‘I’m not ready yet’ Said no musician ever. OK, thats a bit of a sweeping statement but it’s not often a musician will think their playing isn’t up to the job. Musicians usually feel they are ready for the gig, ready for the tour, ready to make an album, ready to take over the world. Bands who have been going for longer than a year or 2 want to know why they aren’t signed yet and wannabe session musicians want to know how to get on those big level stadium tours because the stuff their doing isn’t taxing or rewarding enough.
*N.B. I’m talking about musicians and not songwriters who often have the opposite problem of not wanting to put stuff out until its perfect.
While aspiring to greatness is commendable and working towards your career goal is crucial, all too many times I hear musicians question why they aren’t where they feel they should be . Belief in yourself and your band is important but there needs to be a touch of reality thrown into the mix so you know what to change or improve in order to get to that destination.
You might have heard of the UFC fighter Connor McGregor. The featherweight and lightweight champion was born in Dublin, Ireland and has worked his way up through the ranks not only building himself as a superstar but also introducing the entire sport to a new audience. McGregor not only thinks he is the best ever in his weight division but also feels that pound for pound he is the greatest fighter in the sport. Meaning regardless of his size he is technically the best… period.
Now regardless of whether he is liked or hated for his trash talking, the one thing you can never accuse him of is not turning up. He would never under train, under prepare, or have a bad day at the office. As he puts it in his own words ‘At least I can back it up’, and his record shows that he has consistently done this for years. He knows when he steps into that octagon he is leaving it all in the cage and there are no excuses!
I have auditioned thousands or musicians across many instruments and it still baffles me today how many are under prepared with their tracks, equipment or preparation, and by preparation I mean anything from physical appearance, time keeping or even understanding of the gig they are auditioning for. I have been in countless studio sessions and heard musicians tell me why they haven’t had time to look at the tracks as much as they would have liked, singers who have ANOTHER cold, or gear which is ‘temperamental’.
‘Turning up’ doesn’t mean physically showing up to whatever you are doing, it means turning up ready to show everyone why you deserve the recognition and success you think that you do. It means competing on a national and international level, it means blowing the competition out of the water and it means doing everything you can leading up to that moment, continually learning, practicing, and gaining experience so you are 100% ready when each opportunity arises.
You don’t have to win every time but you do need to prepare for every win and analyse everything when you don’t. Music is subjective however as musicians we need to live by the adage, “It’s not about having a reason to be signed… it’s about having no reason why you wouldn’t get signed”. I’ve used the word ‘signed’ here however the same goes for being a session musician, teacher, writer, published artist, etc etc. Your job is to prepare and be better than anyone else and then eliminate any reasons why you might not be getting the recognition you deserve.
A couple of phrases I find myself using to musicians regularly
‘To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail’
‘Genius is in the attention to detail’
It’s not about having one reason to succeed it’s about having no reason why you wouldn’t”