For recording and performing artists who are in or want to be in commercial music business, meaning the making and selling of music, I have a suggestion for you:
Separate music and business in your mind and in your actions. Why? Because unless you do, you will not do either as effectively or successfully.
What do I mean?
When you are in the act of making music (writing, recording, performing), have a clear goal in mind... to deliver a message with impact. If instead your primary goal is to
- win the contest,
- make money,
- impress powers that be
When you are in the act of doing business, think like a business person and not like an artist. If you don't, you will
- excuse yourself because you are have an artist mindset that doesn't want to get into the details of business strategy or balancing a checkbook (really this is laziness),
- pick songs for your project or set list that don't relate to the audience you seek to win,
- get bitter instead of better, blaming someone else or the changing industry for your failure and your financial insecurity.
So... If you want to be successful in the music business, do two things well:
- Make great music! Create and perform your art bravely and freely. Watch out for playing too safe, too far away from what your heart loves, or dumbing your music down to fit a market that isn't right for you. And...
- Take care of business! Learn current successful music marketing and promotion strategies. Seek out, join, network and actively participate in organizations where you can find trustable industry insiders with good information. Look for chances to meet one on one with folks who can help you. Keep your income-making "day job" until you're making enough money with your music to support yourself. You also will be far less likely to fall prey to scams out of desperation to succeed.
The real mark of success in the music business is... did you reach the heart of your audience and are you financially secure while you do it? This kind of success is deeply rewarding. To find it, you don't have to be a superstar, you just have to be secure and happy with your art.