Doing What You Have to Do to Succeed as a Musician

Updated on November 30, 2017
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Bob Craypoe (also known as R. L. Crepeau) is a musician, writer, webmaster, 3D artist, and creator of the Punksters comic strip series.

There are times when a musician may face various obstacles that may serve as a serious source of discouragement. But in order to overcome those various obstacles, certain measures need to be taken. Those are the things you will have to do in order to make progress or to succeed.

Dealing With Other Musicians

One of the biggest challenges a musician may face is trying to put together a band with people who all have the same goals both musically and professionally. By musically, I mean the type of music you want to play as well as your repertoire, sound and so on. Basically the music itself. That alone may cause enough conflicts between the members of the band to cause it to break up.

Another issue a band may face might be members who are unreliable in some way. They could be late to gigs or practices, not learning the material as they should or just not dependable at all. Sometimes they just can’t seem to get along with anybody, including or especially the other band members.

The problem individual may be a friend. Sometimes that creates a reluctance to get rid of the person. But if one person is really preventing the band from being able to play out because he is holding everything up for whatever reason, he needs to go. Sure it’s not a pleasant thing to have to do and maybe you even think that the person is so good that it would be difficult to replace him with someone of equal ability, but an average singer who is completely reliable and makes it possible for you to play out is better than an extremely talented person who can’t even show up. So you do what you have to do. Get rid of the dead weight.

As I stated above, sometimes other members of the band may have different professional goals. Some may just want to play out and others may want to concentrate on recording and not so much on playing out. You need to have a group of like-minded individuals. Sometimes you have to get rid of that one guy who thinks differently.

Taking Some Financial Risk

Being a musician who wants to make money playing out means that you must have the equipment necessary to do so. That involves some monetary investment. After all, equipment costs money. That is why you need to prioritize as to what equipment purchases should be made. High on the list should be the items you absolutely need in order to be able to play out. So those toys that you think are really cool that aren’t necessary should probably be put on the bottom of the list.

Music equipment is costly. For some things, it may require two or more band members to pitch in. Maybe for the sound system you need, one guy buys the speaker and the other buys the mixer and power amp. That might might the purchases a little easier. And if you go your separate ways, you could still take what you bought with you. In any case, equipment costs money and one of the things you usually have to do is spend money.

One tip I could give you when making music equipment purchasing decisions is to ask yourself if it is something you need or just something you want. If it is something you need, you could still postpone the purchase up to the point where you absolutely need it. One business principle is to not spend money on something until you absolutely have to. But, in the end, you do what you have to do. Since there are no guarantees of success, expensive equipment purchases are, to some extent, a financial risk.

Making Time to Do What is Necessary

Preparing to be ready for steady gigs is a time consuming process. You have to learn the material, do individual practice and be available for band rehearsals. This may require that you drop other things that you like to do. Maybe you like to go fishing or bowling or whatever. Now, as a member of a band that wants to go out and do steady gigs, you just might be able to do some of those things. You may not be able to spend as much time with your family either.

Serious musicians who have experience playing out generally know what it takes to get out there and play. They realize it takes a certain amount of material to play a two hour or four hour gig. They have some idea as to what equipment they will need to get out there and play. It’s the inexperienced guys that don’t really know yet as to what it all involves.

Experienced people know how much time really needs to be devoted to their music in order to be ready to play out. That’s why, when you put together a band, you are better off if you have as many band members as possible with experience in playing out. You will at least know that they have some idea as to what it all takes to get out there playing and you know that at least, in the past, they have been willing to put in the time necessary. They say the best predictor of someone’s future behavior is looking at their past behavior. If they’ve put in the necessary time before, then they will be more likely do so again.

Practice, Practice, Practice

If you want to be out there playing, you need to practice. This is especially true if you need four hours or so of music. I’m not just talking about practice with the band. You need to practice on your own too. You need to make sure you learn the songs on your own time and not on the band’s practice time. The band’s practice time is for you to put it all together with the band. That means that everyone should know their parts.

Are you able to put in all of the individual practice needed? That is probably one of the most important aspects of it all. You have to practice songs that you have already learned so that you don’t forget thema nd you have to practice when learning new songs. There is no way around it, you simply have to practice. So one of the things you must do is make time for individual practice.

This is one of the areas that often separates the wannabes from the people who actually do it. The people who actually do it are the ones who make the time to practice. They are the ones who make sure they know all of the material. They are the ones that show up to the band practices and the gigs on time. Oh, and they practice, practice, practice.

With or Without Someone Else

I once read a book a while back that talked about a principle called “WOWSE.” That stands for With or Without someone else. That basically means that your plans coming to fruition should not be too dependent upon the participation of other people. For example, if you bass player is giving you a lot of problems, get a new one. There are a lot of bass players out there. So if your is unreliable, get a new one.

I have played out as a solo artist for a good number of years. I wasn’t always a solo artist. In fact, I originally preferred being part of a band rather than being a solo performer. But after many years of dealing with a good number of unreliable people, I decided to go solo. I ended up getting more gigs as a solo artist than I got as part of a band. But other people that I have been working with just did not have the same level of dedication that I had to the music.

What I mean by being unreliable is that the people in question just did not learn the material as they should have. We got together and practiced for months and had hardly any songs to show for it. This was because certain people did not learn the songs on their own time and wasted the band’s practice time by learning the songs at the practice. That just doesn’t work. So after months together we would have only about a dozen songs down.

So since I had been getting jerked around, I decided to give going solo a try. You see, since I really wanted to do it, I was determined to do it with or without someone else. The point is that if you really want to do it and if you really are dedicated, you will do it. You won’t let anything stop you. Those other people that I had been dealing with did not go on to play a lot of gigs like I had done. It’s because they did not have the dedication. So if you are really dedicated and determined, you will do it with or without someone else.

Bottom Line

If you really want to do this music thing, you have to have a certain level of dedication and drive. You have to be willing to put in the time, effort and sometimes money. that’s just what you have to do, there is no getting around it. So if you really want to do it, you just have to do what you just have to do in order to succeed as a musician.

© 2017 Bob Craypoe

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