3 Steps to Success in the Music Business

Today’s music industry professional is rarely responsible for just a single task. If the person in question is working publicity they more than likely have their hands in social media efforts as well. Likewise, if someone is working in artist management they may also help with booking, promotion, or any one of a dozen other tasks a band or artist must complete in order to grow their brand.

Most aspiring professionals people we meet in our journeys tell us they want to be more than one thing. Everyone wants to do something in music, and most are willing to do anything you need done as long as they can squeeze it in between whatever other projects or jobs they may have at that time.

While it’s true that a working knowledge of many different roles in music makes it a bit easier to find work, those who make a career out of their time in music eventually realize there are three things we all must do in order to succeed:

Decide what you want

This is easier said than done, but it must be done. Doing a little bit of everything can be fun and create opportunities you never imagined, but in order to find a position that lasts longer than a few days, weeks, months or years you will need some kind of specialty. This can be any role in music, but for the sake of simplicity and ease of growth it should be just one role. If you want to be a manager, drop everything else and focus on managing an artist until you’ve taken their career as far as you are able. If you want to be a writer, wake up every morning and start pitching stories. If you want to work in PR, find a band you believe in and help them become the next band we believe in.

Make a Plan

Anyone can make a plan for success, but not all plans are the same. Before Haulix was founded we settled on a simple goal, “to streamline secure promotional distribution.” You could say our plan was as easy as building a an original platform, but in truth there were hundreds of tiny, incremental steps we had to take — and still continue to take — in order to be the company we are today.

We cannot make your plan for you, but we can reference an old saying that holds true to this day that may help:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Your plan should not focus on taking leaps and bounds toward your goals, but steps. Every day you should be doing something, no matter how small, to work toward where and who you want to be.

Plans not only make reaching your goals easier, but they also help you stay on track. If you rely on your motivation on any given day to get work done you will inevitably give in to laziness and begin slacking off. It happens to all of us! This is why we make plans.

Go for it

A plan is only good if you put it into action. The two steps we outlined above mean nothing if you fail to act on this third step because it is, by far, the most important of the set. In order to achieve the level of success you want in this business you have to take it upon yourself to move mountains and create opportunities. No one is going to do the work for you, and even if they do — someone will eventually realize you don’t know what you’re doing. This industry depends on self-starters in order to function. It’s among the top things every employer is looking for, along with creativity, drive, leadership, and flexibility. If you can show the world you are willing to do the work required to be successful then success will slowly begin to come your way. If you continue to do well, more will follow.

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.