7 Ways to Destroy Your Music Career

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Everybody wants to know the easy, proven steps to music success. Therefore, every expert offers positive, uplifting advice to help you reach your goals – including me.

Well, it’s time to shake things up, which explains why this post takes a look at the dark side: How to ruin your music career in seven easy steps!

Watch the video version or read the text version below …

1) Give Away Your Personal Power

The first step to destroying your music career is to realize that your destiny is in the hands of other people and circumstances beyond your control. Fully embrace the fact that you need to be in the right place at the right time to get your “lucky break” and be “discovered.”

Industry people and music critics must deem you worthy of success for you to have value as a musician. Also, cling to the belief that all the answers are “out there” somewhere and you will be incredibly successful at failure.

2) Turn Marketing, Promotion and Sales Into a Huge Burden

Do you really wanna fall flat fast? Then start referring to marketing as a “necessary evil” now. Realize that you don’t have what it takes to “sell yourself” and reach more fans. In fact, there’s probably a biological reason you hate promotion: you were born without the critical marketing gene that all of those “gift of gab” people have. Therefore, you are destined to live a lifetime of hardship as you struggle with having to engage in the ugly chore of self-promotion.

3) Be Fearful of Being Perceived as a Greedy, Capitalist Pig

Paranoia will go a long way to helping you fall short of a thriving music career – especially when it comes to earning money. Just know that every one of your fans is watching you and waiting to jump ship the second they smell any scent of capitalism. Therefore, if you make any sales pitches at all, they better be so low key as to be barely perceptible.

In fact, it would be best not to even make people aware that you have things for sale. Just wait till they come to you. If they’re interested, they’ll ask. And if you want to score extra points, when they do ask, tell them you left all of your CDs and T-shirts at home.

4) Use a Lack of Time, Money and Connections as Your Biggest Excuse

Here’s a surefire way to go down in flames: Have convenient scapegoats based on scarcity. Tell anyone who asks (as well as a lot of people who don’t ask or care) how lousy your career is because of all the lack in your life. Frequently use phrases such as “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” “If I had that kind of money, I’d be a rock star too,” and “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” To spice things up, every now and then throw in an angry reference to “The man.”

5) Market Yourself to the Faceless Masses Using Traditional Big Media

Why spend all that time dealing one on one with fans, when someone could just throw a bunch of money (you know, the funds you don’t have enough of now) into a massive marketing campaign? Realize that it takes big bucks spent on radio promotion, retail placement, billboards, and paid display ads in national magazines to succeed. This mass media mindset is your ticket to success … at hitting the fast track to failure.

Bonus tip: Never answer your email from fans, and rarely – if ever – log into your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Better yet, don’t even start these accounts!

6) Promote Yourself Sporadically and Only When It’s Urgent

If you have a mailing list (and with sucky email delivery and open rates these days, why bother?), be sure the fans on your list don’t hear from you very often. One of the best “road to ruin” marketing tactics is blasting your fans with urgent “come to my show” or “buy my new album now” messages when they haven’t heard from you in months. Your ultimate goal is to have fans read your promotions and go, “Who is this band again?”

7) Know That Everyone Owes You Something Simply Because You Exist

I’ve saved the best way to destroy your music career for last. Simply know that everyone will care as much about you and your music as you do. Understand that complete strangers will indeed listen to every note of your 70-minute concept album and read every word of your 10-page bio. Be sure to send long, in-depth emails and leave lengthy, rambling voice mail messages for the imbeciles who don’t recognize your greatness. Also, be sure to insult anyone who doesn’t get back to you within 10 minutes.

There you have it – the top seven ways to destroy your music career.

Destroy Your Music CareerSo … what are you waiting for? Get out there and demote yourself!!!


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  1. Janice says:

    This really applies to Christian musicians as well, who think because God called them to music, it should be easy.

