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The Top Five Reasons Why Indie Musicians Quit
Having spoken to hundreds of musicians throughout my music career, it is interesting to note how some have let the dream fade into the past in favour of a life of normality, whilst others are still walking the yellow brick road in search of stardom. The question we ask is, why do people give up and what happens next?
If it's not already hard enough having to be the one man band in every area of musicianship, consider the amount of money which needs to poured into a single act in order for it to achieve notable attention and success. Most musicians are poor souls trying to earn a living from their talent. But talent alone doesn't generally take an independent master of music to the height of comfort and prosperity if he remains unsigned indefinitely!
The costs of reputable legal representation, CD pressing, professional studio services and equipment, to name just a few, are high enough to cause even a wealthy individual to hide away his wallet.
More and more musicians are going it alone in the hope that they will be able to snap a deal at some point, which would relieve the financial headache and burden. So they keep going and going until the coffers are worn thin. But still, for many, when is that break ever going to come?
It's a classic story. Bob's been playing in a band for six years. He has his heart set on stardom and fame. But then one day, along comes 'Mary,' who initially loves the attention he receives and finds the whole band thing gives her a buzz. She is drawn to his talent and his soulful, expressive hobby. But one day Mary wants to be the 'FIRST' most important thing in Bob's life and soon he starts to feel the pressure.
His attention to the game is emotionally driven off course, as he frets about how he now has less time to make music and his band mates think he should get rid of Mary! How can he let her mess it up? But Bob can't dump Mary because he loves her and despite this indifference their relationship has been truly wonderful.
Perhaps if he gives it a break for a few years he can always come back to it again, couldn't he?
3. Band Splits.
Yes it happens to the famous as well as the unheard of. Unfortunately disagreements are a fact of life. However if you are a band hoping to rise to the top, constant disagreements do not bode well for your musical career!
Some band members split and don't necessarily quit, but join other bands or go solo. It's much harder to pick up the pieces though if the band are already represented by an agent or label and have commitments to fulfil. The job of an agent or representative is to ensure that disagreements are solved professionally, and small quibbles may be solved over a drink and a game of pool.
Sadly though, getting a group of people to agree to each others opinions, future musical direction, (plus all the hundreds of other little decisions and details that require unanimous agreement) is more than impossible for a good length of time.
A word everyone in any industry or vocation is familiar with. If we never had any pressure we would take a lot longer to move ourselves out of the comfortable zone and into the firing squad. And boy do indie musicians get a lot of pressure!
They have the pressure to get noticed.
They have the pressure of making it big.
They have the pressure of making sales.
There is also the pressure to feed a family and pay all the general household bills before making it big.
Pressure is an enemy one can ill afford, but generally shifts us into fifth gear and keeps us soldiering on. I remember talking to a friend who gave up his indie career because the pressure of trying to get heard was causing him nasty headaches.
I remember his quote: "It'll kill me and I'll be gone, and then you'll hear my song on the radio". Needless to say once he relieved himself of that pressure the headaches vanished. He now works in an office position which pays him well, and he feels he is now compensated well for his input and knowledge.
Let's face it; we all have a competitive streak. It's what makes the world turn so rapidly and produces experts in all subject and areas.
For the indie musician though, the 'competition' is the biggest drawback to his chances of success.
"It's impossible! There so many unsigned people out there," he yells in frustration.
The competition we face today is more apparent due to the visibility of artists online trying to make their way to the top. If we were to go back to the highlights of The Beatles era, we wouldn't know who or where half of these aspiring individuals were!
As many musicians step upon the unsteady bricks of uncertainty; and try with all their might to achieve some online success, many are blown off the sidelines by even more fiercely competitive and power hungry individuals. The competition is so fierce that some eventually decide that it's not worth the headache or hassle, and just go back to making music for the reasons they intended originally for the pure love of it!
So there you have it. There are countless many more reasons why musicians quit, but then again, in all fairness there are countless reasons why many don't.
We love music and there will always be reasons to keep making it and proudly showing it off. So before you fall into one of those categories above, think hard about how you intend to manage your own music career and become a winner rather than a quitter.