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The 5 Most Common Challenges Every Musician Face and How to Handle Them


Every musician, whether a beginner or someone who’s been around for decades, has met and will meet a thousand hurdles in trying to make a successful music career. In fact, if you’re a musician and you’re not experiencing nerve-wracking challenges very often, you’re probably not doing it right or you’re going too slow.

But, of course, this doesn’t mean that you just become passive and wait for challenges to punch you in the gut. You can be prepared of these possible setbacks and challenges so you won’t have a heart attack when they actually show up.

Here are the most common challenges musicians face:

No Response to the Demo
Even the most famous, most talented bands get rejected or ignored. Rejection is the norm or else everyone would be rock stars. If you don’t get a response in one month, which is usually the case because these labels receive tons of demos each day, don’t start thinking about switching careers. It’s not because you suck, it could be because they haven’t listened to it yet or it’s not a good match for their label. I mean, if you’re a punk band and you send your demo to a label that does ballads, then don’t cry if you won’t get a response.

Read these basic demo-sending facts that could improve your chances.

The Big Review Wasn’t Published
Being told that the review of your album or band that was supposed to appear in a newspaper/magazine or on a certain website has been dropped is frustrating. How should you handle it?

First, understand that this, too, happens often, and it isn’t personal. Sometimes writers say that a review will appear just to appease you, but often they are just as surprised as you when a review is dropped by an editor.

Getting bumped for bigger stories is part of the game, but you can make things better by following up. Put a call into your contact at the publication to find out what happened. See if you can get them to run it in the next issue instead. If you made a big deal about the review beforehand on your website or if your distributor has been using news of the review to promote your album, touch base with everyone to let them know what happened and when the review will resurface.

No One Comes to the Show
Few things are as disheartening as playing to an empty room on the night of a gig. There may be finger pointing, but the bottom line is you can’t force people to come to your show.

Do your best to turn a negative into a positive. Be gracious to everyone involved with the show so you will be welcomed back to the venue in the future. There’s no guarantee that the crowds will pound down the door next time, but you can take steps to build buzz for that next show.

Finding reliable band members
Being a bandleader means also managing “the wild and crazy personalities, lives, and schedules of your musicians – and still having your band by the end of the day,” Singh continues. “[As a DIY musician, I’m] trying to turn this into a financially supportive project for everybody. To get there, everyone has to invest and make sacrifices, but they have additional priorities.”

The Tough Competition
“The act of remaining competitive with peers in the industry who generally have much larger support teams around them can be a challenge,” says Carpenter. “But I also think it can be very beneficial to an artist if he or she is up to the task. By managing all these different facets of your career on your own, you become more in tune with the industry as a whole – and that can be an extremely positive thing.”

In order to stand out, you have to be different. Read up these branding tips for musicians.

Problems with the Royalty Collection Company
As an artist, of course, you want to get paid for your work, but royalty collection companies are causing friction with fans—and this can reflect badly on you, the artist. From trying to collect additional royalties on music you’ve already been compensated for (such as with ringtones) to demanding music fans pay for a public performance license when listening to the radio, the actions of these companies seem to have more to do with making up for their own financial problems than making sure you get your due.

The problem—aside from the fact that you pay a fee for a royalty collection company’s service—is that your fans don’t realize that how little control you have over what your royalty collection company does in your name. To them, you’re the greedy one, and that’s not an impression you want to foster with your fans.

If you feel like giving up now, DON’T!!! Just don’t. Because these challenges are just the way for the industry to weed out the ones who are not as persistent and patient. As cliche as it may be, but it’s true that it’s absolutely hard but also totally worth it.

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