One Quality Every Musician Must Have

“Rome wasn’t built in a day” my wife tells me as I communicate to her that things aren’t moving along as quickly as I’d like.

Well, right she may be, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Sometimes being a musician is tough business. Wait, what am I saying? It’s ALWAYS a tough business! That’s why one quality every musician must have, if they ever hope to be successful, is persistence.

You see, we as musicians are entrepreneurs. If you’ve never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur…well, maybe that’s why your music career isn’t doing as well as you would like it to. You can’t win a battle you don’t even know you’re fighting!

One thing I have had to learn, and continue to learn, is to not be naive. What are some typical naive thoughts we can have as musicians?

  • If I record a song or a CD, lots of people will buy it.
  • If I book a gig a lot of people will come. (“If you build it, they will come.”)
  • If I create a website, a lot of people will come visit it.
  • If I post something on facebook or twitter, I’ll get a lot of response.

It’s almost as if we think that people are just virtually lined up, with nothing better to do, waiting for us to take action so they can respond to it.

What we have to do is compete. We are in a competition for people’s attention. We may not have to compete with other musicians for their attention. What we are competing with may be apathy, business, dishes, laundry, video games, TV shows, the news, an obnoxious person on the train, etc. People are bombarded constantly with distractions. When someone gives you their attention – man, it’s worth something! You’ve really accomplished something!

My point is that success doesn’t happen overnight. This is a truth that you will be reminded of over and over. It takes patience and persistence.

In his timeless classic Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill observed that “riches do not respond to wishes. They respond only to definite plans, backed by desires, through constant PERSISTENCE.”

I think of a patient farmer. In the Springtime he plants. He waters, or, more realistically, hopes for rain, all summer long. He can only do so much. He has to let things grow at their own pace. No matter how desperately he wishes, he cannot make the harvest come to fruition before its appointed time.

Thinking of this reminded me of a poem that I had memorized when I was a small child. It’s probably been 35 years or more since I’ve thought of this poem, but it all came back to me today as though it were yesterday…

A little seed for me to sow
A little earth to make it grow
A little hole, a little pat
A little wish, and that is that
A little sun, a little shower
A little while…and then a flower

At the end of the day, all we can say is, “I am satisfied by taking enough action today.”