One successful musician explains what it takes to ‘make it’ today

Everyone working in music believes they know a thing or two about what it takes for someone or some group to ‘make it’ in music today, including the people behind this blog. We believe – just like everyone else – that our advice will help you get new fans, engage with those already following, and build a career worthy of your talent.

You know what most of those people, including those working on this blog, have not done? Lead a successful career as a musician.

Brian Burkheiser is another story altogether. One-part of popular alternative rock group I Prevail, Burkheiser recently took to Facebook to shed some light on how he and his bandmates found success in this crazy industry on their own terms. We hung on every word and believe you will (should) too. Enjoy:

So a lot of people always ask me how I Prevail grew so quickly. Here’s my response.

If you want your band to grow and get big, you need to be involved in every aspect of your business and constantly be looking to improve your craft.

Songwriting, performing, social media, marketing, merch, finances, etc. If it’s your baby and you really have a vision, you need to be 100% involved in everything your band is doing. There are a lot of distractions in this music scene and it’s very easy to lose sight of what your initial dreams were when you started your project if you get to caught up in all the outside commotion.

A lot of people will sneak their way in as you grow and get bigger. They’ll tell you what you want to hear in the moment, but then ultimately try to get you to follow their vision instead of yours. Don’t be bullied, if you feel strongly about something, fight for it. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the industry is that if you don’t fight for your way, you’ll get walked all over. Industry people who are used to pushing artist around will do so if you don’t stop them. Your job is to speak up if you’re not in agreement with something.

At the end of the day, it’s your band. Sure, there are a lot of amazing people you will work with that will help grow your career. But it’s your job to separate the good guys from the bullshiters. Don’t let anyone gain too much control of your business if you don’t feel absolutely confident in them. All it takes is a couple bad moves to bring your band down in an instant.

If you want to continue to grow, never lose your work ethic and continue to grind. There will be a lot of days when you think, “is this worth it anymore?” Well, just know if you can get past those thoughts and keep fighting, you WILL succeed in this industry. Quite a bit I feel mentally and physically fried, especially when I’m out on a long tour. Touring can be a grind, especially when your trying to run a buisness at the same time. That’s where your drive will really get put to the test. How much time are you willing to dedicate to your band?

I’m not saying you can’t have fun and enjoy yourself a lot while on the road, it’s just about finding the right balance. If you are too caught up in the party lifestyle you’ll forget what got you here, but at the same time if you never give yourself a break from the business side and being a perfectionist, you’ll drive yourself mad. It will take some time, but eventually you’ll find the right balance for you.

Now the most important thing about this whole post. Your fans. Always treat your fans right. They made you. They’re giving you a chance to live your dream. Do right by them, and they will always do right by you. I’ve had so many incredible interactions with so many people the past few years and it’s absolutely what keeps me going. I get emotional thinking about how many stories I’ve been told, and how happy it makes me that someone can relate with the same stories that I’ve relayed through my music. Even on your darkest days, just know that your fans will always be by your side. Always be thankful for that.

So yeah, I know that was a novel. I just wanted to get out some advice I feel like I would have loved to have been given when starting my band.

I Prevail can be found on Vans Warped Tour all summer long. You can get a taste for their music 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.