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Here’s How to Fail as a Musician…

by John Oszajca on June 2, 2011

How to fail in your music career.I try to avoid ever writing anything when I’m in a “mood” but today is a bit of an exception…

Here are 3 ways to absolutely guarantee that you will fail as a musician.

No musical legacy, no limousines, no fancy house. Nada!

Just follow these steps and you will almost certainly get to spend your life working that crappy “day job” and talking to your friends about the good old days when you used to be cool.

If any of that stuff touches a nerve, you might want to rethink what you’ve been doing so far to get your music career off the ground.

1. Expect Someone Else to Make Your Career Happen For You…

Ever notice how many musicians state that they “hate marketing”, or, “hate business”?

I think I might throw up in my mouth if I hear one more musician state that they are “an artist”, and that they don’t want to have to pay any attention to the actual business aspects of music. It’s as if they think they are somehow above it all.

I can’t tell you how many musicians defiantly state that all they want to do is focus on writing, recording and performing, and that they want a manager or a label to take care of everything else.

Here’s the thing… No shit!

Who wouldn’t like that? Sounds friggin’ awesome. I’ll just sit around and be too-cool-for-school and wait for someone to realize how completely rad I am. Let me know how that works out folks. And we wonder why there are so many homeless jokes about musicians.

I have worked in nearly every corner of the music business. I’ve worked as a club promoter, a producer, a music marketing consultant, and of course as a major label recording artist just to name a few. I can tell you first hand, the people who succeed work their asses off… and it’s only getting harder.

With the amount of passion, talent, and sheer love of the craft that so many of my fellow musicians have, I can’t for the life of me figure out why more musicians aren’t also learning the craft of marketing and making it a major part of their career.

Marketing is power, don’t confuse it with the message…

We hate marketing because so much of the marketing we experience as a consumer has a crappy message behind it. But if you are sincere about your product and respect your audience, marketing is simply a tool of expression.

By becoming a student of music marketing and the various facets of the music business, you are empowering yourself and taking responsibility for your own destiny – as an artist as well as a human being.

We are still at the dawn of the technological revolution. Never before has a musician had as much control over the circumstances of their own success.

I think many musicians suffer from a bit of confusion about what marketing actually is. Marketing is not Facebook, or Twitter, it’s not how your website looks, nor is it whether or not you get reviews in magazines or spins on the radio.

Marketing is understanding who you are ultimately selling to, and then presenting your music in a way that aligns perfectly with the needs and wants of those people, with the ultimate goal of closing the sale. Everything else is just a tool with which you can accomplish this.

2. Obsess Over Making Everything Perfect…

Another great way to fail is to never get your music out there in the first place.

Too many musicians spend years trying to get their product absolutely perfect. I can think of one musician I know, (I’ll keep his name private), who has been working on his album for over 10 years now. He’s currently re-recording it for the 3rd time. I don’t have the heart to tell the guy, but with his current attitude, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Your music is your story. Tell your story at all costs. That is what you do… or, at least, what you are supposed to be doing.

If you have an A-list producer and $300,000 budget then by all means, make yourself a kick ass big-budget record. But conversely, if all you have is “Garage Band” and an acoustic guitar, make a solo acoustic record on your computer for God’s sake. Hell, I don’t care if you can even play guitar. You’re a musician! Make music any way you can.

It doesn’t matter if you tell your story with a vintage Less Paul or a friggin’ leaf blower. Just tell your story. Create art that is “cool” and present it to the world in an interesting way. If you have something special in you, people will hear it and you WILL be on your way.

At the very least you will be one step closer to creating your masterpiece. Nothing helps you develop faster as an artist than recording. It externalizes the process and causes you to learn and grow as a result.

From a marketing standpoint, having product allows you to go out there and start building that fan base now and after all, that’s the point; to be heard. Do it, and do it now. Be whoever you’re going to be. Life is not going to wait.

And finally, if you really want to make sure you fail as a musician…

3. Resist Anything That Requires Actual Effort…

At the risk of being obnoxious, I do REALLY well with my online businesses. In fact, over the last few years I have generated over $2 million in sales. As a consultant I have orchestrated campaigns that have broken various sales records.

As a result, I get approached nearly every day by musicians and even friends, asking if they can hire me to consult for them and handle their entire marketing campaign.

The reality is that my plate is just too damn full to take on many individual clients, so for the most part, I am forced to politely decline.

