13 Struggles Of Being a Musician

Being a musician has plenty of struggles and stumbling stones. Each type of musician or band will even have their own challenges.

Today we’ll address many of the struggles that I went through, as well as other musicians, to give you an outlook on what to be aware of during your career and journey as a musician.

By the way, if you are currently starting your band, I wrote a complete checklist for you, absolutely free, that you can get right here: The MEGA Starting a Band Checklist

So in no particular order, let’s get into it.

Song Writer Block

This is such an underestimated and real challenge. We all go through phases where we are emotionally drained and still need to produce. When there’s no time for holidays and we need to meet deadlines and reach certain expectations.

Sometimes I am even amazed by how well many artists handle this quite well!

The solutions are to stay healthy mentally and physically. Make time for yourself to go to the gym or practice a hobby outside of music where you can meet new people and gain a different perspective than what you are used to.

You will come back refreshed and ready to put new thoughts to paper and deliver a better quality of work.

I wrote a complete guide on Modern Methods to Avoid Songwriter Block where you’ll find a massive range of tips and ideas to stay productive.

Finding Committed Band Members

This is certainly a main struggle and a big reason that many bands break up at the end.

Finding the right people to spend years with and streamlining each person’s goals, and keeping everybody committed, engaged, and being listened to, is a massive challenge for any band leader or manager.

You will hardly ever find members to replace the original ones, and if you do, it certainly takes time for each member to find their feet, get settled in, and stay committed.

My advice is to include trial periods in the agreements so that both parties can test the commitment out before a final decision is made. It often feels like a good match at the beginning and after a month or two, the true colours start to show.

I wrote a full-on blog post about How to Find Committed Band Members right here.

Balancing Your Band With Your Personal Life

Practising and performing at night restricts the time you’ll spend with family and loved ones. That’s why band life has ended many relationships over the years.

It is a tough one to deal with because as much as you want your career to progress, you also want your family to feel loved and supported by you.

I often try to place myself in their shoes and think about what I would’ve wanted. This helps me with setting up a routine and security for the people around me.

Routines create stability. Where there’s stability, conflict decreases.

De Wet Kruger

My rule of thumb is to place as much importance on finding a routine for my band members and families involved. Perhaps 2 practices during the week and one gig on a weekend. This helps family members to know that you are making an effort to be there for them and then they feel like they can support you.

I posted an article about How to Balance Your Band Commitments With Personal Life not too long ago.

Setting Achievable Goals

Not everything is in your hands. You can not control the industry or even if your crowd will drive the extra mile to fill your venue. But we can surely try to set achievable goals and see how close we can get to reaching them.

Most bands just try to practice once in a while and perform where and how they can. After 24 months of doing this, they are still in the same place as before.

The reason: They had no goals in place.

It’s crucial for any artist that takes their work seriously, especially since you invest so much time and heart into a project to see some growth, and the way we measure this is by setting clear goals that the whole band agree with.

By reflecting after a few months, you can see how you have grown and developed as a unit both for performances, but also in the general music industry.

I would highly recommend that you read my post about Goal Setting for Bands and Artists to support you in getting these in place because you deserve to see the progress you make!

A goal-driven band rehearsal (Photo credit: Canva)

Building a Following

The biggest headache for any musician is wondering if they will reach the minimum amount of ticket sales and please the audience in attendance so that they will return.

I’ve played in front of empty audiences before; truly a disappointing and humbling experience. You feel like you want to blame yourself but you’ve done all you can to bring in a couple of people at least, and it doesn’t happen.

Then we ended up having to pay for the sound out of our own pockets. A terrible and very disappointing feeling that slaughters your ego and motivation.

Perhaps it was an important experience to look into the mirror and understand that we’ve still got a massive journey ahead of us.

A few tips that solved this for us were:

  • Most definitely setting proper goals are crucial so that you don’t punch above your weight.
  • Knowing that you have a fan base in certain areas.
  • Share the stage with other artists first

You’ll find my full article about How to Build a Following and Finally Fill Your Venues here.

Marketing Yourself

So you have music out and solid social media platforms, but you’re not getting the full attention that your music deserves and you’re also not sure how to handle it all?

Well the core of marketing for a musician is:

  • Producing Music
  • Creating video content
  • Performing relevant gigs
  • Interacting with your audiences

If you use these 4 pillars to the best of your ability, you should be on the verge of achieving your goals.

I published an article about Self-Market Your Music to guide you through the process of getting your foot in the door.

Getting Booked Regularly

Once you have a foot in the door at various venues and you have a decent following that attends your gigs, it’s easy to get regular bookings. But getting there is a challenge.

