The Career Dos And Don’ts of Incredibly Successful Artists

become a successful musician

Want to be a successful artist – don’t listen to everyone’s advice (except ours)

You may be thinking that the reason most successful artists got where they are now simply because they were talented, and extremely lucky.

Well, it’s probably true in some part.

Being good at you do is definitely going to make it easier, and you can’t really account for sheer luck. But there are many other things an artist needs to bear in mind if they want to make it big. And there are plenty of others they should avoid like the plague.

We’re going to introduce you to those do’s and don’ts that can make or break you career.

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Do: Find Your Niche

You can recognize successful artists immediately. It’s not just media exposure and good marketing, they all have something that makes them unique, something that you can’t find anywhere else. It might a really special voice, a certain mixture of genres, or just the way in which they present themselves.

Whatever it is, it is theirs and theirs alone. Nobody needs twenty artists who all do the same thing.

There are two things you need to consider when searching for your niche: you and your audience. Every successful artist probably has hundreds of influences, and things they like. Some make perfect sense, when you consider what they do, others are completely unexpected. Their style is crafted from this eclectic mishmash of things they like, respect, or want.

Simply listing all of these things is not going to do the trick however. You need to bundle them up in such a way that they become meaningful to someone else, just like they are for you.

Successful artists always keep in mind who they are talking to, and as their audience changes, so do they. Because art is all about communication, and if the person you’re talking to doesn’t get the message, there’s no point in sending it in the first place.

Don’t: Ignore Your Audience

Purists are always hyper fearful of “selling out”. And there are many who believe that listening to your audience is selling out.

There are plenty of sad stories out there about great stars who just wouldn’t listen, and slowly faded into obscurity because, in their heart, they believed ignoring the public was the right thing to do.

But the public is an artist’s best critic.

In the end, they are the ones for whom the message was intended. If it doesn’t work for them, there’s nothing wrong with the audience. They never asked for the artist’s stuff, so why should they be blamed when they don’t like it?

Do: Look After Yourself

Any sort of career can take an immense toll on your well-being, and working in the entertainment industry can be even worse. The hours are long, the work is hard, both physically and mentally. There’s a lot of pressure, and there’s always a degree of uncertainty when it comes to the success of your work.

Plus, there are all sort of temptations scattered about.

become a successful artist and musician

Don’t be afraid to listen to your audience, it doesn’t mean you are a sell out

Ignoring your health, hoping that everything is going to work out is not an option for successful artists. They can’t just go on vacation when they feel like it.

Luckily, nowadays you can access all of your healthcare info via online platforms, like the Kinnser page, or use phone apps to monitor your vitals, and craft a workout routine that suits your needs.

Don’t: Listen to All the Myths

Bear in mind that the public persona of an artist has to be coherent. So, obviously a rock star is not going to brag about how many salads he had that day, or how much fiber she eats in a week.

Obviously, there are some who have gone overboard on some occasion, but the stories are often inflated, and some tend to take on a life of their own. These myths are so pervasive, fans might even end up ignoring the facts.

Take the legendary band, Pink Floyd. There’s this myth their music is drug-inspired. When asked about this in an interview keyboardist Richard Wright said, “If you mean Pink Floyd took drugs – you’re wrong. There is no way that I could play music and take any kind of drug at the same time.”

Do: Use All the Tools at Your Disposal

From playing laughably small gigs, to recording their work on cassette tapes, many big names started out really small. They did whatever they could to put their work out there, and get noticed.

Artists now have an immense range of tools at their disposal. There are online tutorials, to get a grasp of the basics, and websites where you can promote your work.

Every successful artist uses all of these tools to stay in touch with their audiences, get feedback, and give their audience access to their work. Facebook can be a really awesome promotion tool, if you know how to use it. Twitter helps artists stay connected with their fans. To say nothing of the fact that many artists are now exclusively publishing their work online, and providing only limited edition physical copies of their stuff.

Don’t: Keep It All to Yourself

No matter what means they had of reaching their audience, and future fans, all artist put themselves out there. They didn’t sit around until a great music producer happened to walk by, and discover them.

Opening up to the public before you’ve made a reputation for yourself is definitely scaring, but it’s the only way to go. Ultimately, that’s what separates talented people from talented people who were successful. The guts to go out on a limb, and hope for the best.

Break Down Your Career Path Into Steps

Most big artists are going to admit that they’ve had a lifelong passion for what they do. In practice, that passion translated into hours upon hours of learning, training, moving on from smaller audiences who had no clue who they were, to bigger and bigger ones, putting out demos, and finally recording an album, or landing a small part in a movie.

how to promote live music events

Performing can be intoxicating, just don’t let yourself get too intoxicated

Any artist knows that success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s good to stay focused on your dreams, but there’s a long way to go, and if you don’t take it one step at the time, you’re never going to move forward.

Successful artists knew where they starting from, and they knew where they wanted to go. They all started out small, and even if they did it instinctively, they all had a plan.

Planning out your career trajectory year by year, month by month helps you stay sane. None of these great artists could have been certain they were going to be successful. But they relished every minor victory, and stuck to the plan, and eventually they ended up where they wanted to be.

Don’t: Jump Straight In

Jumping straight in might seem tempting, but it’s going to leave you exhausted, and ultimately you’re not going to get anywhere.

Plans might be boring, but they give you structure and they tell what you what you should focus on. Hitting a milestone gives you the sense of moving forward, and that’s the feeling everyone needs to hold on to, when they feel they’ve hit an obstacle.

There are plenty of talented people out there, but not all of them are going to be successful. And, in the end, relatively speaking, nobody is. Because success isn’t just something you achieve, and then it’s done. There’s always room to grow, so if there’s one secret all successful people share, is that they’re always ready to adapt, and take on the next big challenge.

This article is a guest contribution from freelance writer and music buff Marc Mendelman

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for &

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.