You’ve found your passion. You’re ready to embark upon a magical journey with your music.
But your family doesn’t support you. They don’t want you wasting your life on something you can’t make money at.
Or, maybe they want you to become a lawyer, doctor or attorney. They want you to make a “real” contribution to society.
Best case scenario, your family doesn’t support your passion or believe in your dream, but they don’t do anything to hinder or stop you.
Worst case scenario, they actively sabotage you, start arguments and fights or worse.
If your family doesn’t support your music, what can you do about it?
Accept The Responsibility
Maybe you grew up in a strict household. Or, maybe your family doubts the practicality of you becoming a professional musician.
They are not wrong to have their doubts. Becoming a highly paid (or even reasonably paid) musician will take time and effort, and generally there is no way to shortcut the process.
All too often, in situations like these, I see budding musicians not taking responsibility for their choice. If this does not describe you, that’s fine.
But you must see it from your family’s viewpoint too. They think you’re making an impractical, irresponsible decision.
The first step to overcoming their objections and fears is to be assured in your choice. You must take responsibility for it.
You must let your family know that you understand the risks and that you may never be a top 40 musician (odds are you won’t).
That doesn’t mean you can’t earn a good five- to six-figure income from music. In some cases, you can even earn more as an independent.
Dig up some examples of independent musicians who are doing this. You can find plenty who are making music from home and are earning a hefty sum from licensing and placement opportunities.
Likewise, there are those earning a good living from live performance, songwriting and more.
Paint a picture for what’s possible. Show your family what ordinary people like you are achieving.
Remember – we are all ordinary. No one has special circumstances that prevent them from doing what they want to do. It’s a matter of whether you choose to step through the thin veil of fear.
Demonstrate Your Work Ethic To Your Family
It’s possible you’ve been an underachiever to this point. You didn’t do particularly well in school, sports, art or other extracurricular activity.
Or, maybe you did especially well in school but decided to embrace your creative side instead of handing your life over to a soul-killing job.
Either way, your family can’t see the possibilities you see right now.
One thing you can do is demonstrate your work ethic. To do this, you will need to “live out loud” a little.
What I mean by that is some people who’ve chosen to become a musician hole themselves up in a room and never track or talk about what they’re doing to build their careers.
No wonder their family doesn’t believe in them!
I understand that you will need to be antisocial for a while, especially while you’re developing your skills as an instrumentalist and/or singer.
But you can’t leave your family in the dark and expect them to care or know what you’re up to – even if you’re keeping busy.
So, keep a progress log. You could record any number of things, including:
- How much time you’re spending in practice.
- How many songs you’re written.
- How many people you’ve reached out to (bloggers, podcasters, media people, A&R reps, etc.).
- How many social media sites you’ve created a profile on.
- And more.
You should let your family in on your progress at least weekly.
Yes, I know, these conversations are bound to be awkward and unrewarding at first. But it’s better than ignoring your family and not letting them in on what you’re up to. That will invite more criticism.
Don’t worry about trying to be tough-skinned. But be sure to listen to their concerns. Most people just want to be heard – they’re not necessarily looking for a solution!
Hire A Music Business Coach Or Mentor
Anyone who wants to perform at a high level long-term should hire a mentor or a coach.
I understand that this can be expensive. But it will show your family that you’re serious about what you’re looking to create. They can also rest easy knowing that you’ve got someone knowledgeable in your corner.
Understand that a coach or mentor isn’t necessarily someone who’s accomplished more than you have. It’s someone who can ask the right questions.
Think of a business consultant. They don’t necessarily know more about business than their clients do. One of their greatest strengths is that they are outside observers.
Outside observers can see things you can’t. They can help you see things from a new perspective.
This isn’t to say the best consultants aren’t well-studied and don’t have track records, because they often do. But they didn’t necessarily go to consultant school to get good at what they do.
They just need to be able to ask good questions – questions that aren’t already being asked by their clients.
Ambitious musicians should absolutely have someone in their corner offering valuable suggestions. After all, they may even be able to help you with your family situation, how ever dire it may appear.
Share Your Vision For What’s Possible In The Music Industry
A commonality I see among people who don’t have a supportive family is that they haven’t shared their vision for what’s possible.
Now, this doesn’t mean that your family will respond to your vision-casting efforts. It takes something to have the types of authentic conversations that lead to breakthrough.
But recognize that authenticity is your best tool for getting into your family’s good graces. There are so few authentic conversations happening out there.
So, what is it that you see possible for yourself? Further, what do you see as a possibility for your family?
“I want to be a musician, become famous and make lots of money” is neither authentic nor particularly moving.
You want to have the kind of conversation that leaves your family feeling inspired. Then, you can command all the respect and support you need.