However I typically try to suggest that anyone can do this themselves and that all you need to do is build a list and learn some basics of copywriting. I explain the “sales funnel” and talk about how well it’s worked for me.

I can see people start to get excited. Their eyes get focused; they start to visualize a future where they are able to quit their dreaded day job.

Then they ask the big question… How much work is involved?

I tell them the truth…

If you’re just starting out you’re going to need to really put in a few months worth of work or so until you have the hang of it. You’ll need a squeeze page and you should really get a blog going as well. You’ll need to set up an autoresponder and learn the basics of direct response marketing. Once everything is in place you want to really monitor your results so you can get a good read on your conversion rates and subscriber value. Once you have that info you can outsource the whole thing and get back to focusing on the music… or whatever business the person happens to be in.

By this point the spark has already begun to fade. Their eyes glaze over and their expression says what they’re actually thinking.

Fuck it… That sounds like too much work.

I want you to think about how insane this is for a moment.

I basically tell someone how they can accomplish their life long dream of building a real audience, selling albums, and quitting their day job. But the second they find out a little work is involved – screw it.

People are literally choosing a life of artistic obscurity rather than putting in a bit of hard work.

Most musicians spend 3 or 4 years at a minimum learning their instruments before they even dare join a band or perform live. They’ll drop tens of thousands of dollars on gear and recording costs, but a few months of learning about the actual business of music – forget about it.

It honestly doesn’t make much sense to me.

—————————————————-

And there you have it folks. A fool proof, three step plan for failure in the music business.

No time, energy, or money required.

All you need to do is hold on to that belief that marketing is evil, stay away from anything remotely difficult, and wait around for some savior of a manager or record label to show up on your doorstep and make you a rock star. Instant results are guaranteed.

—————————————————-

Why the rant?

You may be aware that I recently opened the doors to Music Marketing manifesto 3.0”.

MMM 3.0 is a complete home study course which lays out a systematic approach to selling music. It’s based on PROVEN marketing strategies and is focused on generating an actual ROI (return on investment).

The course contains over 40 videos, a custom MMM website template (powered by WordPress), PDF workbooks, email templates, case studies, bonus audio interviews, and an interactive members area were you can ask questions along the way and get direct assistance from me and my team.

Imagine that… musicians who want to take their careers into their own hands, roll up their sleeves and do a little hard work to turn their music career into a lasting, viable, and, of course, PROFITABLE affair.

That is what Music Marketing Manifesto 3.0 is all about. It’s a program for musicians who understand what marketing is, and how essential this stuff is for our careers.

Now – as I’ve already touched on – Music Marketing Manifesto 3.0 is not for everyone.

If you’re still of the mind set that “marketing is evil”, or that you would rather wait for a record label to come along and make you a rock star, this is probably not for you.

Music Marketing Manifesto 3.0 is for musicians who are serious about making a life in music. It’s a program for musicians who understand what marketing is, and how essential this stuff is for our careers.

As excited as I am about the Music Marketing Manifesto 3.0, I’m also a bit disheartened.

I have received thousands of emails from musicians over the last few months. While I truly dig hearing from you guys, I’m surprised by how many barriers to success many musicians throw up for themselves.

I see people skipping an important strategy simply because they can’t figure out a way to come up with $20 a month for an email management system. I also come across many musicians who are convinced that a record label is the only path to success. Many musicians don’t see that the very attitude they have about how a career in the music business is “supposed” to be, is the very thing holding them back from success.

I don’t doubt that many of you reading this are amazingly talented people. I’ll bet that a few of you reading this will go on to be big stars. I’m just concerned that perhaps some of you are waiting for the world to come to you, when in fact; you need to be taking your gift to the world.

I’m going to end this rant with a question, and I’m being completely sincere here…

DO YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO MAKE IT AS A MUSICIAN?

Or do you find it easier and safer to just say that the music business is fucked up and if you don’t succeed it’s the fault of the industry or the collective bad taste the masses have in music?

I’m honestly not being facetious or sarcastic, in this last bit here.

In fact, if you’re struggling with your music career and you genuinely want to succeed, but maybe you just need a little bit of guidance…

…then post a comment below and let me know what you’re having trouble with – I’ll answer your question here on the blog promptly.

Forgive me if a lot of the post came off as overly sarcastic or even arrogant. Most of it was meant to be playful. With that said, I do see a lot of frustrating characteristics amongst my peers. I sincerely want to help change that and help you guys succeed. Despite my flippant attitude in this post that is truly all I’m trying to do here.

