Is it possible to achieve music success in nine weeks? Really? It seems too good to be true. But it all depends on what you mean by “success”. Does success mean that I’ve “made it”? In my case, no—at least not in the sense that I am making a steady living from music. But one has to consider where I started from when I started the course and where I am now, and I can definitely say that I am well on my way.
I just went back to read my very first blog post when starting this program. Here are excerpts from that first post to give you an idea where I started from.
With fear and trepidation I am jumping off the cliff. The cliff represents the safety of all my self-doubts about my ability to “make it” in a music career. The cliff represents all of the reasons why I haven’t done this before and why I now can’t do anything else. “Jump and the net will appear” so the saying goes. I guess I believe it, but I won’t really prove I believe it unless I jump.
My cliff, to (hopefully) make a long story short: I am in my 50’s. I have always wanted to make music my career. But due to my pragmatic nature, I went back to college in my early 20’s and got a “real job”. While I made a comfortable living, I still did music on the side. I got involved in contemporary worship music in the 90’s and I got several songs published. One of those, “Draw Me Close” has done very, has been sung around the world by millions, has been recorded by the likes of John Tesh and Michael W. Smith, and is now considered a worship “classic”. I’m not making this stuff up. I have been SO blessed by this success.
After the turn ‘o’ the century, I recorded a piano instrumental entitled “Draw Me Close”. (Shameless exploitation of the success of my hit song or just being a smart business person? You decide.) I had some early success—selling out my first batch of 1,000—and people love the CD. But sales the last few years have slowed to a trickle. I totally want to do another one, but without proper promotion, I have been hesitant to put the money in.
A recent hand injury forced me to leave my comfy career in computer programming. I can still play piano without too much discomfort, but typing away at a computer keyboard all day long is no longer an option. So off the cliff I go…
So that’s where I’ve started from. My goal is to build up a career performing and recording instrumental music. But currently, I barely gig much at all and I only have the CD that I recorded nine years ago to offer as merchandise. I feel like I’m starting from the very beginning.
Music success in nine weeks? Have I “made” it? Not yet. One can’t expect miracles when starting with very little. But I am much further along to making headway in the current environment. Consider what I have accomplished through the steps in Ariel’s book:
- I now have clear goals of what I want to achieve
- I can now clearly articulate in a couple of sentences what type of music I do
- I now have a central website focusing on my performing and recording career
- I am now giving away some songs for free to lure people to my site
- I am now making sense of Twitter, using it more effectively, and truly feeling a part of the global community of artists, musicians, writers, and music industry people.
- I am now learning how to engage the global community of bloggers by listening to what others have to say and finding my own voice in the conversation.
- I have sent out my very first newsletter and am committed to sending one out every month or two. And I achieved over a 50% open rate!
- I now have a system in place to grow my mailing list, and it is growing! In fact, 400% in the last two weeks!
- Just three weeks ago, I had three wonderful opportunities to practice real live networking. Utilizing the advice in the book, I made myself memorable in my interactions and have discovered a thriving, local wine industry which has great potential for marketing my music. And… I played my first winery gig last weekend!
- After nine years of no new music, I have been so encouraged by my progress that I’m going into the studio to record a new CD in about 10 days, and I am developing a continuum strategy around the release later this fall.
- Prior to this, I really didn’t have a clue about what to do or where to begin. Although I knew the importance of leveraging social media, I felt completely overwhelmed by it.
Now I have a vision and I have tools. Employing the principles of regular and consistent communication with my fan base lets them know that I am serious and committed to this. They know I’m “all in”. And they have been very encouraging to me. I now have a few “true fans”.
But even more importantly than people knowing that I am committed, this process has served to help me over a psychological hurdle: That I have a voice and people are genuinely interested in what I have to offer.
Considering where I started from and where I am now, this sure feels like success to me.