The Four Keys to Musical Success

by Jeffrey Fisher

The four keys to your success are talent, creativity, self-promotion, and relationships.

Your talent must be as good or better than others offering the same music products and services. How are you different? How are you better?
What you do and how you do it in new, creative ways helps you set yourself apart from the crowd. Stuck in a musical rut? Try these ideas.
1) Learn to play a new instrument. The different perspective can help you expand your musical boundaries.
2) Listen to other music besides what you like. Don’t stifle yourself in a musical cave or risk becoming a musical snob.
3) Get in the mind of another composer by imitating their style. Write as Mozart would. Or Sting. Or?
4) Compose in a style or musical form that you’ve never attempted before. Try string quartet.
5) Write multiple variations on a simple theme. Try writing Row Row Row Your Boat in rock, rap, jazz, orchestral, and new age. Leave your comfort zone and open a new doorway. It just might lead to your best musical work
Promoting and selling what you do is crucial to making your career the way you want it to be. Nobody beats a path to your door. You must take the initiative and promote yourself ruthlessly. Research your prospects carefully. Don’t go into a sales meeting blind. Find out what the prospect is about and custom tailor your presentation accordingly. You’ll impress them with your knowledge and that you took the time to discover more about them. When you can work a few specific examples into what is usually a generic pitch, you stand a better chance of getting the gig. Where do you get the info? Usually just a Web site visit or a Google search or two will turn up these data you need. For a recent meeting, the prospect was very impressed that I knew so much about their situation. My custom laptop presentation made a distinct impact, too. I’d even anticipated some of the questions he would ask and already had the answers prepared for him.
Your enthusiasm, both for you own work and for client projects, is the easiest (and cheapest!) promotional tool you can use. My experience shows that when two competitors have identical proposals, the vendor with the zest and emotional appeal always wins. People constantly remark that my enthusiasm shines through when we talk. I can safely say that my attitude has won me more work than any single credential.
Building relationships with other people — who you know (and who can help you) — is vital to maintaining the longevity of your career, too. Networking is a key element to establishing and sustaining your success. You need two distinct networks. First, build a support network. Creative people need nurturing. Sometimes you need somebody to hold your hand while you cross the street of uncertainty. Other times you need a cheerleader to scream D-E-F-E-N-S- E in times of strife and to yell HOORAY when you succeed. Second, you need a network of people who can help you. This network includes people in the industry, media, and others. The best way to build this network is to join and participate with the right people. When you are at stores, industry events, trade shows, meetings, and more, make sure you have a supply of business cards or other promotional material. Talk with everyone you meet and don’t be shy about letting people know what you do. It might help if you practice describing your work in 20 words or less, too. Help people first and give them something of value they can use. At that point you are in a prime position to get something in return — some form of promotion, even new business. Go out of your way to help people because the reward is so great. It’s the professional and noble thing to do and highly effective for the success of your business.
80% of your business come from 20% of your clients. These anchor clients should be the major focus of your promotional and sales effort. If a moneymaking idea doesn’t lend itself to a major client, then I caution you to pursue it. Making it up in volume in today’s economic environment will often strain your resources. Also, have you thanked your best customers lately? Have you expressed your gratitude to the people who have helped you along the way? If not, today is a good time to let everyone know how much you appreciate their support. Be humble and be generous. Take the time to express how you feel and the reward will be greater than you imagine.

Use these four keys to make your musical career better.


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