Monday 16 April 2012

How to make it in the music business

So you want to know how to make it in the music business.

I dream big, I always have. My goals are not normal and I’m good with that. I have a two and a half year Letterman goal that I started about a year ago. I’m on this journey and I plan to share it with whoever is willing to read this and go along with me. I will get there.

So why David Letterman? Well the way I see it is, if I’ve made it onto the David Letterman show it means that I have something of value out there being heard by everyone. In essence Letterman means I have reached my goal and I’ll finally be recognized for all the years of hard work that I have put into the music business. Plus whenever you do the Letterman week, you are also doing Good Morning America and SNL.

We’ll get more into Letterman in future posts, but today I’m going to provide some ideas and insight for you so that maybe your road, if you dream as large as I, isn’t so long getting to where you want to be. I started when I was 17 and now I’m 42, you do the math. Here we go!

Making a decision about your life and your career

I made a decision a long time ago that if I was going to spend all my energy on something and put in years focusing on a profession it might as well be music. In the end, if I were successful the payoff would be greater and the journey much more colorful. As my journey is still going, I would say I have not reached my final goal but I’ve seen some successes, lots of failures and tremendous colour.

Be patient with yourself.

During my childhood, I became lowly skilled at about 10 instruments, before settling on piano when I was 17. Looking back now if I would have stayed with the first one I chose, the Mandolin and not given up, then I would have been able to pick up Guitar, Banjo and Bass as a matter of course. So sticking with things and being patient with yourself first and foremost, is probably the most important step that needs to be realized.

Believe in yourself

I was fortunate enough to have been instructed by some iconic piano players. These mentors showed up at the right times in my life and helped to take me to the next step in my musical development. This pivot in my life, i'll call it, also occurred when my grade 9 english teacher read one of my short stories to the class. I knew from a young age that I had some ability to write, but her small action made me really believe it. I was fortunate enough to have these people in my life believe in me, and eventually I started to believe it too. So believing in your abilities, or at least the ability to believe in yourself is paramount to making it in this industry, find a mentor!

Work towards mastering your instrument

A great artist has taken the time to master her/his instrument. During my last year at Humber College in Toronto, where I learned Jazz piano, I was turned on to the great brilliant blind pianist Art Tatum. I got to thinking about how his blindness in some way gave him an extra edge as a piano player. With this in mind I started practicing piano in the dark. At first it was very difficult but after forcing myself to work like this for a couple of months, the piano and my fingers and my minds eye all became one.


Doing this for as long as I have, I can say truthfully there have been times when I thought the burning desire to follow my goals would just fizzle out. Somehow though it hasn’t and I’ve pushed through some fairly tough challenges. Anyone who’s ever “Made it” has a fire that can’t be put out. Its cliché I know but there is no other way to say it, you have to really want this with every particle of energy that encompasses your being.

Think Big

If you are going to have a goal or a “Dream”, another cliché and I apologize but that’s what people know, you might as well think in the largest realms possible. Why not, its yours to own and yours to get. How hard you are going to work at it to get it is completely up to you. Why not say, I’m going to do this and no one is going to stop me. No one can really stop you. Only you can stop it yourself.

Well I’ll leave it there for now. If you have a big heart and want to share it with the world then you should.

I’d really appreciate any comments or questions on this subject and my journey. If you dream big or have lofty goals then shout them out. All the world is a stage. 


  1. Excellent advice for all who want to share our "music" whatever form that may take.


  2. Hi, Cynergist. Yes, thats totally it, when I was writing this I was only thinking music but I now see the idea does apply to whatever you want to bring


  3. Great post. I'm re-inspired! Any suggestions as to how to go about getting a mentor?

    1. Hi, thanks for the great question.
      I think the best way to find a mentor is to search out someone who has already achieved success in the field that you want to get into. If you were a musician a player who is constantly working and making a living would be someone you'd want to reach out to. Don't ask them to be your mentor mind you, but you can ask them what steps they took personally to get to where they are. They will be honoured by your candidness and having already been where you are in the past, they'll offer up some valuable information to you.