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Bobby Borg

With all of the business books written about what one should do to succeed, it surprises me that so many musicians continue to do so many things wrong. From failing to follow-up, to failing to practice the attitude of gratitude, these five steps will immediately set your career on a brighter path.

1. Failure to Follow-up: It takes much more than sending one email to that booker or blogger to book you a gig or review your music. Sometimes it even takes calling back at a specific date and time as requested by a certain contact. Patience and tenacity in this regard are important! No follow-up, equals no gigs or reviews, which equals zero new fans and sales. That said, after sending off your initial correspondence (e-mail, Tweet, or whatever), follow-up in a week if the intended receiver has not replied. Repeat this technique or attempt to use another means of communication (phone, letter, etc.) if necessary. Keep notes of your attempts in a Microsoft Office Excel spread sheet. And remember to always be nice in your correspondences. The world owes you nothing.

2. Failure to be Gracious to Those Who Help: Most musicians will reach out to others (people in the press, bookers, etc.) only when they need something. Big mistake! When someone is kind enough to take interest in your career (by offering to play your music, write an article or blog posting about you, or give you that awesome gig), be sure to practice the “attitude of gratitude.” Send them a thank you card, mention them on your website, or offer to take them out to lunch now and again. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and thus the more grateful you are and the longer you keep them in the loop, the more likely you’ll be to get their help in the future.

3. Failure to Give Back: Many musicians make the mistake of being self-centered—it’s about what others can do for them. Wrong! If you want people to help you, learn “how to give back.” Seriously! Nothing is for free. Don’t just ask that well-connected musician to put in a good word for you on that big audition—instead, offer him a finder’s fee if you get the gig. Or don’t just expect that busy producer to record you at half price—instead, offer to record vocals on his or her songs to even-out the deal. And don’t just expect that music “mentor” to guide your career—offer to run errands for him or her on the weekends. Look, whether or not they take you up on your offer, it’s the gesture that counts. Bottom line: Give people an incentive to help you.

4. Failure to be Social on Social Networks: It blows me away how much time musicians spend online, and yet continue to communicate ineffectively on their social networks. They invite fans that live in Los Angeles to gigs in New York. They send impersonal messages to people they don’t know and say, “Yo, check out my song.” And they send friend requests without having a profile picture (they use that creepy default head). This is worthless. Careless promotion equals lost awareness and sales. Remember to succeed in the music business, you must be more personal with your fans. After all, it’s called “social” networking for a reason.

5. Failure to Delegate the Work: Many artists look at pursuing a career in music as a four letter bad word “Work,” and focus on getting a manager to help. But remember that managers get paid a percentage of the money you make, and the last time I studied math, 20 percent of zero was zero (meaning that there is very little incentive for an experienced manager to come aboard). Thus a group must first learn how to delegate responsibilities across all band members. The drummer can be in charge of booking. The bass playing might do all the social media. And the guitarist can be the one that seeks out music placements. If you’re a solo artist and don’t have other members to depend on, then you can enlist your super fans—those passionate fans that are willing to kill for you (everyone has at least one). So for the sake of clarity, to be successful, treat your music career as if it were a company with several departments all working toward a goal.

Music MarketingWant to learn more helpful tips? BOBBY BORG is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack On A Low Budget (September 2014). The book is available on Hal Leonard website under “Trade Books” (ISBN: 9781480369528), AMAZON, or Bobby Borg (

This Article: Copyright © 2014 By Bobby Borg All Rights Reserved. Not to be posted, printed, or used in any other way without proper attribution to Bobby Borg