stalled music career

These mistakes might be why your music career has stalled

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Before you look to paid services or third parties to solve your problems, look inside and recognize that sometimes a lack of success is on you.

Don’t just tell me — sell me

The other day I received an email from an artist who was asking me to click on his link to stream his music. The first thing that came to my mind was, “Why should I click on your link? Is it going to put me in a good mood? Is it going to make me want to dance? Is it going to make me want to get into the mosh pit? Is it going to make me want to go 100 miles an hour down the Pacific Coast Highway blasting your music?”

You need to sell that emotional benefit get people interested and excited. Don’t just say “click on this link.” If you want to get a lot more clicks and you want to get a lot more out of your promotion, sell the benefits — what is in it for the customer?

Don’t always turn to others for solutions to your problems

Recently, a client came in telling me he was very unhappy that he wasn’t getting more people to his live shows. His concluded that he needed a talent agent so he could get better gigs.

Okay, that’s an interesting conclusion, but perhaps there’s another way to look at this. Maybe what he really needs is to improve his stage show so that it’s more exciting and interesting.

Another client came in telling me he was unhappy that his Instagram following wasn’t growing fast enough. His conclusion was that he needed a PR agent to help grow those numbers.

Okay, that’s an interesting conclusion, but perhaps what he needs is more interesting and engaging content to grow his numbers organically.

Another client came to me saying he was unhappy that he wasn’t getting enough Spotify streams and his conclusion was he should work with one of those Spotify promotion companies.

Okay, but perhaps what he really needs to be doing is improving his songwriting and honing his recording skills.

Address the root cause of the problem

As independent artists, you have to stop looking at the symptoms and trying to solve them with band-aids or quick “1-800” fixes. You need to look at the root cause of the problem, the actual disease, and try to solve that. Don’t tell me it’s too hard or that the problem could never be you or your songwriting, it’s always the outside external things that you can fix with some PR agent or booking agent.

If you want real growth and real change, look for the root cause of the problem to find a cure.

Find your story

I was preparing a client for a press interview the other day, and I asked him basic questions like, “What is your band name?” “How did you guys form?” “What is the meaning behind some of your songs?” They fed me one-word answers that were absolutely bland.

Then I was working with another client and I asked them the same questions. They told me they came from North Korea, where they were trying to work as a musician, but you could get arrested and beaten if you played anything other than government-sanctioned music — and, in fact, this artist did get arrested and beaten and jailed. But now they’re living in the US, pursuing their dream of being a pop artist with all the freedoms and liberties in the world.

Now that is an interesting story. One of the biggest mistakes musicians make is they don’t craft an interesting story.

Telling your story helps you connect with your audience

Telling your authentic story is one of the most important things you can do as an artist. It’s how you define yourself, it helps you develop your brand, and your brand is how you’re going to be presenting yourself to the world. You want it to be really juicy, and you want that story to be authentic and moving and have something for your fans to relate to and latch on to.

If they’re invested, they’re going to want you to succeed, they’re going to want to follow you and be a part of your world. It also helps you develop your live experience — and I call it an “experience” rather than a concert or a performance because what you’re doing is creating a whole world with your story and brand and your audience members are going to be entering that world the moment they enter the venue. You want your audience members engaged, wondering about the relationships between the band members, and the story behind the songs — that’s how you keep people connected.

A story helps bring a band’s marketing together into one cohesive narrative, and everybody has a story. If you dig down deep enough and look for it, you’ll find your important history and how you got to where you are today. Think about your lyrics and the cohesive thread that brings everything together and think about your values and what’s important to you and you’ll begin to craft a great story.

Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician (Second Edition), Business Basics For Musicians (Second Edition), and The Five Star Music Makeover (published by Hal Leonard Books). Get these books at any fine online store in physical or digital format. Learn more at

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