perfectly fine to only want to play a covers set at the local bar once a month with your mates but there's no glory in being a Hobbyist-in-Denial. The success of the music industry has always been based on the efforts of amateur and semi-professional musicians in finding talent, grooming talent and giving talent an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

There are no right or wrong answers to questions of your musical ambition. Perhaps your Glorious Musical Future lies in giving up dreams of super-stardom and helping others to achieve their musical goals.


A brutally frank self awareness is essential if you want to reach your goals. This helps identify aspects of a music business that take up time that would be better spent on other things and finding someone else to share the load. Sometimes this involves knowing that you love performing and writing but suck at it. Some of the best and happiest agents, managers and publicists were once wanna-be performers.

This post is one section of Part 3 of Dr Huge's "How the record industry got it so wrong". The latest version of the complete ebook can be downloaded here and a hard copy can be ordered here.
Posted by DrHuge at November 10, 2010 8:22 PM

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