How to Avoid Ruining Your Music Career

It turns out that, if you actually want to ruin your music career, all you have to do is follow The Code of the Wreckless Driver. Yes, they actually have a code! I’ll tell you what it is in a moment.

As a pedestrian, a cyclist and a driver myself, I have had many encounters with the kinds of drivers that some affectionately refer to as “idiots”. Just this morning, as I was out walking, I was nearly run down by a hurried SUV driver. This evening, as I was out driving with my family, I was just about run off the road by another wreckless driver.

When these kinds of things happen, all we can do is just shake our heads.

So, here are the 7 laws of The Code of the Wreckless Driver. By the way, if  you want to know how to avoid ruining your music career, just steer clear of these bad habits.

1. Pay no attention to where you’re going.
I don’t know how many near fatal collisions I’ve avoided simply because I was the one paying attention. People just don’t look and see what’s going on around them. It’s like they think they’re the only people that exist on the planet.

Likewise, if there is someone paying more attention to the direction of your music career than you, you’re headed for disaster.

2. Don’t ask for directions.
I know husbands usually take the rap for this one. I hate that stereotype. I also hate driving behind people who have no idea where they’re going. They just don’t have the sense to get out of other people’s way.

Similarly, your music career will stall, and you’ll likely slow others down if you don’t seek direction.

3. Allow yourself to get distracted.
You’re driving along and you get side-tracked by someone walking down the road, or the kids are throwing ice cream at each other in the back seat. Hey, it happens. Unfortunately, if you take your eye off the road for just a second, you could end up in a mess.

When you don’t have specific music career goals, it’s also easy to get distracted. Without a clear focus and plan, you’ll end up wandering all over getting nothing accomplished.

4. Don’t respect your momentum.
You’ve heard of the 2 second rule, right? You should stay at least 2 seconds behind the driver in front of you, giving you time to react. The problem is, if you do that, someone else will sneak in and take that space in front of you. So, don’t let them in. Keep the space between you and the vehicle in front of you to a minimum.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that you have to stay focused on what’s immediately in front of you. You can’t see what’s coming up ahead.

As a musician, if you don’t keep the bigger perspective in mind, you won’t be able to make adjustments in time. For example, you’ll see that everybody else is doing this one particular thing, so you’ll do it as well. When you’re following the pack instead of mapping out your own destiny, you’ll bottom out.

5. Try to do too much at once.
I love the Simpsons episode (season 14, episode 20) where Homer has a cell phone and a bunch of other accessories inside of his car. I think one of them is a deep fryer. He gets so distracted by a fax he just received that he drives off the end of a pier.

In reality, though, it’s obviously not as funny. Perhaps you know of someone who lost their life because they were texting while driving. It’s a shame, and it’s totally avoidable.

When it comes to your music career, you won’t see much progress if you try to do too much at once. How do you know if you’re spreading yourself too thin or trying to wear all the hats? You do things like, try to record an album when you’re out on tour, or you play in 5 different bands at once, you know, until one takes off. Maybe you try focusing on several different genres at the same time. Where does that take you? Maybe for a long drive off a short pier!

6. Consider your agenda as the highest priority.
“I’ve got to be first!” This seems to be the attitude of the wreckless driver. I’ve actually had people pass me up on a two-lane highway and then drive the same speed as me once they were in front. They didn’t want to go faster, they just couldn’t stand being behind me. They had to be first.

To avoid crashing as a musician, don’t forget about relationships, trust and good will. Don’t walk over everybody else just to get to the top. If you just want to get where you want to go, as quickly as you can, to enjoy all the benefits of “arriving”, you’re going to be miserable.

7. Have no respect for authority.
I remember one time, driving down the highway, I passed this unbelievable driver. He had his left foot sticking out the window, was reclined way back, had a cell phone in his right hand and was making hand gestures with his left hand. No hands on the wheel. I thought, “Man, this guy is just asking to be pulled over and have his license revoked!”

A good way to show disdain for authority when it comes to your music career is to ignore copyright laws. Cover other musicians’ music without permission and put it on YouTube, you know, just to get some attention and recognition. Ooh, and here’s another one – don’t report all your income on your taxes. The feds don’t really need to know how much money you’ve made!

Avoid these potholes and your music career will be a much smoother ride. Do these things, however, and you’ll have other musicians speeding past you yelling, “Learn how to drive, you idiot!”