I want to talk about the 7 rules that I broke in my career and give you permission to break them too.
We hear about all these rules or things you must do to succeed in the music industry, and most of them, I do not believe are correct, or they are exaggerated. As DIY artists, we have to get scrappy that’s why I love the idea of breaking rules. For so long, I was stuck knowing I have to follow these ways of doing things. Once I started breaking rules or trying my own ways, that’s where I got much freedom and having clarity too as I started having success.
Rule #1. Make music your full time job.
If you don’t focus hard on your music, you are not going to succeed. That is not true. I wasn’t in a place in my life where I can do that. I still had a job, I was a mom and I pursued my music career. It’s great to still have a part-time job during that time because I still have something else to rely on. I always talk about making more income to be able to make more music. You don’t have to feel ashamed to have other jobs to fund your passion.
Rule #2. If you’re a female over 30, then stick to songwriting.
Age doesn’t matter but if you’re older, work in the background because your time has passed. That is not true. I think things have really changed in terms of what you can look like, what you can be like, what your background is. You don’t need to fit this cookie-cutter anymore. You can definitely pursue a career after 30, after 40, after 50! I started my own career after 30 and I certainly didn’t look like your typical artist signed up on a label.
Rule #3. Recording music is the first step.
I talk about this in my Musician’s Profit Path. Recording an album is not the first step. I started with building my fanbase. You want to build up your brand, your artist persona and your presence. You want to build this up before you record and release something professionally.
Rule #4. Always record professional albums.
It is important to record your albums professionally but you don’t need to start with that. I was recording stuff from home with my own home studio. I was bringing those albums to shows and making money from them. It allowed fans to connect with me and I didn’t wait for perfection. Creating my own albums allowed me to hone my skills as a recording artist, songwriter and home producer.
Rule #5. You have to have a band.
I did have a band and I thought I had to have a band if I wanted to go anywhere. That kept me stuck for super long. I wanted to go on tour but I couldn’t base all my bookings around them. They have day jobs so it wasn’t easy to bring them on tour and I also have to have money to pay them. I thought there is no way I can learn to perform by myself. The first time I performed, I did screw up but I practiced and practiced until I can perform by myself. You can also find a duo partner. There are so may options. Don’t think that people will not book you if you don’t have a band. I booked so many venues by myself. Don’t limit yourself.
Rule #6. Performing in traditional venues is the only option.
I looked at where everybody else was performing and I thought I had to be a certain thing because I was only looking at certain venues. Then I started to think what would make sense for me — my age, my time of life, and I started looking for very niche kind of venues. Then I started noticing venues where I was already going that was utilizing artists — like community events, non-profit organizations and mothers of preschoolers. Then I realized this is an international organization and I started getting known for that. People started calling me for events and I built entire tours around mothers of preschoolers. I even brought my daughter with me because they had free babysitting. I became the go-to person for women’s organizations all over the country. It didn’t have to be traditional venues. I also booked myself. You can think outside of the box.
Rule #7. Protect your image.
Most probably, labels will not be okay with me bringing my child on tour or performing in these kind of venues but I wanted to have a non-traditional career. While pursuing my career, there was even a time I had to bring my 1-year old kid on my hip and a diaper bag. I think it was important because my career always involved them and I wanted to show people that you didn’t really have to follow how people thought it was all supposed to be done and you can be yourself. Be real with your audience as much as possible and they appreciate that.
I felt the need to share what I think about those rules because I saw these going around a lot. Don’t try to fit yourself into some mold because I tried that for so long and it never worked out. What I needed was to create a career and mold it to myself, and in doing that I broke a lot of rules and it’s okay! I give you permission, BREAK THE RULES!