How To Stay Motivated and Ambitious As a Musician

It is quite normal for any ambitious and dedicated individual to get demotivated if the expected results disappoint. You’ve put in all the hard work and effort; followed the perfect recipe for success, and you constantly get knocked down by gate-keepers or you’re not getting the support that you desperately need.

Today we’ll have a closer look at the causes of declining motivation so that we can rather prevent instead of recover. Then we’ll check what we can do to stay motivated and not lose the burning fire to reach our full potential as musicians.

What are the Causes of Declining Motivation for Musicians?

Discovering the causes of declining motivation is a reflective process that each artist needs to find for themselves.

It hangs together with not setting realistic goals for you to reach, and you’ll just have to readjust in order for you to set more achievable goals.

Here are the causes that often contribute to musicians becoming demotivated:

Lack of Paid Bookings

Being a musician costs lots of money. You probably don’t mind spending money on the most basic pieces of equipment that you might need, but taking into consideration all of the running expenses you’ll have to go on is really demotivating when you don’t feel that there’s something coming back at you.

Especially in the beginning when you are making a name for yourself, this could get out of hand:

  • Transportation costs
  • Servicing your gear
  • Band room hire
  • Printing merchandise and other band necessities
  • Recording/mixing/mastering expenses

These ongoing expenses can shorten your patience for success when you really should focus on writing and creating music and performing live.

My suggested solution: Make peace with the fact that you are investing that money in your musical dream. Make a budget per month and check that you don’t go over the limit so that you can feel comfortable having set out the funds for your hobby and to follow your dreams.

Songwriters Block

The lack of inspiration is often a reason that artists get demotivated and lose their passion. Especially when the factors that motivated and inspired you aren’t there anymore.

Of course, there are various reasons that contribute to songwriter’s block. For in-depth solutions, scan through my article Modern Methods to Avoid Songwriter Block.

This article was written and published by De Wet from on 09.09.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere other than on my website.

An artist experiencing songwriters block (Photo credit: Canva)

Lack of Personal Support Structure

We all need a basis of support in life, especially for the challenging and testing phases. This is often your inner circle of trusted people like your family or friends where you feel that you can talk about your worries and stress, and where you can have a go-to person who motivates you when you feel down.

Without a structure like this, we get demotivated very easily and start with doubting ourselves.

My suggested solution: Recognise those in your inner circle and make sure that you are able to visit them on a weekly basis. Being around the ones you love will immediately make you feel more confident and supported.

No Replies

So you’ve spent hours drafting hundreds of emails to radio stations, performance venues, event organisers and festivals, just to either get negative responses or no response at all?

You are definitely not alone. That happens to everyone that’s trying to get a foot in the door.

The positive thing that we don’t realise is that you are promoting yourself in the process.

Not getting a reaction does not mean that you are being unnoticed.

De Wet Kruger

It happened to me quite often where we’ve reached out to so many people, that when you finally perform at this festival or venue, the management was already well acquainted with our music and style.

Of course, I had to ask them why we never got a chance in the past. And often their answers were similar: That they wanted to observe our ambition and growth from a distance.

It made sense to me since the gatekeepers are bringing in artists that bring more listeners to them.

Even though it contributed to my demotivation; ambition, longevity and perseverance is the key to success here.

Performing In an Empty Venue

Performing to nobody but the venue staff after you’ve done all you can to invite special guests and fill the venue, is not only embarrassing but also very demotivating.

This is probably the one area that got me the worst. You feel so let down after getting the opportunity to play and entertain, but it ends up being a band rehearsal.

It happened quite often with my band and we started to make jokes about going to band practice and gigging is the same thing for us.

In the end, I’m not so sure if we set our goals accurately.

My suggested solution is to find buddy bands to perform together and share each other’s fans. In this way, you can easily occupy an audience for 3 hours, fill the venue and make new fans for yourself. The advantages are limitless.

You can even organise your own band night if you’d like: You can find The Guide to Organise an Amateur Band Night for Charity right here for free!

