A lot of artists come to me confused. "How come I'm not more successful?"
Well, there are a myriad of reasons and possibilities. Maybe you’re sabotaging your career.
Wait! Is it really that simple? Are some artists and bands simply too afraid of failing (or of actually succeeding) ...that they never really give it a true shot?
It's ego. It's self-esteem (or lack of it).
Is the reason that somehow, deep down, a lot of artists who don't "make it" fail because they secretly, deep down, believe they don't deserve it...so they do all these things that appear on the surface to show that they are working at it.... but all the while are sabotaging their own efforts? Probably.
I can provide numerous examples....
1) Maybe you finally book that dream gig…but you wait until the last minute to invite people to the show. You assume friends and fans and family will show up...but don’t personally reach out to everyone via social media, email or phone. And the show has a dismal turnout.
2) Maybe you outsource the PR and promotion for your album and assume the person you hire (and your manager) will do ALL the work...but you fail to do any yourself.
3) Maybe your publicist or manager set up a big interview or meeting for you. But you show up late or “forget” to call or show up at all.
4) I've seen some strange things in my day. I once stumbled upon an amazing new artist. Her investor/producer/manager/record label spent years working with her. After months of emails and meetings, it was finally time to promote and release the album.
Suddenly, emails to her representative were going unanswered. Phone calls and text messages were ignored. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. I literally could not get in touch with her via any means of communication when previously, she'd been very responsive. After a few months of this odd behavior, I had to pull the plug and walk away from this amazing artist.
It really broke my heart because this artist had something truly special. It really is sad and the only explanation I could have is that her label/manager was suddenly was too nervous to release an album he had put his soul into producing and paying for.
5) I've managed bands in the past that had INCREDIBLE opportunities to write songs for major films. And what do they do when this opportunity comes up? Ignore their calls. Disappear. Literally go MIA. If you're not interested for some reason, it's fine, but to just VANISH? That's sabotage. At least have the decency to get back to your manager or publicist and explain why you are passing on an opportunity that could literally MAKE your career.
6) Years ago, I was lucky enough to sign an artist who had been signed to a major label at the age of 19 but was now independent and had just moved to L.A. Well, what did she do when she moved here? Go out and gig and promote her shows like crazy? No. Not at all. She sat at home. She played maybe one or two gigs a year. "You have to play shows if you're in L.A.," I'd tell her. "It's a waste of time," she would reply. "Waste of time?" I thought to myself. That’s crazy. How else are you going to get out there, create a buzz, grown your fan base and move your career forward? Plus, in Los Angeles, you never know what movie director or producer or major celebrity is going to be in the audience! Maybe a band will discover you and take you on tour with them! But she sat at home, reading books and eventually ended up moving back home and getting married. There's nothing wrong with that. But I knew she could have been a superstar if she'd just been willing to do the work.
In summary, the most popular way to sabotage one’s music career is to make bad decisions. It could be anything from signing a bad record deal or shady publishing deal, to hiring an inexperienced or bad manager or publicist, to not working every day to write new songs, play shows and promote one's music. Or maybe it doesn’t really matter to some people in the end. I've stood there after major music festivals where my band has performed in front of 10,000 fans...and I'm the only one still at the merch booth selling t-shirts while they went home. It was a hard lesson to learn...but they just didn't want it badly enough. "Never work harder than your artists," a famous manager once told me. And he was right.
What's the lesson to be learned from this? Make smart decisions. Check references. Trust your gut! Don't sabotage a very prom-ising music career! At the end of the day, I think a lot of this comes down to self-esteem. I probably wouldn't manage another act again unless they went to therapy. Because I think a LOT of people sabotage themselves.
Anyhow, I hope this article helps shed light on an all-too-common problem that people can address and become more successful as a result.
Believe in yourself! Know that you deserve it! Crush that gig! Promote the hell out of that show! Write that hit song! Rehearse like your life depends on it. Play every show like it's your last! Promote that amazing video on YouTube! Hire an amazing manager and publicist! (Not the one you secretly know won't do a good job.)
Do whatever you need to do to become successful.
You deserve it!
JENNIFER YEKO is a 20-year music veteran who currently owns and operates True Talent PR, truetalentpr.com. Her specialty is film/tv promotion, music licensing, artist management and public relations. See truetalentpr.com.