“This whole time I’ve been pretending that I wanted to do well in school and get a good job. But the what’s been missing for me is any sense of passion. My life has felt bland. Music makes me come alive. I want to give it my best shot, and not have any regrets, knowing I may not succeed.”
Now, that’s authentic. I’m not saying you should use those exact words. You must tailor it to your situation. But even if people don’t agree with what you’re doing, they can’t help but feel a sense of connectedness if you relate to them in this manner.
Who can’t relate to a sense of boredom and a lack of purpose? We’ve all been there.
Assume your family has no idea what you’re up to or why you’re doing it. Share yourself fully with them.
My mentors once told me to fillet myself open. They weren’t talking to me, specifically, but rather their organization, of which I was a part.
I got what they meant. Filleting yourself open means leaving everything on the table. Your mentors can only help you to the extent that you share yourself with them.
If you share yourself fully with the people that care about you, they’ll be better able to help you.
Give Up The Need To Be Right
Author Mark Manson says one of the worst values you can have for yourself is the need to be right about everything.
As someone who used to have to be right about everything, I can’t agree more.
At first, when you give up the need to be right, you’ll probably experience some cognitive dissonance. The mind has trouble letting go.
All the assumptions and beliefs you had aren’t right. They just are. And, this will feel strange.
As you accept the fact that you aren’t right about everything, you may feel depressed for a while. This is normal. After all, you’re opting to take a chance on yourself and your music career.
But what lies on the other side is freedom. Suddenly, you’ll be open to new possibilities. You’ll see that everything doesn’t have to turn out a certain way. And, it probably won’t. And, further, it’s okay.
You’ll be more open to other people’s viewpoints, thoughts and ideas. You’ll see that there isn’t one right way of doing things.
Eventually, the need to be right will be replaced by curiosity. Remember what it was like to be a kid? That childlikeness is still available to you.
Being curious is a good value. You’ll discover and learn and grow so much more. You’ll transform if you allow yourself to.
Don’t be right about your music career. Instead, be curious. Ask questions. Utilize all the resources at your fingertips.
You’re aware that you can get in touch with literally anyone in the world, aren’t you? And, even some of the busiest people in the world are willing to answer at least one question, even if it’s just in a 280-character tweet.
You’re not right. I’m not right. Your heroes aren’t right either. We just are. Paradoxically, this is the truth.
Don’t try to be right with your family. Listen to their concerns. See the wisdom and truth in what they’re saying, even if it’s only a fraction of a percentage.
From that place, you can develop a sense of empathy and compassion for them. You’ll see that they are constrained in pursuing their own dreams. Let yourself feel that.
Your family may not be opposed to you. It could be that your actions are calling their lives into question.
Only Do This As A Last Resort: Move Away
Unfortunately, some people are stubborn and will never come around.
As sad as it is, your best course of action in a situation like that is to move away.
It doesn’t mean you think any less of your family. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them.
But people are all impressionable. If you’re around negative long enough, you’ll be dragged down like a crab in a bucket. You don’t want to let people do that to you.
Constantly being subjected to negativity is a form of abuse, and you don’t need to put up with it.
There are theories suggesting that people must have five good experiences to outweigh one bad one. If you’re fighting with your family every day, care to guess how many good experiences it will take to clear out the negative?
I understand that, for a lot of people, picking up and moving is hard.
But don’t let your head get in the way. There’s nothing to analyze. There’s nothing to fear.
You choose a destination, find a place to stay, pack up your stuff and leave. It’s as simple as that.
Your motivation? Your only motivation should be to live the best life you possibly can. Be the shining example others can look up to. Dare to be the one to take the plunge.
Other thoughts and considerations have a way of getting in the way of what you know you already know you should do. Follow your instincts because they’re probably right.
Maybe one day your family will come around. Maybe they won’t. Either way, putting some distance between them and you will be a healthy decision for all involved.
My Family Doesn’t Support My Music, What Can I Do About It? Conclusion
Just because your family thinks you shouldn’t pursue a career in music doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. But I know the negativity doesn’t help.
Follow the above steps, and you’re sure to find a worthwhile solution.
- Accept the responsibility. Your choices are yours and no one else’s. You shouldn’t let other people make up your mind for you. Take full responsibility for your choices and actions.
- Demonstrate your worth ethic. Go to work on yourself and offer your family members progress reports periodically.
- Hire a mentor or a coach. Find someone who can help you overcome mental blocks and obstacles.
- Share your vision for what’s possible. Paint a picture of a bright future for your family.
- Give up the need to be right. Don’t be close-minded. Be open to the possibilities.
- As a last resort, move away. If necessary, put some physical distance between yourself and your family and pursue your passion in peace.
Do this and you should see the path illuminated before you.