By Bobby Borg

I once heard someone say that pursuing a career in the music business is no different than learning to cook. You can follow a specific recipe to the very last ingredient and still end up with unsatisfactory results.

'Although there are no rules or guidelines that can ensure a prosperous and long lasting career in the music business, there are number of proven tips passed down from seasoned professionals that will at least point you in the right direction. This month's tips include:

Come to terms with the economic realities of the business

Realize your dreams by visualizing them first

Prepare for the long haul by becoming financially sound

Expect the worst to happen so that the worst won't seem so bad.

Whether you're a musician trying to make connections and get gigs or a band trying to get signed, these motivational tips apply to you!


Understand that there are far easier ways to make money than being in the music business. Most musicians don't get involved in the business simply because they're looking to cash in. In fact, to most, music is akin to a fever that never goes away. It's an addiction. A need to express one's self. For those musicians who are in the business only to become wealthy, they're fooling themselves. Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but the majority of bands never reach the financial security they dreamed of, even after being signed! Make sure you're playing music because there's nothing else that you'd rather be doing. You've got to love it! If you can make a lot of money doing it, then that's icing on the cake.


In the early 1990s, in a small club called the Button South in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Marilyn Manson gazed out into the audience and said, "One day I'm going to be a pop star who shocks the world." He truly believed this. Over ten years later, with one successful album and tour after the other, Manson was more than right.

Visualize your dreams. As the old saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." If you can hold a picture of success in your mind, and support it with faith in yourself, your subconscious will bring it to pass. In the best selling book The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind, author Joseph Murphy calls this the mental-movie method. In his words, "Act as though I am, and I will be."


There are countless stories about individuals who move to the "big city" and give themselves six months to "make it." Needless to say, this is completely unrealistic. You'll either end up returning home broke, or living on a friend's couch. Be prepared both mentally and financially to spend years pursuing your goals. Find ways to live comfortably while working towards your dream. If you do, you'll be in a better frame of mind to make the connections you need without appearing desperate. Success won't happen overnight. Billy Mitchell sums things up once again: "Too many of us think that the world of music is a magic carpet ride, from the garage to superstardom. It ain't. It's blood, sweat, and tears—and then you still might not get the gig." Learn to be simultaneously persistent and patient.


David Geffen once said jokingly, "There's your plan and there's God's plan, and yours doesn't matter." Realize you can't control everything that happens to you in your life. Focus on the positive but remember the old saying, "Shit happens!" Bands get dropped from their labels, tours get cancelled, names get misspelled on venue marquees and in magazines, bands break up, and people may even try to rip you off. It's an inevitable part of pursuing a career in music and one aspect that's certainly not for the thin-skinned. Expect to be knocked down, but learn how to get up quickly and see the lesson in every negative experience. In order to survive in the music business, you must be resilient. To sum things up, author John Kabat-Zinn, in his book Wherever You Go There You Are, says, "You can't stop the waves, but you can surely learn to surf."

Bobby Borg is the author of "The Musician's Handbook: A Practical Guide To Understanding The Music Business," published by Billboard Books. For more or

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