What’s Holding You Back From Making Bigger Moves As A Musician?

Barriers To Entry In The Music Industry

Recently I wrote a post looking at why musician fail.

In this post I looked at 7 controllable things which stop musicians getting anywhere in terms of fanbase and income.

Today though, I want to look at something slightly different. There are a number of musicians out there who are either earning a profit from music or have got a decent sized fan base. That said, they could increase those numbers a lot more, but for some reason that never seems to happen.

Usually, this is because something is holding them back. They never truly hit their full potential, and they leave both money and wider exposure on the table.

The reason I'll be looking at these things is so you know what to avoid when you get to this stage yourself (If you're not already there). The below five points are things which can hold you back from doing bigger and better things in your music career, so avoid them at all costs.

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But first, if it's your aim to do music professionally, you'll want to check out our free ebook while it's still available:

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The Fear Of Rejection

As humans, we naturally hate rejection.

We don't like expecting and wanting one thing, only to be told it's not going to work out like we had hoped.

This is true in terms of your love life, career progression, and generally any other area in which there's a chance of not getting your way.

While this fear is natural, it can seriously hinder you as a musician.

You see, throughout your music career you're going to meet a lot of different people.

Some of these people will have the power to greatly benefit you in some ways, but not before you put yourself out there and take a chance.

This may be in the form of submitting a demo to perform at an event, submitting your showreel to potentially appear on a popular Youtube channel and the like.

If you're scared of getting rejected, you're not going to take opportunities.

If you don't take opportunities, you're not going to do everything you can to forward your music career.

Luckily, it's possible to get over your fear of rejection.

There are a lot of online guides which show you how to do that, so do a Google search.

If you find yourself knowing you should get in contact with someone who could potentially help you music career but don't pick up the phone, begin tackling this fear of rejection right away.

Being Too Shy

Shyness is another feeling which can hinder your music career.

As I mentioned above, during your music career, you're going to meet a lot of people.

Fans, other musicians, business people and the like. If you're too shy to effectively communicate with these people, you're going to have problems.

The biggest type of shyness I've seen in the music industry is being too shy or nervous to get up on stage.

This is know as performance nerves, or gig nerves.

When you have performance nerves, you find it difficult to get in front of a audience, usually regardless of size.

An overwhelming fear comes up; you start feeling sick, and you may even freeze when you get in front of the crowd. This is something many musicians initially face when it comes to live gigging.

I say initially, because many musician naturally get over this as they do more shows.

That said, some don't.

The reality though, is if you want to take your music to a higher level and start earning more from your music career, you'll probably need to do some type of gigging.

So what should be done about the performance nerves? Well, you'll have to learn to get over them. Or at least suppress them.

You only other choice is to not do gigs, but that's the path you should avoid taking if you want to increase your chances of success.

This is one of the things which will hold you back, both in terms of gigs and any other future things you're too shy to do.

After all if you've already given in to not doing one thing you know could be potentially profitable (Gigging), it'll be a lot easier to do the same in future.

Here's a good guide on tackling performance nerves.

It gives some top tips for dealing with it, so check it out if you're a suffer.

If your area of shyness is in another area, then work on building your confidence up in terms of that too.

A Lack Of Motivation To Put The Work In

Lazy MusicianFor some music makers, a lack of motivation is a big problem.

For example, they may make really good music and want to get far with it, but they simply aren't motivated to promote that music properly. The may know they need to, but it's simply easier not to do it.

What I see a lot is people start out on a promotion campaign, only to stop a couple of days later when not much is happening or they find something ‘more important' to do. The reality is though, if you want your music to get where it really should be, you have to put the work in! And you need to consistently work at a task for a set period of time before you can determine if it's effective for you or not. Usually a number of weeks rather then a couple of days (Times will vary depending on the task and what you want to achieve).

You may not always want to do something which could potentially move your music career forward, but that's no excuse not to do it. If you choose the easier option despite the harder option potentially giving you significantly greater results, then you've shown you don't really want a career in music enough.

Don't let a lack of motivation hinder your music career. If it's something you really don't want to do, pay someone else to do it instead. But if doing something could potentially increase the income from your music career or fan base, find a way to get it done, regardless of if it's your favorite task or not. Just remember the bigger picture…

Fear Of Trying Something New (Getting Too Comfortable)

Another big barrier for many musicians is the fear of trying something new. As with life in general, it sometimes becomes too easy to be comfortable with where you currently are. You may be earning enough money to live off, and your life is at a place you can handle it. At this stage, without a active desire to continue moving things forward, things can start to plateau.

Let's say for example you've got a set music promotion plan, and it's doing reasonably well for you. You're getting a few mailing list subscribers a day, and you're making a part time living with your music career. You also have a part time day job, meaning you're earning a lower level full time income when you add it all together. You're comfortable where you are.

Now a opportunity comes up which isn't something you've done before, and you're not sure if you can do it. That said it's got the potential to get you a decent amount of new fans, IF you're willing to put the time and effort in.

While you may have reached for this opportunity before when you were more hungry for making things work, if you can technically survive and keep trudging along without it, it's a lot easier to not try new things. The hunger you had for doing everything you can to get your name out there can go away, and it's easy to get stuck in a leveled routine.

If you want to maker the bigger moves as a musician, you can't be afraid to try new things and keep pushing forward. Routine can be good for creating a consistent income, but don't discount new opportunities with potential which come up.

A Lack Of Knowledge

The type of tasks you do as a beginner musician varies greatly from the kind of tasks you do as a full time musician. As you start getting more money to invest and start working with different types of companies, the things that are most effective will change. If you're doing well initially but don't know how to change with the times, there's a chance you won't maximize your potential. After all, still working on small things while you have the opportunity to do more will only take you so far.

It's because of this that you need to keep up with your music business education, and do what's most effective for you based on what stage you're at. Are you looking to build up that initial fan base? Are you looking for ways to better interact with your existing fan base? Are you looking for collaboration opportunities with larger companies? Whatever the case is, learn how to do it properly, and be sure to move with the times.

Don't think the same tasks will be effective at every stage of your career; as your resources and opportunities grow, take full advantage of them!


So there you have it, 5 things that hold musicians back from making bigger moves. While not all of them may apply to you now, they could do in future, unless you make a active effort to not be affected by them.

So, what are other things you've seen which can hold musician back? Let me know in the comments section below. And please socially share this guide if you've found it useful. 🙂

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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