Slow-Cooked Success

One of the musicians in a coaching session this week wanted to know why he couldn’t expect to “get huge” in the next thirty days before his unemployment ran out. He got a little upset when I suggested he might have bigger things to worry about in the short term than completing the music industry equivalent of the “Hail Mary Pass.”

Unless you stumble upon an extraordinary amount of media coverage in a short period (a la William Hung), it doesn’t work like that. And even then, that flashpoint of attention doesn’t convert to a stable, long-term music career. Look at the real success of folks like Gwen Stefani, or Collective Soul or any of the folks I wrote about in Grow Your Band’s Audience, who were grinding it out for years in order to reach real solid success.

A few of my regular coaching clients talked to me this week about using their day jobs as incubators — we make sure they’re learning great skills during the day that they can use to advance their music careers at night. And it’s that slow, building success that allows you to make a healthy transition into full-time musicianship without enduring the rollercoaster.

Put another way, anybody that tells you that you can go from zero to 100% success in the matter of one radio promotion campaign, or one tour of a foreign country, or one appearance at an industry showcase doesn’t have your interests at heart. As Seth Godin points out, the big, dramatic push you’ve been sold doesn’t have a lasting effect. Yet, many of the questions I’m asked at live events are things like, “I know you don’t like [this strategy], but because we’re really going to make it work, how can we…” And that’s usually the point at which I storm out of the room. Sometimes, we let ourselves get sold on what’s easy or what’s expected because it’s what we see everybody else doing.

If you do what everyone else does and expect a better result, you’ll be the first in line to kick yourself in the butt later on. Instead, focus on the small things you can do differently every day to move yourself forward. It may take a little longer than you want right now, but your gains will be real, and you won’t endure the shock of a crash when your real, perfect audience is there to support you.

8 responses

  1. Joe,
    Thanks for the great article. Patience is difficult to maintain when you want your career to catch up with your dreams, or your work to match the hit songs in your head.

    As an avid home recording musician, taking a single day at a time and focusing on individual tasks jas become crucial to progressing with my music, especially under the constrained schedule of an intense day job. But you’re right, the long term rewards are great.


  2. Great article. I have always been fascinated by the study of success and had observed a lot of people around me who are otherwise very ordinary (sometimes ..boring) who are great successes in what they do and foud out their absolute focus on little things and a very small twist in their strategy to otherwise straightforward script..

  3. 7-10 Years? I played guitar 21 years before they every paid me to do a solo concert…if you get there too fast you can’t spot problems before they arise

  4. Overnight = 7-10 Years

    Joe Taylor put up a kick ass article today about

  5. Do The Right Thing

    Seth’s Blog points to a wonderful post by Joe Taylor that I wish lots of people I know would read.

  6. Slow-Cooked Success

    Link: Slow-Cooked Success. Great post. I’m going to have my musician/song writer son read it. Thanks.

  7. Rock Stardom: “Slow-Cooked Success”

    A nice article by Joe Taylor about the investment in time required to become a successful performing and recording musician: Unless you stumble upon an extraordinary amount of media coverage in a short period (a la William Hung), it doesn’t…

  8. Great Article. I am a producer for an indie label Silver Dragon Records. This is what i have been telling artists who want to sign with our label and make it big overnight. Slow burn success is what artist in our area like Lazarus X have mastered. Build fans slowly and building on that success by connecting directly with the fans.

    Thanks for a great article.

    Mike (Producer SDR)