Maintaining A Positive Mindset
As you probably know, being in music isn’t easy. It can be a stressful venture. The hard work and challenge can make it even more rewarding, but sometimes it can take its toll. By getting bogged down in your lack of present success and your data, you can become depressed and struggle to maintain a positive mindset.
Only a small fraction of musicians reap the rewards the dream of. International success isn’t available to every musician who enters the industry, but that doesn’t mean creating a sustainable music career is not viable.
Unfortunately, pursuing your dreams in the music industry is coupled with high levels of rejection and struggle. You will constantly hear “no” (if you even hear anything at all) and feel defeated after putting lots of work in. It can be really difficult to not focus on the rejections or the lack of movement in your data. In many ways, focusing on the numbers gives you the platform you need to develop. But in other ways, it creates constant anxiety and you can spend your time worrying about things you can’t change. Often we find ourselves thinking:
- “Why didn’t this post get as many likes?”
- “How come people aren’t streaming my song?”
- “Am I good enough to do this?”
However, evidence shows that even those artists at the very top have had similar challenges and rejection throughout their careers. Managing the negative experience and maintaining a positive mindset is the essential difference for progressing forward.
The Challenge Of Being In Music
While creating music can be an incredibly fulfilling activity, the life of a musician is full of highs and lows. For a musician, their work is a deeply personal expression. That expression creates a strong emotional investment in the work they produce. Because of this investment, the highs and lows of our music are amplified. We are ultra-sensitive and extremely determined. Whilst these are fantastic qualities that carry us to our goals, it can have a downside. We become incredibly self-critical and focus on over-analyzing our success, or lack of, and this diminishes our self-confidence and belittles the progress we have made.
It can be daunting creating a career in this highly competitive industry. In a study called “Can music make you sick?”, professional musicians shared insights into their own mental health experiences whilst working in the industry:
- 71.1% had experienced anxiety based panic attacks;
- 68.5% has experienced depression.
The survey found that musicians could be up to three times more likely to experience depression compared to the wider public.
Key Challenges Within The Industry
1. The Competitiveness of the industry
The music industry is incredibly competitive. There are more than 70 million songs on Spotify alone. The numbers are daunting and a lot of musicians start talking themselves out of being successful early on in their career.
One key issue that we see a lot of is comparison. Artists often compare themselves to other bigger stars and then struggle when they don’t instantly scale to the same level. The reality is, overnight success is simply not a thing. When you start by comparing yourself to an international superstar, you will stare at a mountain that is too high to climb.
You need to ditch phrases like “I will never be as big as…” or “I want to be as big as…”. These phrases are rooted in comparing yourself to another artist. Remember, you don’t know these artists. You don’t understand their journey, how long they waited for success, the effort they put in, the resources and time they invested or how they felt throughout their experiences. If you can’t compare these aspects, you shouldn’t compare the numbers like Instagram followers, Spotify Streams and net worth.
2. The nature of the work
There is a lot of varied work in being a musician. A lot of things you wouldn’t expect when you first start making the music. Yes, you are a musician. But you are also a business manager, events planner, marketeer, accountant, administrator and so much more. You have social media accounts to run, gigs to play, tracks to promote, music to create, networks to build… the list goes on.
When starting out in music, many artists don’t realise the bigger picture. The job is extremely time consuming, and you can easily get carried away on small jobs. It can involve a lot of travel, long hours and time away from your loved ones. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed and burnout if you aren’t careful.
3. Self-investment In Our Work
Musicians pour their heart and soul into their work. It is a very emotional process, and they want it to resonate with their audiences. There is a lot of pressure to create content that does this and if it doesn’t, it can be extremely disappointing. Musicians have a message they want to share, and ultimately, that they want publicly acknowledged and hailed. But it is not possible to become an overnight sensation and even with the knowledge, the reality of it can be extremely frustrating for musicians. It makes you feel inadequate and over time, this develops into depression. You need to manage your mindset and focus on the achievements you do make.