Here’s to your music career and a SUCCESSFUL future.

Sincerely,

– John Oszajca

Music Marketing Manifesto 3.0 is now open to the public. Click here to learn more >>>

{ 116 comments… read them below or add one }

Brett April 9, 2015 at 3:34 am

I am very interested in subscribing and couldn’t agree more with everything I have ever heard from you. My biggest hold up is that I have never been able to pinpoint that “target market” and more so how to reach them without spending serious money to get those potentially interested people into the sales funnel. Maybe my whole take on the music industry has become a bit jaded in my views over the years but the fact that I have a bachelors degree in business and 15 years experience as a touring musician in other people’s bands yet still can’t find that target market for my music and how to reach those leads me to believe it is time to grow up, quit chasing childhood dreams and get a real job. Is finding that specific market and then actually how to specifically go about reaching them directly with a squeeze page part of what there is to learn from you? I am well versed in other aspects of marketing in general, I feel confident that if I were simply connected with an audience (potential customers) that I could successfully market my product. Does this mean I already possess the needed skills and simply don’t have a market? I have pursued a career in music plenty long enough to not have any money and aside from useless things like marketing to friends on Facebook the marketing streams and other ways to get customers to come across a link to my page just cost way to much.
Initially getting Internet traffic to my music is the absolute most difficult piece to the puzzle, if the only way to do so is with purchased ad space at this point I would probably be best off to try my luck playing the lottery.

So, what would you recommend… Starting a weekly lotto ticket routine or enrolling with you?

-Brett

Reply

John Oszajca April 10, 2015 at 1:28 am

Hi Brett,

Thanks for your interest. I can totally understand where you are coming from. I often hear from people about finding their target market and getting traffic to the site. I also appreciate that you have previous experience running paid ads, only to not really get anywhere with it.

One of the most common issues that I see with artists is that when they are running paid ads, they are sending the traffic to a Facebook page, or possibly a site like iTunes or Reverbnation, but unfortunately none of those options give you any way to take advantage of the traffic you receive, aside from hoping you get a like, or that people buy your music at that very moment. However people will not likely buy, the first time they are exposed to you, which is exactly why I recommend people drive all cold traffic to a squeeze page.

Doing so allows you to convert that traffic into an email subscriber, which then becomes a real asset. When you build your subscriber list, a measurable percentage of the list will take you up on your offers to buy music, when you ask them to. Obviously there is a short period where you need to do some relationship building with your subscribers, so that you can effectively build up interest and desire in people to want to buy your music, but you are also building up good will and influence, so that they will buy when you ask them to.

Inside of the MMM 3.0 course, I have lessons specifically regarding traffic. For paid traffic, I typically recommend Facebook ads because their ad platform really lets you dial into a market and test it via your squeeze page. The more tightly you target, the more effective your ads and squeeze pages will be.

There is also a module for free traffic. However free traffic is more of a long-term, cumulative approach to getting sustainable traffic. After a while, both types of traffic work hand in hand because while you’ll be paying for traffic on the one hand, you’ll also be picking up free subscribers as well, ultimately lowering your cost to acquire subscribers across the board.

If the percentage of subscribers buying your music is normal and reliable, then you can effectively gauge how much you can afford to spend, while still getting a positive return on investment with your paid ads. Plus, the MMM course shows you how to incorporate and upsell into your funnel, so that you can earn potentially much more from fewer people, furthering the potential for positive ROI. Getting a positive ROI is really what the MMM 3.0 process is about.

You can find out more about MMM 3.0 here:
http://www.musicmarketingmanifesto.com/manifesto.html

Thanks again and let me know if I can ever help with anything else.

Reply

Brett April 10, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Thank you very much for such a quick and informative response, I can see why you are a successful person in general! All of that definitely makes great sense; I have become so aggravated and hopeless with the music industry that I think my negative views have been keeping me from connecting the dots to the bigger picture that you paint in your take on the industry which is clearly not dead or purely evil lol. Since I was a child I have always wished I could have been around in the late 50s and onwards through the 60s and 70s for many reasons but especially because of the music industry. I know it wasn’t all glamorous by any means but I think it is my admiration of what the industry was like and how it worked for career musicians in that era that has kept me from recognizing that there is still plenty of potential out there, the path to success in the industry has evolved in a digital manner even more than I had realized until what I have gathered from you has led me to understand. So, thank you for that! I got a business degree purely in the hopes that it would improve my chances at becoming a successful musician but even with the specific knowledge and experience I have in the modern business world I simply looked right over the real potential sitting right in front of me. I even preach to others that “making it” and “getting a record deal” are no longer synonymous and that anymore musicians can do the exact same things that once only a label with authority and the abilities they posses could. I knew it was out there somewhere but even though I have for several years now been right at the front door of the successful path I had no idea that I already had all of the pieces that just needed to be put together. I was pretty well convinced that the lack of consistant success I have obtained at this point was clear evidence to any wise person that it just wasn’t going to work out. To make this long essay that I just typed out of excitement short, I am a believer and in the efforts to correctly and effectively put those pieces in whixh I already possess together I shall be investing myself in your course! Thank you very much!

