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Again and again I see talented people with ideas they want to share – books they want to write, talks they want to give, businesses they want to launch – holding back because they think they “don’t know enough” about their topic.
“After all,” they reason, “there are real experts on this out there – and I’m not one of them.” They’re thinking about the people with advanced degrees and decades of deep experience working in the field.
In fact, that’s just one type of expert — “the specialist.” There are three other kinds of experts that make world-changing contributions, without specialist training.
You are likely one of these four types of expert, when it comes to the work you most want to do. As you read, identify which type (or types) of expertise you could bring to the projects you are currently pursuing as well as those that you want to pursue:
1. The Survivor
You’ve been through something, learned a heck of a lot along the way, and now you are on fire to share what you’ve learned. Maybe, like best-selling author Kris Carr, you lived through cancer and want to write about your path to health. Maybe, like Jonathan Fields, you’ve started a few businesses and want to share insights about entrepreneurship.
“Survivors” often worry that their personal experience is not enough to earn them credibility or allow them to make a meaningful contribution, but consider these powerful strengths of this source of authority: You have an ability to move and connect with your audience that most formal experts on your topic don’t have. You can provide inspiration and role-modeling– not just information. You have insider insights that will help you create a more compelling offering for your audience.
But, be careful, here’s where you could get in your own way: it’s easy to over-generalize from your experience to that of others. If “survivor” is your source of expertise, tell your story as powerfully as you can, and pass on your lessons learned as just that – without making claims on having the truth or the solutions for everyone. People will listen up simply because you are honestly sharing what did and didn’t work for you.
2. The Cross Trainer
When an athlete cross-trains,they “train in a sport other than the one that they compete in, with a goal of improving overall performance.” In our context, the “cross trainer” is the physicist who takes a look at a problem in medicine, the family therapist who writes about fixing dysfunctional teams at work. Cross trainers have deep expertise in field “x,” and bring ways of thinking from field “x” to bear as they look at field “y.” Business leaders Whitney Johnson and Clay Christensen each apply theories on business development to personal development. Tom Ford applied his expertise in fashion design to cinematography when he created the stunning film, A Single Man.
Cross trainers make interdisciplinary connections and drive innovation. They see the blind spots of the conventional thinking in the field they’ve turned their attention to.
However, if you are a cross trainer, here’s where to watch out: you may miss seeing how insights from your field of expertise are not applicable to your new topic. For example, many MBAs have hindered nonprofits by assuming that all the planning tools and metrics used in a business should be applied to nonprofits to make them more efficient.
For cross-trainers, the charge is to be bold in asking provocative questions and making interdisciplinary leaps, but humble about the applicability of anything across fields. Focus on starting new conversations and prototyping cross-training-based solutions without assumptionsabout what will in fact apply across fields.
3. The Called
Then there are those people that dive into a project out of a sense of calling. They feel an inner, mysterious sense of “this work is mine to do.” Jessica Jackley felt outraged that conventional charity didn’t empower the poor to help themselves, and out of a persistent frustration with that status quo, and a sense of calling, began developing Kiva.org, now the world’s largest microfinance platform.
The called bring many gifts to their work. They have sustainable passion. They have vision and – perhaps most important – ardent dissatisfaction with the status quo where insiders may have become resigned.
The challenge for the called is to trust their sense of calling. That is particularly difficult when they can’t find a logical reason why they’re attracted to a project, or qualified for it. The called generally feel that they don’t have what they need – and they aren’t who they need to be – to complete their calling.
Their charge is to start anyway in whatever partial way they can. They also need to gather mentors to fill in knowledge gaps –those who support (and aren’t threatened by) an outsider bringing new ideas and vision.
4. The Specialist
In our culture, this type of authority is most validated and embraced. The specialist has formal training (degrees, certifications) or lots of work experience in the area of their project. They might also achieve their specialist knowledge by conducting extensive research on their topic.
Brene Brown, a professor of Social Work spent years conducting research on shame and vulnerability and now speaks and writes widely on these topics. Dr. Harriet Lerner honed her expertise with hundreds of clients in her private psychology practice before writing her best-selling books on our emotional lives.
The pluses of this kind of expertise are many: specialists have a sense of the standard industry knowledge on their topic. They have the benefit of industry networks. Because they’ve seen so many examples over the years, they can tell apart the trends and the outliers.
The downside? Specialists often get stuck in inside-the-box thinking. They can also get distracted with the politics of their field or in debates about minutiae. To avoid that, specialists must talk regularly with colleagues from related but different disciplines, and seek out rebels and dissidents at the margin of their fields, listening to their perspectives with an open mind.
Immeasurable contributions are lost because many of us think that #4 – formal training/work experience – is the only kind of legitimate authority. We usually don’t hold that belief when it applies to other people – we are thrilled to read that nonfiction book based on someone’s personal journey or to listen to the interesting TED talk by a cross trainer. But for ourselves? We think we don’t know enough.
To be sure, specialists are extremely important. We benefit enormously from living in an age when there is so much information available, when formal education is becoming more and more accessible, and when there are people with deep, specialized knowledge. All of that is invaluable – but it is not the only kind of value.