  2. Leanne Regalla says:

    Great article, Bob. I’m just wondering where I get a jacket with dollar bills all over it! 🙂

  3. It looks like you’ve hit every one of my flaws. Really eye opening! Loved the post! I’m going to keep this in mind when I try to talk myself out of booking shows…

  4. Clay says:

    Well put, Bob! It’s kinda sad how many of us fall into those exact ways of thinking! I’m pretty guilty of using the lack of time and money as an excuse.

    Definitely worth sharing…linking to it on my blog.

    Clay Butler
    MusicIsMyBiz.com – Put your music to work for you!

  5. Boni says:

    Simply perfect: concise, clear, funny, true! Let me just add one more way to ruin your career – DON’T READ Bob’s blog!

  6. Stephen Lee says:

    Love it! Very inciteful.

  7. Ron says:

    Great article. Love the satire. And SO true.

  8. Phil Circle says:

    I’m so glad that you’ve approached these classic exercises in self destruction Bob! Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! I’ll be forwarding this to my musical friends here in Chicago to coax them from their foxholes.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m in the minority but I don’t find this inspirational at all… it strikes me as a little bit nasty…but I guess that’s popular.

  10. geoffrey says:

    Love it Bob!

    1 – 6 have been doozies for me. Luckily past tense!

    I thought of this:

    Don’t spend any time developing your creativity, writing quality songs or making great recordings. You’re far too talented to waste time on that!

    Great content as always!

  11. Bob, I can only add my “amen” to what you have said and what most everyone else has said in response. I personally regard each promotional cycle as just another facet of the creative process. Each one is an opportunity to create a great effect on the fan or potential fan and each is another little creation in one’s growing career.

  12. Indieheaven says:

    Bob, excellent advice. Ill share this with my tribe. This really applies to Christian musicians as well, who think because God called them to music, it should be easy.
    Keith Mohr

  13. And for goodness sake, be sure to send out shotgun emails to every venue, no matter how wildly inappropriate for your style of music and fan base size.
    You’re just bound to get a slot opening for some huge act that way!
    For even better results, be sure not to follow up at all on any of those shotgun blasts. If the venue is interested in you, I’m sure they’ll jump at the chance to go out of their way to contact you.

  14. Toggo says:

    Bob, this is priceless. It’s funnier than hell, and SO apropo at the same time. Bravo.

  15. Paul Babelay says:

    Yes, those are timeless traditions. I would only add 2 things: Don’t ever take lessons on your instrument. (You’ve got such a unique thing going already) And by all means, don’t rehearse. It stays much more real & fresh.

  16. Atul says:

    #3 affects a lot of musicans. It sure affected me a while ago! But the satisfaction in selling music is really something else when you *do* start making those sales!

  17. Anne Roos says:

    Actually, you could sum up many of these points as simply, “Act like a diva”. Great post, Bob!

  18. MikeyMell says:

    Bob, sometimes your posts inspire me and sometimes they don’t.

    This post is one of the most cathartic things I’ve read in months. Please hand this article out to everyone to syndicate, so all the morons and bedroom bandits can ask themselves “OMG, is he talking about me?”

    Great work man! Truly one of your best works and a definite portfolio piece!

  19. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the reality check, Bob, I really needed it

  20. dave says:

    #8 always be “the Rock Star”. when you’ve made the mistake of accepting a gig with another band… make sure to complain about your spot in the line up. if you’re the opener, when your set is done if you didn’t go over your time slot (and why didn’t you?), you should at least take as much time as possible getting off the stage. and regardless of when your turn is, make sure you show up late (right before your set if possible) & leave immediately after you’re done. don’t make the mistake of supporting the other band(s) especially when they gave you the gig!!!

  21. HA! Once again, you hit it on the head…especially #7. Great read Bob…lets hope some people take the smart advice…especially #7! LOL…..


  22. That was absolutely priceless.

    Actually, I, like many others battle with pessimistic tendencies and a penchant for sarcasm daily. This is the exact RIGHT way to motivate us.

    Maybe you should start a super negative “alter ego” blog and with every blog post here, write the exact opposite there!

    “Rob Raker’s Indie Music Demotion Blog?”

    Well done as always.

  23. Marcus says:

    Excellent article Bob, truthful yet humorous. A+, thanks:)