music success

Don’t stand in the way of your own music success

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Stepping outside of your comfort zone, by definition, makes you uncomfortable. But you might need to try something new to find success in your music career.

Because I manage Disc Makers and have been part of the independent music landscape for many years now, whenever I’m talking to an artist, I usually get a question from them related to the music business and their own music career. You know, something like, “Tony, what should I do to accomplish this or that goal?”

You name the goal: Get more fans, get more streams, get more YouTube views, sell more tickets, sell more CDs, make more money. If it’s on your mind, I bet I’ve been asked the question, including plenty of questions I have no clue how to answer.

But, it seems like, more often than not, when I offer my advice to an artist, I get an answer like, “Well, I don’t know. People won’t like that.” Or “I don’t really want to do that.” Or some other reason why it won’t work.

Does this sound familiar?

For example, I’ve heard artists say:

I can’t ask people to buy my merch when I’m on stage. That’s way too commercial.

I can’t offer someone a CD when I run into them on the street, they might not want it.

I can’t ask someone I just met at a conference for a referral to someone they know and I don’t, they might think I’m too pushy.

I can’t say this or that particular thing on social media, I might insult someone.

I can’t sell vinyl, my fans won’t want to pay for it.

I can’t make a YouTube video, I’m not creative enough.

I can’t busk on Main Street, the cops might chase me away.

I can’t put out a tip jar.

I can’t wear my own merch.

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I won’t, it won’t work.

But how do you know that you actually can’t do these things and that they won’t work? I mean you may be embarrassed to try them, but usually, unless you’ve tried something, the reason you don’t want to do things that could actually move your music career forward is mostly because of your own self-limiting beliefs.

Are your self-limiting beliefs holding you back?

We all have a comfort zone, and most of us hate to step outside it. By definition, stepping outside your comfort zone makes you uncomfortable, so we avoid doing it and we don’t try things that could help us progress in our career and in our lives. And so, our own self-limiting beliefs limit our potential.

If you want to make faster progress in any facet of your life, you’ve got to start being more comfortable being uncomfortable. Try things that you have no idea whether they’ll work or not. Who knows? They may. That’s what we do every day at Disc Makers in our marketing department. It’s called testing.

Rather than assume we know what will and won’t work when we do our marketing, we try a bunch of things. Different artwork, different headlines, different subject lines in an email, even different price offers. And then we measure what works best. But, we’re not done yet.

After we’ve run a test, we start all over again and we test new things to see if we can out-perform the thing that performed best on the previous round of testing. Testing, trying things, and measuring is how you optimize your results. You do more of what works best. And then you test and measure again. You can do this with your own life and with your own music career.

You can’t succeed if you won’t fail

We call it testing and marketing, but for you it’s just trying new things. It’s not just about doing this with marketing, right? Try new things, see if they’ll work. If something didn’t work, try it in a new way, or try it differently, or try something else.

Can’t get a response from that booking agent? Try a new subject line to the email you sent them. That didn’t work? Leave a different kind of voicemail message. That didn’t work? Send him your demo again with a box of chocolates. You don’t know. Something new might just work.

But first, you have to have the courage to set aside your self-limiting beliefs and take that step outside your comfort zone. You can do it.

Watch more great videos on the Disc Makers YouTube channel.


Tony van Veen is the CEO of DIY Media Group, the parent company of Disc Makers and BookBaby. As a college student, he played in indie bands, created his own LPs, cassettes, and t-shirts, and sold them at shows. Today, he collects CDs, vinyl LPs, and concert t-shirts to support the artists he loves.

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