How to keep your passion for the music business alive

Music Business, Music Industry, Music Success, Business, Mindset

Everyone working in music started as a dreamer. Maintaining a career depends on keeping that dream alive no matter what comes your way.

For the past eleven years, we have poured our hearts and souls into Haulix. It is an ever-growing, constantly evolving creation that has connected a small group of music lovers from the Midwest with people from all over the world. We pride ourselves on being the best promotional distribution platform on the planet, a title we have earned through relentless hard work, but — that said —  I would be lying if I told you we didn’t LOVE some comfort.

Everyone says they like a challenge, but you know what we love? Comfort. The great struggle of life is to find comfort. Comfort in who we are, what we wear, how we look, and so on. We seek comfort in every part of our lives, even business, but comfort is not something that bodes well for those hoping to make a career in entertainment.

Those seeking a role in music learn from an early age that they must find a way to prove themselves to the industry at large. The business is accepting of people from all walks of life, but it can also be a cool kids club, and getting that first bit of recognition from someone on the “inside” can mean everything to a young upstart. We’ve been there. Everyone has been there.

The problem is, once you’ve gotten to know your peers and you’ve found work that feels more or less secure things can become stagnant. You remember the kid who wanted nothing more than to be a part of the music business and — having accomplished that — you’ve grown comfortable with your place in life.

We’ve done similar things following significant developments here at Haulix. We feel pleased with ourselves or our accomplishments and decide that it’s “good enough.” What we’ve learned over time is that nothing is ever good enough because the work is, at least in our minds, never complete. A musician never finishes songs, primarily after writing one that takes off. Musicians write because that is what they do, and like musicians so should you continue chasing your passion.

There are no peaks or endpoints or goals in this business. There are only the plateaus created by your own lack of creativity and self-propulsion. There will always be another problem to solve and another thing to invent. There will always be another story to tell, another album to review, and another press release to be written. If it matters to you, then it continues to matter, but if you lose sight of why you started down this path, you will lose yourself. The only way to keep growing and continue developing is through a constant set of personal challenges. The pursuit of a craft has no destination because the journey is all you ever need.

If you’re feeling burnt out, it may not be because you failed, but rather because the challenges you’ve set are not in line with your real passion. Maybe you’re chasing something that you never really wanted in the first place because it’s easier than admitting you have to return to the beginning to go after what you desire. Maybe it’s none of those things and something personal to you and you alone. The point is, you cannot allow yourself to lose sight of that fire you’ve known from the very beginning. The light that first made you do whatever you did to get in the door. You challenged yourself to get here, and you must challenge yourself to continue. No one can do it for you.

And to be clear, that lesson is one you will need to learn again and again. We always struggle with our place in the industry, and we are still searching for another way to reinvent ourselves to match the changing needs of the music business. We know a vacation would be nice, and we may even take an entire Saturday to ourselves, but in the back of our minds, there is always more work that needs to be done. That constant motion of the industry is unstoppable, and the only choice we as professionals have is to learn how to ride the waves as they come. Sometimes you’re on top, sometimes you’re pulled under the current, but you can never lose sight of what got you here in the first place.

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.