There are a few steps that you could try to improve this:

  1. Update your press kit so that you have a record of your achievements to send out to the venues.
  2. Create an email list of all the possible venues that you could perform at.
  3. Advertise and create awareness of your availability to perform live.
  4. Contact radio stations and make your presence heard via interviews.
  5. Reach out to podcasters, bloggers and YouTubers.
  6. Guest appear on open mic nights.
  7. Get an artist manager to support your band and take you to the next level.

These steps and tips helped many artists to broaden their horizons and market themselves to a wider audience than before.

I wrote a complete guide to helping you in achieving these steps which you can find under What to Do to Get Booked Regularly as an Artist.

Setting Your Asking Price

Why is it so hard for us as musicians and bands to set our value and actually request the appropriate fees that we deserve?

Never forget that even if this is your hobby, don’t play for free if it’s a private show or a normal booking. It is crucial that you set the bar and expectations high for you as a musician.

Respect the time and effort and money you have invested into becoming who you currently are. Even if you feel bad taking someone else’s money, think about your bandmates and all that you have gone through. It’s like going to work and telling your boss that you’ll work for free today.

I would rather perform one paid gig per month than 4 gigs with empty rooms, complicated and dodgy venues and being unsure if you’re getting paid.

Perhaps this is something a good music manager can support you with. I’ve only had positive experiences with music managers. I recommend having a manager when you’ve reached this stage. Having the cash in my pocket is not as important as setting the right price for your band.

I would rather set the bar high enough now so that the future looks bright and we know that the higher-paid bookings will come with time from decent and trustworthy venues.

I would recommend that you read my post about When is it Time to Find a Manager for Your Band for the next step.

Getting Booked for a Paid Gig

Achieving this means that you’ve actually gone from beginner to intermediate band.

By now you should have made a name for yourself. A hit single plus a music video on high rotation should be your minimum requirements before you expect the cash to flow in.

That means that you should give your musical project at least 8-24 months before you can expect this type of magic.

I documented the exact steps that it takes to go from zero to hero in my article Steps to Reach your First Paid Gig that will support you along your journey.

This post was written and posted by De Wet from startingmyband.com on 09.07.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.

Confident band performance (Photo credit: Canva)

Performing With Confidence

Seeing a happy audience gives you confidence, but how do you get up on stage without self-doubt and with confidence in your heart that it will all go well?

Many artists have this confidence in them and they were born with it. Others have grown into their musicianship and perform with experience backing them. Then you get individuals that have started a little later but are now performing while building experience.

It is a skill to know what to do on stage. When you watch experienced campaigners doing their thing, you can clearly see they know what the audience wants.

Here’s my guide to Building Confidence for a Musical Performance.

Don’t Get Bored With Your Band

Having the same routine together can sometimes feel like you aren’t getting anywhere which then leads to boredom and frustration.

Using a few tweaks to your approach can certainly lead to bringing the hype and excitement back into your band.

Here are a few tips to not get bored with your band:

  • Bring in a new member for extra spice to your sound and a change in the band’s social structure.
  • Practice a cover outside of your genre.
  • Work on your band chemistry outside of the band room.

Feel free to get the full list of ideas in my article 7 Ways Not to Get Bored With Your Band right here.

Asking a Band Member To Leave

This is the hardest job for anyone to do, but very often this does not come totally unexpected. Quite often a member can feel that it’s not working for them and they decide to leave the band without anyone having to say a word. That would be the preferred method.

If you have to let go of someone, it’s best to do it outside of the band room and have a heart-to-heart talk.

Remember that you can’t just drop somebody if there were no warnings, set expectations or a second chance. Only then you make the job easier because both parties actually know what’s coming.

Of course, there are no-go’s like relationship issues within the band, drug abuse etc.

Have a scan through my detailed guide on How to Ask a Band Member to Leave here.

Having Productive Band Rehearsals

Often when hobby bands come together, it’s a great social event instead of being focused on music.

I’ve also been there and have often realised that the time to socialise and celebrate is after a successful performance. This helped my band in changing their mindset a little bit.

The ideas I usually implement for productive rehearsals are:

  • Implement a practice routine from setting up the gear to carrying it all back again.
  • Set specific goals for the practice.
  • Reflect after the practice about what went well and what you can improve on for next time.
  • Spend enough time together outside of the band room.

There are only a few ideas that helped me tremendously. You can find my full detailed list of Tips for Productive Band Practices right here.

I hope that this article gave you the solutions you need.

If you have any other struggles that you’d like to share, please add them in the comment box below.

Keep performing!

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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