-Brett

Reply

John Oszajca April 11, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Happy to help, Brett. The industry is much different today, due to digital medium, as well as the affordability of home recording.

Where it still differs for the “industry” compared to the artist, is that major labels have money to throw into projects and still fail because one success more than makes up for the many failures. The independent artist doesn’t have the money to play that game, which is why taking a more direct and targeted approach is more ideal these days.

The method I’m teaching allows you to effectively test a market on a small budget and monitor your metrics to see how your marketing efforts are producing. From there you either abandon what’s missing the mark, or scale up what’s working. That way you can tell whether or not you are seeing a positive return on your investment, or pursuing a channel that’s producing a loss. If you took your marketing budget and dumped it into something you can’t track, like radio for instance, you wouldn’t be able to tell until you’ve spent all the money whether or not the promo was effective. If it wasn’t, where do you go from there?

At least with channels like Facebook advertising, like I recommend in MMM 3.0, not only can you tightly target your audience, you can see if your ads are getting clicked or not and make adjustments. If you are sending that traffic to a squeeze page, like I outlined in the blueprint video, you can also measure the percentage of visitors who are signing up, compared to those who don’t. Plus you can measure the effectiveness of your overall sales funnel, to tell you the value of each of your subscribers. If your subscriber value is more that your cost to acquire subscribers, then you are profitable and can scale up.

Make sense?

You can find our more about MMM 3.0 here:
http://musicmarketingmanifesto.com/manifesto.html

Let me know if I can ever help with anything else.

Reply

Brett April 11, 2015 at 7:10 pm

It all makes wonderful sense! Your methods are clearly the wisest way to pursue success for anyone eager to develop in this area of the music industry. Even after years and years full of constant struggles with the music industry I still have the drive required in order to achieve success with these methods but it’s the sad reality of the financial issues I currently have (as a result of putting every part of myself into unsuccessfully chasing the music dream for so long) that are currently my biggest obstacle. I feel like every day I age sets me one step farther away from potential success but I’m not about to let that stop me now. With your help I have re-identified the focus of my efforts and will be enrolling with you as soon as my financial matters permit me to and still be able to afford basic advertisement all while trying to do so without giving my wife good reason to kick me out :) Thank you again for everything, I niw have a much needed newfound confidence in myself and the potential I have as a musician!

By the way, though you recently enlightened me on some of the industry specifics I have always had a great appreciation for the importance and abilities in marketing; I have many many musician friends that are in a similar spot as myself that I am eager tell and send your way!

Thank you very much for your time
-Brett

Reply

Jonathan February 13, 2015 at 10:15 am

Hello John

Loved the post, so much do it’s convinced me to join up so I’ll see you soon.

Cheers
Jon

Reply

John Oszajca February 14, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Hi Jonathan,

Really happy to hear that you’ve been digging the posts. Thanks for tuning in. Looking forward to seeing you in the members area soon.

Please let me know if I can ever help with anything.

Reply

Robert Koyich December 20, 2014 at 3:58 pm

What if the want is to sell albums, though the fear of fame and being well known conflicts with the heart in whether to sitch into a mass marketing effort?

Reply

John Oszajca December 23, 2014 at 1:37 am

Hi Robert,

With this approach, you are selling directly to your subscriber list and your sales numbers will be in direct proportion to the size of your list.

As your list grows, so will your sales. So while you might get famous within your own email list, this approach is quite different from a mass marketing campaign, like you might see from a major label. This is strictly an online model for selling music.

That said, this model for selling is scalable, meaning you’ll be in control of how much exposure you are giving yourself.

You can find out more about MMM 3.0 here:
http://www.musicmarketingmanifesto.com/manifesto.html

Thanks and let me know if I can ever help with anything else.

Reply

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