This industry is 100% or nothing.
Is it possible to have a Skype with you on Saturday?
“The whole band can be on than on other days we work.”
“I can't meet that time because I pick up my kids from school.”
“We can't play there I have a family vacation to attend.”
I have seen so many variations on these sentences as different excuses to not make gigs or having a problem to just set up a meeting. All these excuses tell me is that your career is just not your major focus, something else is occupying your life.
It might sound harsh to tell someone to give up their children to make a career. It is, and you should not do that. What you have to understand is that if you can't commit 100% then do it as a hobby. What the industry is looking for are the people that want it so bad that they give up kids, family, work to be on that stage. I guess this is more like a lifestyle than a job. I even have heard that older stars that have been on the road are now considering the road more a home, a bit like a home away from home. It has to be your everything and when I speak to stars you can always tell how many bridges and relationships they have burned to be on that stage. Stop treating it like a 9 to 5 job, because it will never be that. It’s all or nothing.
If you have a job where you can't get off for 20 minutes for an important phone call, then I will bet you are in deep-shit when your career starts, and you must ask to be away for weeks. Therefore, you always hear that stars had these really shitty jobs before they made it. Mainly because they can’t have two separate careers. Their only choice was that stage and just to get by they flipped burgers or wait tables.
When the excuses come, it tells me directly that you don't have what it takes. Too many think they can work a little bit until it becomes so big that you can live off of it. Sorry, it’s not the case, then it is a hobby and stays a hobby. You have to have all your focus on this to make it since the competition is out of this world. It’s nothing that is just a bit “cool” to do. These people are easily taken out. Many go under a one-hit wonder category because when the reality kicked in, it was hard to keep up with it.
It's all or nothing. Its better you stay on at your safe 9 to 5 work and get your life around that if you have anxiety or control issues. The music industry is one big giant rollercoaster and you just have to hang in there. That is your job, not to try to control the rollercoaster.
The industry doesn’t care if you are picking up your kids at daycare. They don't want to have meetings on the weekend just because the band is free then. They will not adopt the tour schedule around your kids’ birthdays. If this is more important for you, stay with it being a hobby. You can still play great music and have fun. Don’t think that you get the same as the stars though, they have sacrificed so much to be on that spot. It’s not as simple as just writing a good song. It’s adopting a whole lifestyle.
This might sound scary. Still, It’s the same for professional athletes, I would love to hear the phone call when David Beckham tells the club he can’t join the practice because he must pick up the kids or that he can only practice on Saturday afternoons. Many other professions are the same. My guess is that politics have the same issues. And just running your own business is like that as well most of the time.
Never slow down. One thing I see is that people think that when they have done half the work, they take a break. I guess if you do that in the Olympic marathon having the lead and pop in for a quick burger and a soda and sit in the sun it will make some headlines. It’s the same in the music business, you just go on and on and on. When you take that break there is a big chance that you will stay on that level. It’s hard to get all these engines to start roaring again.
This industry is 100% or nothing.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems and publishing companies. He also runs several showcase festivals. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Superbowl.