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How to Develop a Longterm Mindset for Your Music Career

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By Joseph Capalbo

Success with music typically takes a lot of hard work and time invested (and with very little guaranteed in return!). Since many sectors of the music industry require a long-term strategy, it’s important to create a mindset that’s going to provide the longevity it takes for you to make it there.

So, I wanted to share my experience in developing some of the mindset tools that I’ve come to employ myself, in order to make it out there without burning out.

Create a Personal Music Routine

Many of us still have to work a day job which leaves us very little time or energy for anything outside of it. Finding a functional time of day, or during the week, that holds you accountable to sit down and work on your craft is essential for most people to stay consistent. Most musicians will carve out time before or after their work day, or at the end of the work week, to focus solely on their music.

This routine should include a cutoff time for our own physical and mental health. Routines are meant to act as guidelines, so be forgiving of yourself if you have to break the routine every once in a while; but be hard enough on yourself to incentivize sticking to schedule.

Developing a Balanced Mindset

Once you’ve created a functional music routine, it’s important to now create a mindset strong enough to will prepare you for any of the progress or setbacks that will come your way. This includes a variety of “soft skills.”

Here are some of the most specific soft skills to attain.

1. Humility

We all start somewhere and the first step is typically the toughest. Most people usually don’t take that first step because of a fear of the unknown:

“What happens if I post my original song and no one likes it? What happens if I release my song on Spotify and it doesn’t perform as well as I had expected?”

These are some of the most common questions that songwriters ask themselves in times of panic. A musician with humility is exposed and vulnerable — but it’s the lack of fear of judgement from ourselves and others that allows us to put content out without that obstacle in the way. 

The first post you put out (or even the first hundred posts) might not get any attention; but we all start somewhere. And even as a fan or listener, it’s enjoyable to watch artists and musicians grow as they take that journey. That brings me neatly into the second point.

2. Patience

After we take our first step, it’s common to become anxious for a spark to go off right away. We strive for millions of streams, viral videos, and all of the eyeballs of the world to be on us. Sadly, the vast majority of musicians flee the scene because they don’t make it within the first year or two.

Aside from the rare cases, it requires a lot of traction to build a music career — whether that’s building your résumé for clients you’ve worked with, building your monthly listeners over time, increasing your follow count for more attention, or even networking your way to a sizeable contract or collaboration.

Embedded in all of this is having to remain patient; despite your hard work, success may take a while to catch up with you. It’s important to recognize that “time” is demonized by society as something we always lack and never have enough of. Structuring your personal music routine with this in mind is important, when it comes to mapping out your longterm plans; because a lack of patience may cause you to burn out if you push yourself too hard, too quick.

So, what should we be looking for as success, anyway?

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3. Redefining Success

One of the biggest mistakes musicians make is that we do it for all the wrong reasons. Fame and money are too often glorified by society as “the ultimate pinnacles of success.”

When you realize that you’re putting in hours to impress someone that you went to school with, to gain the acceptance of a family member, to look cool in front of your friends, you’re setting yourself up to flame out in disappointment. Although it’s not uncommon to use these as motivating tools, these aren’t good enough reasons to stick with music for the long run.

Your success should be based around you. I create music because it makes me happy. I wake up every morning with a smile because I’m able to do what I love. Remind yourself why you started music in the first place, and redefine the parameters of what success means to you personally, so you can hold yourself accountable to that.

4. Gratitude

Developing a mindset of gratitude is helpful for preventing burning out and bringing you back to the original state of what music meant to you when you started pursuing it. If you need to, take a quick step back and remember how lucky you are to have found a source of happiness in music.

Here’s a working mantra I sometimes use, feel free to customize it:

“We’re lucky to be able to do something we love that can be so therapeutic in our lives. We’re lucky to live in a time where we can easily share our musical creations with just one click. We’re lucky to live in a time where technology allows us to easily make our own creations. We’re lucky to have more time to be working towards something that makes us happy and we don’t have to rush toward it.”

This can help you realize how much easier you have it now than musicians before. One’s goals are easier to attain now than ever, but you have to prepare yourself to be ready for it.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “Fear of Success Is Real. Here’s How I Found Out I Had It.”

Physical and Mental Health

It goes without saying that keeping your mental and physical health in line is important to be able to do the above consistently and effectively. Practicing the strategies above will provide you with a healthier mentality that will provide the longevity needed to continue working towards what you love.

Here are a few articles from right here on Flypaper that can help you further develop your mental and physical strength for working in this industry:

Although this is just one leg of the long march toward success, these attributes will make the journey much easier and provide longevity in the process.

Joseph Capalbo is a Soundfly Mentor. Click here to work with him to achieve your next musical goal.

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