Doubt. Burnout. Anxiety.
Just another day in the life of a struggling musician, right?
Believe it or not, just about anyone trying to make it in the music business thinks about throwing in the towel at some point. Even the most talented artists have every right to second-guess themselves; meanwhile, those who’ve never made a dime from their art are naturally discouraged when nothing seems to come to together.
However, creative roadblocks are not a reason to give up musicianship altogether. In fact, you should take the following five points into account if you’re feeling unsure about the direction of your music career or think it might be time to give it up.
Realize That You’re Just in a Rut
First and foremost, realize that these feelings are ultimately temporary. Everyone hits snags in their creative process or feels as if they’re struggling to put pen to paper.
Experiment with new songwriting techniques and listen to some new music either within or outside of your genre. Take a break for a few days and then come back to your songs with a fresh frame of mind. Whatever you do, knee-jerk reactions are not going to help.
For Artists, Age is Just a Number
So many artists feel because they didn’t “make it” by the time they were in their early twenties that they’re somehow doomed or otherwise failed. When you look at examples of musicians who got a late start such as 2 Chainz, Debbie Harry and Leonard Cohen, you realize that there’s no such thing as an expiration date on your music career. Instead of assuming that the clock is working against you, strive to make the most of the time you do have.
You Don’t Necessarily Need Rockstar Success
Let’s be real: not everyone can be a stadium musician. Oftentimes, mainstream success boils down to luck and a number’s game.
There’s nothing wrong with writing music solely for your own enjoyment or gigging on the weekends. In fact, sometimes having a career and being a musician represents the best of both worlds. With a steady job, you get the financial security that many musicians so desperately crave while also getting to do what you love in terms of art.
Don’t Take Criticism to Heart
No matter what type of music you’re writing, there are going to be haters, doubters and naysayers. Instead of focusing on criticism and negativity that tears you down, you should reflect more on the positive feedback your work receives. Learning to deal with artistic criticism is absolutely crucial and ultimately boils down to a major piece of advice: don’t take criticism personally.
Maybe You’d Work Better with a Team
If you’ve been struggling as a solo artist, perhaps it’s time to think about collaborating with others instead of trying to go it alone. The ability to bounce ideas off of someone else is always a plus. Furthermore, working as a band or group takes the pressure off of you specifically as you have more freedom to focus on your artistic strengths.
There’s no denying the inherent difficulties of trying to make it as a musician in the face of self-doubt. Even so, no artist should abandon their craft simply altogether. Keep these points in the back of your mind next time you’re feeling down about your music: sometimes a little bit of perspective can make all the difference.