Unproductive Band Practices

Band practices should have a balance between being goal-driven and each band member getting what they came for. If people go home feeling like it was a waste of time, they will reconsider coming back again for another session.

It is not useful if your smoke break turns into a 30-minute time waste break because the guys have a lot to catch up on.

Set realistic and achievable goals to reach for each practice, and divide these into sessions. People commit to a structure quite easily when they know what needs to be achieved. It’s as if we feel like our lives can’t go on without completing the to-do list.

I set up a list of 7 Tips for Productive Band Practices for you to follow and stay productive.

Band Conflict

All bands have their awkward moments where there might be a vibe in the band room and there are some unsaid things still hanging in the air.

If these things continue to be silent, you’ll sit with a bigger problem in the near future. When people clash, they are automatically less motivated and they avoid anything that has to do with whatever is irritating them.

My recommended solution is to offer support and request it be solved privately, and if this is not possible, perhaps with a mediator.

Check out my article called 9 Steps to Deal with Conflict in Your Band which could be useful for your current situation.

Growing Competition

It is a headache seeing more and more artists saturating the market, and you are still stuck in first gear.

The best that you can do is to keep your head down, build your setlist and song repertoire and keep performing as much as you can. Very often your turn for success is right around the corner if you set your goals correctly.

An artist performing at a local venue (Photo credit: Canva)

Stubborn Gatekeepers

Even if your friend is a gatekeeper, they will still be challenging to convince, especially for beginner artists.

We had a friend at a radio station who had the afternoon drive show, but he could never help us get playlisted. We then tried another tactic, and that was to use him as our own personal MC at gigs.

It made quite an impact when a celebrity MC called you to the stage during a battle of the bands or band nights. It definitely made us progress as a band, but we still didn’t manage to win the Battles 😀

My recommended solution: Be persistent, continue to network, and keep on building your band CV. Your band CV, or your EPK, presents a record of your achievements which reflects your growth and hard work.

What Can I Do To Stay Motivated and Ambitious?

Let’s look at how we can manage to stay motivated and see constant growth and progress that will keep us motivated:

Set Realistic Goals

The key to staying motivated is to have realistic goals. This keeps the band a unit and makes everyone work together like a machine. Especially when each band member has their own tasks to focus on.

There should be long-term and short-term goals to achieve. If your wish is to record a demo in a year, then book the studio and start saving money, or find an alternative way. Just make the plans and pull it through as a unit.

My article about Goal Setting for Bands and Artists would be a helpful read if you’d like some guidance.

Build a Musician Community

Once a week I meet up with a musician buddy and we share ideas and talk about the daily frustrations. Very often we have solutions for each other and we also try to open doors for each other where we can.

Imagine having a whole community or network of these people helping and supporting each other. Surround yourself with the people that will drive you forward, not pull you back.

You need to be released from the factors holding you back and spend time with the positive and optimistic people who will keep your glass filled with ideas, opportunity and forward momentum.

Create a Productivity Routine

The basis of being motivated is actually knowing what you need to do.

Having a weekly routine of all the aspects that you need to cover during the week helps you to head forward and get the job done.

Find the 10-15 elements that you will need to focus on per week and schedule it throughout your week so that you can do something productive each day to continuously take invisible steps forward.

You’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll see success in a few months’ time.

A musician staying productive by practicing her setlist (Photo credit: Canva)


Being out and mingling with others in the industry helps you to deal with difficult or demotivating periods. You will gain new contacts and quickly realise that others also have similar struggles.

I loved attending random band nights and rock shows just to chat with the organisers, sound engineers, artists and fans.

If you are interested in learning the skills to network and perhaps find an opening performance for a successful artist, check out my article called Landing an Opening Gig for a Succesful Band.

Have More Lines In the Water

Don’t only rely on one specific source for your success, but spread them across various areas and industries, and take on as many opportunities as you can possibly get your hands on.

The industry is huge and there’s always space for one more, as long as you keep your head up, stay positive and optimistic, and get the job done.

Every day you wait longer is another day lost, so make sure you try to do your bit each day to move the needle forward.

Here’s some articles for a next read:

Until next time, Rock On!

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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