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#151;though we very seldom pay attention to it.

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. That is, if you have any career at all.

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. Always remember that an audience can tell if you are sincere.

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! Today's music market caters to the indie artist so it is even more important to stack all of the cards in your favor. It is more important to be all that you can be, to borrow a phrase. It is even more important to be better than good. It is essential to excel!

For only if you truly excel will people stand and take notice. And that's when your phone will start ringing off the hook.

Excerpted from the book, Going Pro by Kenny Kerner, published by Hal Leonard. Available at all bookstores and at

About Kenny Kerner:

Discovered and produced KISS. Also produced albums for Gladys Knight, Jose Feliciano and Badfinger. As a publicist, he represented Michael J. Fox and Jay Leno. Was the former Senior Editor at Music Connection Magazine and wrote a best-selling music education book called "Going Pro" Kerner is currently the Director of the Music Business Program at Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Specialties include Personal Management, Artist Development and Music Business.

Kenny Kerner
Musicians Institute
Director / Music Business Program
(323) 860-1122
Fax: (323) 462-6508

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