4. Financial Pressures
In music the earning potential is sky-high, but financial instability is a real problem. It will take a lot of work and a lot of time to create a stable stream of income that you can live on and rely on. This can produce anxiety about financial commitments and often require musicians to work full time outside of their music. You need to be careful that you don’t overestimate your financial success in the early stages of your career. Spend some time setting up multiple streams of income that continuously feed into your earnings.
Why You Need A Positive Mindset
A positive mindset is key to achieving in the music industry and to being happy with the outcomes in your life as a whole. While it might seem surprising, many artists who are currently experiencing international success have faced the same challenges as you are facing right now. They continued developing, took each rejection and knockback and dusted themselves off.
If you truly love the work you do and you believe that is what you should do, then you need to persevere through all the challenges that come your way. Sometimes the next big opportunity is just on the other side of the struggle you are in. Maintaining your positivity, staying on course and moving forward are the only way to reach the other side. Remember that every failure was just one way you would have reached your goals and that there are thousands more out there.
Keeping a positive mindset is always the most effective way of meeting the challenges of a music career. Remember to reassert to yourself that you do have what it takes. Take each rejection as a sign, not a defeat and keep pushing through. The more you put into your life, the more you will get out of it.
Start by keeping a balanced and healthy lifestyle. While it might be challenging, getting the right amount of sleep, eating well and exercising all stimulate better mental health and can enable you to think clearly and process challenges in a better way.
Accept your journey. Everything is a process and building a permanent success will take time and investment. Recognise the small growths and progressions you make and see in your data. Use your analytics to guide and develop your strategy, instead of benchmarking failures.
Don’t compare yourself or your success to that of other musicians. Focus on becoming the musician you want to be and being you. Trying to follow someone else will only boost your negative thinking. Being true to who you are enables you to find success on your own terms and be proud of your journey.
Change the way you view the world around you. Choose what matters. You can choose what is important to you and what opportunities you take to advance your career.
Make sure to do something, every single day, which is just for you. Something that is not in service of the fans and isn’t about boosting your numbers. It could be anything you enjoy, it does not need to be music based.
It’s also really important that you talk about any challenges and difficulties, even if it seems difficult to do. Talk to a supportive friend, family or professional counsellor who you feel comfortable discussing with.
If you feel that you are starting to struggle, you should reach out for help. There are some amazing resources out there who can give you support to help you through a tough patch.
- Music Minds Matter
A support line offering a 24/7 service for the whole UK music community.
Get in touch by phone: 0808 802 8008
- BAPAM (British Association for Performing Arts Medicine)
A service which connects performers with specialist support.
Get in touch by phone: 020 7404 8444. Email: email@example.com. Alternatively, you can fill out the appointment form on the website, or pop in to one of their clinic locations.
Open 24/7, all year round, the Samaritans are open to listen to anyone experiencing upset or struggling with difficult thoughts.
Freephone: 116 123, Welsh Language Line: 0300 123 3011 (7pm-11pm, Mon-Sun), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Switchboard LGBT
A helpline for the LGBTQ+ community with support for all problems, provided by LGBTQ+ phone operators, open 10am-10pm, 365 days a year.
National number: 0300 330 0630, Email: email@example.com
- Black Minds Matter UK
A support service focused on making mental health topics and support more accessible for the Black community in the UK. Visit the website to send an enquiry.
A support service for university and college students. Check out the nightline website (https://www.nightline.ie/) to see if your college or university offers the service. All operators are compassionate, caring and student aged as well
We have all experienced challenges and witnessed the damage that can be done when musicians leave the negatives un-managed. These issues can hit anyone, from any background and any walk of life. It is important that we all create a safe space where those who are suffering can move forward in comfort and confidence. Never be afraid to ask for help. If you need it, there are resources available to give it.
Staying on track with positive thinking is of course, easier said than done. Start by taking little steps to improve your processes and the way you perceive the world around you. Build your resilience and accept knockbacks as a sign to look in another direction, instead of assuming that you aren’t talented enough to make it in the industry.
If you keep being you, making your craft and stay positive, good things can come your way!
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