This Article Originally Published June 2000

by Kenny Kerner

What keeps many of us from achieving success in the music business is that we really don't know who we are. That's right. We may think we do, but we don't. To be truly successful in any field of endeavor, you must first know what it is you can do and what it is you cannot do.

A professional baseball team has a battery of coaches to instruct each and every player. The coaches go over every conceivable flaw in a player's fielding and batting habits and make him aware of his strong points as well as his weaknesses. For only after he is made aware of his weaknesses can a player overcome them and aspire to greatness. The very same rule is true in the music business.

All too often, musicians take on more than they can handle. Many musicians find themselves singing in groups when they can't even carry a tune in the shower! Others feel it necessary to play lead guitar when they have barely mastered the three-chord progression. Then there are those who are compelled to write all of their band's material when they are having considerable difficulty in writing the alphabet. But why does all of this happen? Why do we take on more than we are capable of?

The most obvious answers are ego and convenience. Because we want to believe that we can do it all, our ego allows us to believe that we can. Because we don't want to go through the hassles and inconveniences of finding another lead guitar player, we conveniently tell ourselves that we play guitar well enough to handle the leads. No fuss—no muss. The results are, of course, devastating.

Before you set out on that long and winding road to stardom, know yourself and your limitations. Know what it is that you do best, and get others to do what they do best. If the very structure and foundation of your band is weak, your career will eventually collapse.

Be true to yourself, to your capabilities and to your art. Don't let anyone, for any reason, tell you what to play or how to play it. Write and perform only what you feel deep inside your soul—whether or not it is popular at the time.

Remember that this is the music business, and if you play your cards right, you should be able to earn a living for many years to come—with or without a record deal!

The above was excerpted from the book "Going Pro" written by Kenny Kerner and published by Hal Leonard corporation.