Identify which source – or sources – of expertise you bring to your current project. Leverage its strengths. Most of all, trust that it is enough – not because it enables you to know everything, but because it enables you to make the contribution you are uniquely qualified to make.
How about you?
How have you successfully framed your expertise?
Disclaimer: First of all, let me make this clear. I’m not trying to say that making it in the music industry is easy, or that everyone who reads this will become a chart success. The aim of this guide is to help you define what success means for you personally, and look at what you’re willing to do to reach your goals. I’ll also touch briefly on creating a business plan to achieving your goals and more.
Hopefully the information in this guide will give you a clearer path, and increase the likeliness that you’ll get where you want in the music industry. Again though, nothing is guaranteed, and it’ll essentially be down to your drive, your level of talent, your marketing and business knowledge, the amount if time and effort you put in and the like.
If you’re not willing to put the work in, don’t expect to succeed in the music industry! – Tweet This
Now, with the disclaimer out of the way, let’s look at the steps you can take to succeeding in the music industry. 🙂
Define What Success In The Music Industry Is To You
Before anything else, you need to decide what your personal definition of success is. The reason for this is simple; if your idea of success is becoming well known in your country for being a talented musicians, you’ll need different steps to achieving that than you would if your aim was to earn a full time living from music.
So what is your final end game? What do you want to achieve? If you’re not yet sure, here are some common outcomes which a lot of musicians aim for. I’ve also included a (extremely generally) look at what’s needed to reach these goals:
- Aim to play good music you and your friends will enjoy.
- Aim to become well known at a local level. (Requires a lot of work).
- Aim to become well known at a national scale. (Requires a lot of work and luck).
- Aim to become well known at a international scale. (Requires a lot of work and a lot of luck).
- Aim to earn a part time living from music. (Requires a lot of work).
- Aim to earn a full time living from music (Requires a lot of work).
- Aim to become wealthy from music (Requires a lot of work and a lot of luck).
Feel free to mix and match your goals as you need. For example, it may be your aim to be well known in your local area and earn a full time living from your music. This is an achievable goal if you know what you’re doing.
While it’s easy to assume that most people would want to become internationally well known and wealthy from their music, that’s not always the case. As someone who regularly talks to musicians all around the world, I’ve seen that different people want to achieve different things, and everyone has their reasons for their end goal. So no matter what your end goal is, be sure it’s clear in your mind and we can move forward.
Determine What You’re Willing To Do To Succeed In The Music Industry
This is where the whole ‘on your terms’ bit fits in.
So now you know what you want to achieve from your music career, the next steps is deciding what you’re willing to do to achieve these goals. No, I’m not talking about who you’ll sleep with to get to the top (I do not recommend this). Instead, you need to decide if you want to achieve your goals strictly through your personal brand as a musician, or if you’re willing to use your musical skill in other ways to pad out your income and get you better known.
Let’s say the goals in your music career are mainly driven by money. Making a part time living is something I feel most musicians with talent and good marketing knowledge can achieve. That said, only a % of those people will go on to make a full time comfortable living from their music alone. It is achievable, but it’s a lot harder than if you were to also use the talents you’ve acquired from the music industry for other forms of earning.
For example, if you were to start teaching up and coming musicians how to sing, rap or produce, you could earn more than you would from just playing gigs and selling songs alone. Teaching wouldn’t get in the way of you playing gigs; gigs are generally performed later at night, while your teaching lessons would likely be in the day. Furthermore, if you was to teach via a online video course for example, after you’ve created your product you wouldn’t have to actively be there to teach each new person that came along.
There are plenty of income streams you could tap in which are music related, but which don’t involve your personal brand as a musician. Other examples include songwriting for others, doing backing vocals for other musicians, doing skits for people in need of them (isn’t restricted to other musicians) and the like. Think about who you can help with the talents you have, and provide a service to them.
With regards to becoming well known in the music industry, do you want to achieve that strictly by making music, or are you willing to get known for other things which could in turn boost your profile and allow you to promote your music from there?
Sometimes, the most effective path is to create a larger brand which isn’t just focused on your music. How do you go about doing this? Well, think about what fans of your music genre are also into, and target one of these interests.
For example, if you make music in a genre where a lot of the listeners are also into skateboarding, could you capitalize on that in some way? If you can skateboard to a good level and compete in televised competitions, great, there’s another way for you to reach more people and showcase your music to a targeted audience. If not, could you start up a skateboarding related blog or podcast? Maybe covering the events that happen, reviewing the best skateboards, or interviewing well known boarders.
As you showcase your face and build up a relationship with your website / podcast visitors, be sure to leave links to your music on the site, in the podcast, in your videos and the like. Your music will fit perfectly into the feel of what you’re offering, and get new fans of your music along the way.
This is just an example, you can find things relevant to your genre no matter what kind of music you make. The formula is this:
- Find another popular interest shared by a lot of people in your genre.
