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13 Mistakes That Kill Your Career

13 terrible mistakes that kill your music career

Disclaimer: This article is about maximizing your chances of survival in the music industry from a purely monetary perspective. So basically the article is about selling as much music or music related products and services as possible. All while keeping your artistic integrity. No matter what you chose to sell or how you chose to sell it.

The list below pretty much covers all of the commercial aspects though.

And it works beyond just selling music. You can sell anything with this method.

Mistake 1 – The BIG Elephant

Let´s talk about the big elephant in the room first.

The issue nobody wants to talk about.
It´s the the big mistake solo- and independent and even a lot of major artists still make. It´s …drumroll please: Focusing too much on the creation of the product.  There. I said it. Most artists focus way too much on making music. Now don´t get me wrong. Being all about your music is cool. That´s the way it should be. You are a musicians and not a publicist.

But if you´re not communicating and bonding with your audience enough you´re making a mistake. Because soon you won´t have an audience. No one out there is waiting for you to put out your next masterpiece.

In today´s day and age nobody got time for that.

There are bands out there that take 5 years or longer to make an album. Then they release it in a time span of 14 to 30 days without putting much effort in their launch. And when the album flops everyone freaks out. And they blame themselves, the economy or destiny. While the real reason for their failure was using the wrong communication strategy with their fans

Mistake 2 – Thinking of promotion as a „one off“ process.

Most struggling artists think that promotion is a one off process.  They think promotion begins with the album release and ends right afterwards. Which used to be true back in the 1990s. Now thinking this way is a recipe for disaster. The successful artists manage to create waves of anticipation before and AFTER a release. It´s a non stop process. And they do it without being awkward doing it. Which is an art. They found a way to connect to and communicate with their fans they feel comfortable with. Let´s go through the most important steps to sell your music in the long term.  And I´m talking about real long term like ten years plus. Like decades. Oh and these methods will work in the short run as well by the way.

Mistake 3 – Not build a long lasting bond with your fans.

Ask yourself: Why do some releases flop while others go through the roof? Is it just about quality of the songwriting, the production or the performance of the songs? Or is it all about marketing budgets and the right connections? Of course all factors are important. But there is a third more important factor that will make the biggest impact in the long run. It´s the connection to your fans. If you have a deep bond with your fans you´ll find that things become much easier. And selling music, merchandise, concert tickets or anything else becomes a natural process – instead of an  awkward ordeal. Most artists struggle getting their audiences attention for just a few seconds. Then they lose it. Only a very few artists out there have deep, long lasting relationships to their fans.

Mistake 4 – Not building rapport with your audience.

If your audience does not „feel you“, if they don´t click with you have failed to create basic rapport. They don´t feel a basic connection. The reason behind this is what you´re saying through your words, your music or your non verbal communication strategy is not UNDERSTOOD or LIKED by your audience.




Mistake 5:  Choosing the wrong audience 

Losing the connection with your audience can have many reasons.One of them could be that the people you think are fans are just a casual audience that isn’t interested in your music or what you have to say. Many musicians chose the wrong audience and mistake passive social media followers with real fans while most of their followers only liked a song or two.

They lost the connection (if they ever had one) to their fans because they´re not being understood or not liked .


Mistake 6: Not communicating the right way.
The third mistake is that while you have exactly the right audience you still can´t connect. The reason: You´re not communicating the right way. That usually has to do with a lack of experience and routine in mass communication.

It´s actually a huge challenge if you think about it. You have these fans that are individuals that you have to communicate with simultaneously.


So you can´t do it on a one to one basis. You have to do it in a personal fashion using mass media.  That´s tricky.
You have to know what to talk about. You have to know what topics your audience loves. You have to know what your fans are passionate about.

A lot of our work is about coaching musicians to get to know their fans better. That´s how important it is.
If you don´t know them you can´t communicate with them.


Mistake 7: Not building  a following before release

Not building anticipation before your first album release is one of the first mistakes.

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
In the music industry this isn’t a philosophical question. If a tree falls in the forest and you don´t create a HUGE outreach campaign to go with it NO ONE HEARS IT and NO ONE makes any money.

You have to create a following before you put out anything major. And you have to create anticipation so your audience knows about upcoming releases months ahead before they’re ready for release.

Today it´s best to let the audience witness the creation process and give them snippets or „in studio“ sessions so they can follow along and give feedback. Fans want to belong. If you give them a chance they´ll help you out and feel great about it. So let them.

Mistake 8: Not building a following during the release. During record release all eyes should be on you.  As a musician starting out you´ll never get more attention than during the launch phase. Most musicians make a terrible mistake in that phase. They don´t focus on collecting fan contacts. They fail to collect email and physical addresses.

Instead they rely on fans finding their social media profiles  by themselves. The first problem with that is most never click your profile if you don´t tell them to. Or give them a good reason to do so.  The second problem is that you can´t rely only on social media.

Mistake 9: Only using Social Media –  not diversifying.

All social media companies are notorious for changing their terms and conditions every few years.
You´re never sure if you get to keep your fans or if they limit your post reach to something like 5%. Like Facebook did. Or if they become a ghost town like MySpace.

What´s MySpace you ask you? – Exactly! If you can´t reach your fans you can´t sell your music.

And having to pay for posts for your own fans shouldn’t be your goal either. Ideally you have multiple social network connections as well as e-mails and phone numbers. Professionals have all the above as well as physical mail addresses to run special promotions. So while it´s cool to focus on the trendy-schmendy social media properties out there you´ll dig your own grave if you don´t diversify.


Mistake 10: Not building a following after the release.

After the release is before the release. It´s all about cycles or waves. And what you want is to create a tsunami. You want to build momentum and use it to win more and more true fans, that in turn bring in even more fans. If you just stop collecting and connecting fans after your release and go back to the cave you´re losing everything you worked for. You must keep on communicating.

Mistake 11: Stopping communication.

Stopping communication at any time is problematic. Of course that doesn’t mean that you always have to be online and you´re now a slave to your phone or the keyboard. But any kind of unannounced pauses that go on for TOO LONG will sabotage your communication efforts. Out of sight out of mind. You have to develop a strategy that helps you to continue your communication. Most professionals use automated email and social media posts for that. If you mix those programmed posts with live ones you get a good mix without having to be stuck on social media all the time.

Mistake 12: Not knowing yourself and your audience. 
This is the biggest mistakes most musicians make. It sabotages their
career in every way possible. If you want to focus on just one thing then concentrate on building self awareness.  Focus on self knowledge! Get to know yourself. Then get to know your audience. Start finding out who your true fans are.  If you got this one thing dialed in all other parts will become easy and intuitive. If you don´t know who you are you cannot communicate. You cannot communicate without knowing your own values. You can´t build trust without knowing what your fans want.

Mistake 13 – Stopping to learn.

Stopping to learn and grow will sabotage your career. You´ll only succeed by continuously improving your skills and learning more about yourself, your fans and your genre.

Did you enjoy this article?

We have surveyed thousands of musician to find out their biggest problems and challenges.  And we researched what makes musicians successful.
Want to learn why some musicians struggle while others succeed without much effort?

Want to learn how to find and connect to your true fans? Want to make (more) money with your music?

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