The Reason Why Your Music Career Doesn't Grow
by Dan Vasc
Once upon a time in a faraway land there was a small and peaceful village. This village was the home of two fishermen. One was very poor and could barely make enough to not starve. The other was very rich and was able to not only live well, but to keep raising his profits each passing year. The people in the village looked at the poor fisherman and said: “Poor man, he is just unlucky.” The people in the village looked at the rich fisherman and said: “Blessed man, he was graced by fate.”
The poor fisherman was pretty much at the same situation where he started. He got himself a fishing rod, a can of worms and spent all day on the village's river catching several small fish. By sunset he went home and grilled the catch of the day to feed himself and his family. On the next day he had to wake up early and spend all day at the river all over again, if he wanted to keep eating.
The rich fisherman also started just like the poor fisherman: with a fishing rod and a can of worms, spending all day at the same river, catching several small fish. By sunset he went home bringing his catch, but he wouldn't let his wife grill it. “Those are not for eating,” he said. And on that night, he and his family went to sleep with their stomachs empty.
Next day he went back to the river, this time bringing his fishing rod and the several small fish he caught the day before. Instead of using the usual worms for his fishing, he used the very fish from his previous catch as bait on his fishing rod. At the end of day he was bringing home fish of three, four, five times the size of the previous ones. He used part of this catch to feed himself and his family, and was able to sell another great part of it on the village's market. Several days passed before he needed to go back to the river and repeat the process, but this time without going hungry.
Soon he stopped going to the riverside at all. He was able to afford hiring someone else to do it for him. It started with one employee. Then three. Then five. Then ten. Eventually he was capable of selling to other nearby villages as well.
The people in the village looked at the poor fisherman and said: “Poor man, he lacked an opportunity.” The people in the village looked at the rich fisherman and said: “Blessed man, he was chosen by fortune.” The end.
I made up this little story to be able to show you clearly what is one of the main factors that causes the great majority of musicians to have stagnant careers, never managing to move forward. Could you find out what it is already? Do you, like the villagers, really believe that the rich fisherman just got lucky, unlike the poor fisherman? Or do you think there's more?
Yes, there is definitely more. Let us trace a parallel line between those fishermen story and YOUR current story right now.
So, you finally were able to make some money as a musician. Maybe you got your band's first paid gig. Or maybe you got your first student, or first session work. Or you even read my article about creating residual income with music, have implemented those ideas in your career and now you're harvesting the first results. That's great! But what purpose will you give to those new acquired resources? Will you just grill it or will you bring it with you back to the river to be transformed in more abundance?
Many musicians take what they earned, as soon as they did, and find a way get rid of it. They buy that new TV, buy those new cool shoes, go to party with their friends, buy that awesome new video-game, or smart phone, or whatever junk you can acquire that won't be putting money into your pocket, but taking away from it. Is there something wrong in doing those things? No. Many people do it. And that's why not many people make it, in music or any other industry. They spend what they earn in the critical moment when they should be investing it to grow their capacity to earn more, like the rich fisherman did.
The ultimate message of this article and the key to understand the success of all the rich fishermen that we have around the world starts with this: Spend less than what you earn and invest the difference. It may seem common knowledge, but it's definitely not common practice.
“But Dan, I need to eat and pay rent! That's where all the money I earn goes!” If you are able live with what you earn – and it is your case since you're here alive reading this – then you are surely able to live with a little bit less. It all comes down to the question: How bad do you want success in your life? Find the answer to that question and you will also answer how much you should save. I personally like that famous saying “Save until it hurts.” Do you crave for the fulfilment of your dreams bad enough to the point of lowering your own life comfort standards no matter what they are? I can guarantee you that most successful people did.
Stop being satisfied with small catch and start bringing your earnings back to the river. Turn your money back to your career. Save it to get that awesome producer to work on your album. To get that amazing musician to play on it. To get that piece of equipment that's missing for you to start performing live. To make that instructional material for you to sell. To get that home studio completed for you to start doing session work. To get better instruments, better equipment, better logistics, better knowledge, to be a better professional! No matter how small your catch has been right now, start bringing it back to the river and you WILL catch bigger fish. Stay strong, motivated and on fire. See you at the riverside.