Lessons Being a Musician Taught Me About Businesses

Lessons Being a Musician Taught Me About Businesses

For 15 years I was a performing musician, and the last 4 of those years I took the leap and fronted my own band.  I frequently received the comment “but you’re so shy!”.  Often the perception others have of us isn’t the same perception we have of ourselves.  If I lived by the perception of others I would never had the guts to experience and explore all the realms of possibility that I have. 


Being in the music business for so long I saw all sides of it, from the performing, creative writing process to the technical.  It was through playing music that I developed a lot of skills and learned a lot of lessons that lead me to start my own business. 


These were some of those lessons.




When I decided to step out into the spotlight from my usual backing musician position and lead a band, I really pushed myself to the edges of my comfort zone.  I was content for many years being in the background, bobbing my head playing guitar or bass as a backing musician until I got curious and this urge overcame me.  I decided after 11 years to take the leap and be a front woman, something I had avoided for so long.  I wanted to know if I could do it.


I started playing shows completely solo with just my guitar and my voice…and I have never felt so naked and vulnerable.  Despite my clammy palms, the profuse sweating and nervous shakes, I dragged myself onto that stage and did what I said I could never do.  There I was doing it.  


I tried it.  I hated it.  I decided that I much preferred playing with a full band to these solo shows but I had to get far out of my comfort zone to realize what worked for me.  I still knew I wanted to play live music, just not 100% by myself.   


I wanted full creative control of the song writing, branding and marketing.  So I did it all myself and I found more success than I ever had in those short 4 years.  I found the shows to play, made the album, did the interviews, set up the music video shoot, made the music videos and took our own promo photos.  I wore all the hats while building a brand and packaging it up pretty to present to the world.   


It was then that I knew one day I wanted to run my own business.  I was comfortable with taking risks and my burning curiosity to know what it would be like to be living my vision is what drove me to overcome any reservations, no matter how nervous or unsure I was.  I also discovered through this experience that even though people tell me I’m shy, I am a leader.  People's perceptions of me did not match the perception I had of myself and I saw myself as a leader.    




Performing rehearsed songs - loved it.  Unscripted banter with the crowed - find me a rock to crawl under.  There were aspects I really struggled with but eventually, those aspects just became part of my branding.  Some introverted musicians like myself thrive in the creative processes but crumble at the thought of public speaking.  Both of these aspects are necessary to be successful in the music business.  


So what do you do?  You make it part of your branding.  Why can’t you be the reserved, quiet musician that holds an air of mystery?  Everyone had this idea of what a front person was “supposed” to be like but that just wasn’t me and no matter how hard I tried, it wasn’t genuine.  It was awkward.  So I stopped trying to be someone I wasn’t and worked with what felt natural.  In return, I presented myself as more authentic and made better connections with people. 


I had to acknowledge the aspects I was not so good at but found a way to use them to my advantage, or to at least work with them.  I let it become part of my branding and my story.  Everyone is unique and you can use that to set you apart from the others.  


You are not here to please and appeal to everyone.  The saying goes “when you appeal to everyone you appeal to no one.”  You are here to be your authentic self and when you walk your path in your own truth, the right people will follow.  It becomes much more effortless than trying to squeeze yourself into an idea of who others think you should be.  This only attracts ingenuine people.  Attract exactly what you need by being exactly you. 




The music business is one of the toughest industries to get into.  Especially when you're small potatoes starting out, there are plenty of challenges and most of them are dealing with people.  I have met some amazing people on my musical journey, but I also met some of the most cutthroat, untrustworthy, vindictive people.    


So what do you do when someone’s mask comes off and turn out to be a completely different person?  Or when your name and all your hard work is slandered because someone decided they didn’t like working with you?  Or a band member isn’t acting professional or in accordance to your brand values?  Or if someone won’t let you in your own show because they don’t believe you’re even in the band?


You develop a backbone.  You walk away from people who’s energy drains you and distracts you from your goals, and sometimes that means walking away from opportunities.  People will call you all sorts of things to break your spirits when they decide they don’t like you, but when you realize you have no respect for those people, their comments have zero affect on you.  You let go of those that are being dead weight to your progress, who go against your values and morals, and misrepresent the brand you worked very hard to build up from the ground up. You put your foot down and you stand your ground.  


You let your actions speak for themselves.  When you keep pushing forward in the face of adversary you become unstoppable. It doesn’t matter if you get a bad review or someone calls you a name on social media.  Your sense of self and accomplishment cannot be broken if you won’t let it.  


When you’ve worked hard to establish yourself as authentic, trustworthy and hold yourself to a high standard, you don’t let others try and tear you down.  Being mentally strong to protect your integrity takes practice and can be uncomfortable in certain situations.  Being able to walk with your head high, self respect in tact is far more valuable than being liked by a crowd of people who would throw you to the wolves. 




If I never took that leap, I never would have known what I was really capable of.  My success to some might seem minuscule, but to me it was wildly successful because I had the chance to do it all my own way.  I had an idea, I went for it, and I brought it to life.  I am proud of all that I accomplished during that era and I would have never known if I could do it if I didn’t take the risk.  


Even if I failed miserably, it’s still better than never knowing.  I know I would sit there always wondering “how it could have been if only…”.  I don’t like to live in “if only”.  I want to actually know, so I go out and get it.  The only way to know if something is truly for you is to go out and experience it.  You don’t need to be driven by a passion, just a burning curiosity and it’s in that curiosity that you will find your passion.  


All this came as somewhat hard lessons to learn but they are invaluable and shaped the way I conduct my business.


I have zero regrets.