The Musicians Dozen: 13 Lessons We Learned The Hard Way

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Life in the music industry is a unique experience for every individual and/or group who choose to make that path their own. No two careers are alike, though they may have many similarities, and it’s because of the long-heralded embrace of individualism that we believe so many feel at home within the entertainment business, regardless of how cutthroat the competition for lasting careers may be. You may not feel like your experiences are all that similar to others who have come before you, but I can promise you there is always something to be learned from the experiences of others.

POYNTE are a modern rock band based in Atlanta, GA. Their sound has been likened to RED and Breaking Benjamin, which truth be told isn’t far from accurate. The have received high praise both for their studio cuts, as well as their stellar live show, but the band hasn’t let any of the acclaim go to their heads. The recently released a new album, Discreet Enemy, and have distribution through THC:Music.

Why am I telling you this? In a world filled with artists trying to find a way to cut through the constant static of self-promotion from musicians around the world POYNTE have found a path entirely their own. They exist in a realm of rock littered with mediocrity and repetition, yet have not succumb to such temptation. They’re original, hardworking artists with a vision and a dream. They have learned a lot in their time together, and below they’ve offered thirteen lessons to help others find their own paths to success in music.

13. Good enough is for losers. This lesson was one of the hardest to swallow. We all work hard creating, refining and defining our music, but understanding that good enough is detrimental to you and your success is the key to furthering you and your band.

12. Being in a band is no different than investing in the stock market. Expect losses. Expect gains. Earn windfalls. Find sustainable growth and keep it as your bread and butter, but realize that without risk, there can be no reward.

11. A band is a marriage. You will fight. You will party. You will love. You will hate. You will bail someone out of trouble. You will get revenge, but remember, you will all reap the same rewards. The sooner you realize that you’re all in this together, the better.

10. Touring isn’t glamorous, especially if you aren’t making millions. Which I’m pretty certain is your band and mine, if you’re reading this. Is it fun? Absolutely, but it’s also emotionally and physically draining. Being away from your family, showering in truck stops, eating whatever you can find, changing flat tires in the rain, being screwed over by a promoter, having merch stolen, having gear stolen, leaving a guitar at a venue…all these things suck. But, when you see someone singing your lyric or playing air guitar along with you, all that goes out the window.

9. Music is a small community and word travels quickly. There’s no room for an attitude. Your ego can and will cause you and your band grief. Sometimes completely unintentionally. Simply remember, you can’t go wrong, going the right thing.

8. The days of being a “rock star” are long gone. Your fans are your employer. Piss them off and there’s no potential for advancement. You can not or will not please everyone, but if you are friendly, approachable and accommodating…the sky truly is the limit. As strange as this may sound, take the time to listen and you’ll be heard.

7. A wife, a girlfriend, a husband, a boyfriend, a brother, a sister, a parent, a friend; someone close to you and the band will cause trouble. Are they doing out of love or selfishness? Is there reason for concern or are they trying to kill your dreams? If you believe in what and who you are, you will work it out. If not, it will kill your band.

6. Make sure every band member is as determined as you are. Ten hands are much more productive than two.

5. You will want to quit. It’s inevitable. Remember though, no matter your profession, this is true. Self doubt and life struggles exist for everyone. Learn to adapt and overcome.

4. Music is not a competition. It’s art. Don’t concern yourself with what others achieve. Concern yourself with what you want to achieve and be happy for others successes. Not only will it help save your sanity, it will open doors that you never imagined possible.

3. Be patient and stick to your path. It takes time to write, to record, to find an artist, to get press, to book shows, to acquire fans and honestly, anything worthwhile always does. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Look at all of the people that took shortcuts to “stardom” on American Idol, The Voice and the likes. How many of the millions who’ve auditioned have sustainable careers? Five? Ten, maybe?  

2. Fail to plan and you’re planning to fail. Have multi-tiered goals and try to always overachieve.  Sounds simple, but if you don’t know your destination…how will you ever know when you get there?

1. If you don’t believe in your music, why should anyone else? Write, perform and convey emotion and passion. People will take notice.

Bonus Lesson: Spell check is your friend. Nothing will lose your band a gig faster than a poorly written, misspelled email. Just don’t ask us how we know this one. Ha!

You can learn more about POYNTE by following the band on Twitter and Facebook. Stream a sampler featuring tracks from their new album, Discreet Enemy, below:

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.