Sometimes pursuing an unconventional path can feel lonely. With an increasingly saturated music market, fierce competition, distorted social media expectations, and evolving income streams, you might think your efforts are for nothing. Even worse, you might find yourself losing motivation and stalling altogether!
Here are some tips and reminders to help you build your confidence and stay on track:
Assume your audience wants you to succeed.
You are your own worst critic. While people are often pretty vocal about their criticisms (especially online), usually your audience is there because they are expecting good things from you. Sure, there will always be those who don’t like your style–everything isn’t for everyone. Just don’t forget that people have free will, and they won’t support you unless they want to.
Focus on growth.
It’s important to hold yourself to high standards, but forward motion is key. Do at least one thing to up your game every day, no matter how small. If you’re a self-taught musician, try a crash course in music theory. If you’re a vocalist, learn the audio engineering basics to help you get the most out of recording sessions. Over time, these kinds of improvements add up to significant gains that not only build confidence, but create the momentum you need to succeed.
Celebrate small victories.
Don’t be afraid to share the things that give you a sense of accomplishment, even if they might seem minor to someone else. If you find yourself worrying about whether or not to express yourself this way, you’ve probably let our old friend fear get inside your head! You are allowed to be happy about what you do, and your true supporters will celebrate with you because they want you to succeed.
Spend the hours.
There’s no way around this one: you’ve got to put in the time. Many things that stop us from succeeding–from performance anxiety to the fear of failure–can be quelled by just getting your head down and working hard. When it comes to technique, consistent practice results in increased muscle memory, enabling quicker learning, application, and performance.
If you want the world to know what you can do, you have to show them, and not being at the level you want to be at shouldn’t stop you. For music producers, consistently making and releasing tracks helps you develop a body of work you can look back on, while also setting new precedents and raising the bar for yourself. If you’re like most of us, the time will never come when you’re 100% happy with your skills, sound, and equipment, so embrace public growth and mark your progress by putting your work out there.
Do. Not. Compare.
Maybe you’re intimidated by the successes of your peers, or you’re embarrassed for holding on to your dreams while your friends are achieving traditional milestones. Don’t let Facebook and Instagram fool you–everyone has problems that you’ll never know about. There are vastly differing paths to success, so it’s hardly useful to compare your own journey to someone else’s. Instead, focus on what you do well, and keep doing it!
Do it for you.
The best way to enjoy your days while guarding against disappointment is to do what you love, because if you don’t meet a defined goal, you’ve at least spent the time on your passion! Trends and tastes change, but what makes you happy is up to you, and you alone. Your uniqueness is your secret weapon, and if you truly love what you do, it’s good enough with or without material success. Most of all, you are the writer of your own story. Make it an authentic one!
What helps you stay motivated in music? Let us know in the comments!