- Build a platform (e.g. blog or podcast) which covers that side of thing. I suggest making a website first, then if you also want a podcast doing that after.
- Incorporate your face and music into that new platform of yours so people know you made the site and also the music on it.
- Cross promote your website / podcast and your music.
One of the reasons this works great is because you’re creating your own platform to showcase your music. If you set your blog or podcast up so that the brand name is related to the interest rather than you personally, you’ll get more people checking it out simply because it’s something they have an existing interest in (even if they’ve never heard of you before). Then once they’re paying attention, you can now introduce yourself as the creator, and at some point introduce them to your music. You can also use this platform to build credibility and build connections you couldn’t as an up and coming musician.
As you can see in both examples, by doing more than promoting yourself as just a musician, you can open up other opportunities to both earning more and getting more exposure. This isn’t a path that everyone will want to take, but it is a option, so it’s worth thinking about.
Creating A Business Plan For Success
Next up, you’ll need to create a plan of action. After all, it’s one thing knowing what you want to achieve, and it’s another thing getting there.
As I mentioned earlier, it’d be impossible for me to map out every stage of what you need to do in this one article. That said, here are some pointers which will hopefully get you moving in the right direction.
First of all, you need to work out what steps are needed to get where you want to be. You’ll find help discovering what kind of steps you’ll need and help with achieving these steps both via the hundreds (if not thousands) of guides on Music Think Tank, as well as the hundreds of guides I’ve written on Music Industry How To and other sites. So have a look around, a see what you need to do to get started on your chosen path.
Next up, you’ll need to set S.M.A.R.T goals for each of these steps. S.M.A.R.T will allow you to come up with a realistic plan of actions you’ll need to follow to achieve your goal. That guide I linked to is one that will help you with this side of things, and will help you form your overall business plan.
If you’re struggling to put a business plan together and want some guidance with what you should be doing next in terms of your music career, you may want to check out my ‘next steps’ program.
Work At Achieving Your Goals
Once you’ve defined what success is to you, you know what you’re willing to do to achieve that, and you have a business plan ready to be followed, there’s only one thing left to do: putting in the work to making yourself a success!
Be under no illusion that it’ll be quick and easy; it’s rarely either for the majority of musicians. Music isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. Real work and hours are needed to ‘stand above the noise’, being talented alone isn’t enough to earn from music or get your name out there.
Be prepared to put in as many hours as you can every week, and to sacrifice some of your favorite TV shows and other hobbies in exchange for getting your music out there.
I hope this guide has given you a better idea of what success is to you, and given you some ideas on ways in which you can go about achieving your goals. As with any business, clearly defined goals are needed to know where you’re heading. Add to that hard work and putting in the time, and you’ll increase the likeliness you’ll reach where you want to be tenfold.
If it’s your aim to make money from your music career, you may want to check my free report on doing just that. In there I look at why many musicians fail to make a income from their music (hint: it’s something that can be worked around when you know what the barrier is). I also look at other related issues and give relevant tips and advice.
If your aim is mainly about getting known, you’ll also want to check out my free ebook on marketing (this is different than the previously mentioned ebook so get them both). This is one that’s already helped over 1000 musicians get a better idea of what music marketing is all about, and got them up and running with putting the process into affect.
If you found this guide useful, please share it with your fellow musicians and friends. You can do this by sharing it on your social profiles, or by linking to it from your site for people to follow. I’ll be back with another guide soon. 🙂
#BREAKINGNEWS: Rapper MRNES & EDM Producer PAUL PICASSO have formed an EDM/TRAPSTEP GROUP “Yo!TrapMidi”
EDM producer Paul Picasso and Jersey MC MRNES join forces to create an EDM/Trap Step group called YoTrapMidi. To form the group wasn’t a hard task since they’ve previously worked together on many of MRNES’s hiphop tracks. They both have fallen in love with the Trap World and feel they can take it up a notch and make some amazing tracks together.
Trap music is a music genre that originated in the early 2000s from Southern hip hop and crunk in the Southern United States. In 2012, a new movement of electronic music producers and DJs emerged who began incorporating elements of trap music into their works. This helped expand its popularity among electronic music fans.
Labeled as the “new dubstep”, trap music continues to expand its popularity. The music was initially dubbed simply as “trap” by producers and fans, which led to the term “trap” being used to address the music of both rappers and electronic producers., Instead of referring to a single genre, the term “trap” is used to describe two separate genres of rap and dance music.
No matter your views on Electronic Dance Music, there is one thing for sure – it never fails to keep things interesting in this ever changing industry. The new movement seems to be Trap EDM, or to put it simply, “Trapstep” and it may be blowing up faster than the entire scene itself. If you are not familiar (and I don’t blame you) it’s pretty simple. Imagine all of the wubs, womps, build ups, drops, etc. you surely are used to hearing by now but throw in a looped Gucci Mane or Meek Mill beat with an overwhelming amount of random ad-libs ping ponging through your speakers. That’s trapstep.
YoTrapMidi will be releasing their first EP together self titled YoTrapMidi. Coming soon. Look out for it!!!