I was reading this piece the other day over at Intern Like A Rockstar. While it touches on a few different things, the main point of the article is that things don't always go as we plan. Some people have it in mind that they'll be the manager of a big company by the age of 25, but rarely does it work out like that. Others think they'll find the perfect partner and have a family by the age of 26, but that may not happen until well into the future. It does happen for some, but not everyone.
The point is, while these thing can still happen if you try hard enough to make them work, they don't always happen to plan. You may get what you want later then when you originally wanted it, or the outcome may be slightly different. But work hard enough, and you'll greatly increase your chances of getting where you want to be.
The same things applies to the music industry. From what I've seen, the majority of people get into making music with the aim of getting somewhere with their talent. For some, they aim to make good money from their music. Others want their talented to get recognized more than anything, with money being something they will focus on after that. In all honesty, there's nothing wrong with either of these aims.
Unfortunately though, unless you've been clued up by someone with experience in the music industry before you start, the expectations of how long it'll take to be a professional musician are often unrealistic. It's easy to think that you're going to become really talented really fast, people are going to recognize that talent right away when you share your first single online, and you'll have a manic fanbase who are ready to buy all your songs and attend all your shows. It's also easy to think that this will all happen in a year or so after you get started.
We see new acts jumping into the charts all the time, so why not us? We've never personally heard of them before, so they must be a overnight success. And the music channels haven't done anything to dispel this myth…
Here comes *act name* with their debut single…
If you dig a bit deeper though, this is often far from reality.
The truth is, you don't become a super talented musician over night. It takes a while to build your talent up to a level where you can make and release hit singles regularly. In fact, many of the musicians you see in the charts were making music for years before they had their ‘debut single'.
Furthermore, ‘debut single' doesn't mean it's the first song they've made. Chances are these acts have made many songs before. They may have released them by themselves as an independent musician, they may have tried to get them signed to record labels before, they may have put out a mixtape if they're part of the hip hop scene. They may have even tried to release something into the charts a few years back but didn't get anywhere.
My point is, chances are, your plan and timeline for becoming a professional musician isn't fully accurate. I'm not saying you won't get where you want to be, as with enough work in the right areas it is fully possible.
That said, if you think everything will happen in a year or even two, chances are your timeline is somewhat off.
Now don't get me wrong, for some musicians do turn professional that fast. That said, they are the exception to the rule. Most musicians have to put in a lot of legwork before they're earning a living from their talents. It takes time to get talented enough to make songs on par with the best musicians in your genre. And once you've done that, it takes even more time to start promoting your talents and building up a fanbase.
It takes a while to build a strong fanbase. Usually, it's a gradual process. You'll get a few influxes of people becoming your fans when you do bigger shows or are featured somewhere, but generally it's a process that compounds over time. Very rarely do independent musicians gain fans very fast, even if they are really talented. Again though, it can happen, but it's an exception to the rule.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to have realistic expectations of what it takes to do music professionally. One of the biggest reasons many musicians stop taking their music career seriously and start telling others “it's impossible to make it as a musician” is because they go in with unrealistic expectations. They think things are going to go one way, then when they don't they become disillusioned with they system.
This is one of the biggest things that will hold you back from driving things forward and making yourself do music professionally. My hope is that after reading this article, you'll focus more on doing the right things to push you forward, and that bit less on how long it'll take you to get where you want to be.
Because the truth is, it'll be different for everyone.
For some people it'll be two years. For others, it'll be more. And in all honesty, no one has any ideas how long it'll be for you personally. Just keep working hard on doing the right things, and you will see ongoing progression. I aim to show you the right kind of things you should be doing, so have a look around this site to get a good idea.