I’m no expert, but some of you have been asking for advice in navigating this strange world called the music industry. Here’s some tidbits to ponder, based on my own personal journey.

1. Identify your goals. What motivates you in your creative endeavors? Are your striving to be a top notch lead guitarist? A songwriter of note? A compelling live performer? Or are your main concerns based on popularity and profits? Once I realized how limited my time and creative energy can be, identifying a focus has helped keep me on the right path towards accomplishing my goals. Don’t waste your time aimlessly wandering. You will never get to your destination for lack of knowing where it lies.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are unique, and you define your own success. Look for marked progress, no matter how small, and let that propel you forward. This one was HUGE for me, and when I was able to move past it I gained a newfound self confidence that manifested itself positively in my art.

3. Not everyone will like your music, and that’s okay. Identify your core audience- that small group of people who would likely be interested in the type of music you’re doing. Focus your self promotion efforts on connecting with those people, and don’t be upset when your metalhead neighbor never comes to your shows (unless you’re in a metal band).

4. Negative feedback is just as important as positive feedback. Have a thick skin, but realize that negative feedback and rejection don’t come from thin air. Pay attention, make changes, and pick yourself back up. The worst thing you can do is brush criticism under the rug.

5. There’s no easy ride. Musicians are some of the hardest working people I know, and if you want even a sliver of success without working for it, then you will be sorely disappointed.

6. Take yourself seriously if you want others to take you seriously. A little professionalism goes a long way. That goes for your promo photos online, as well as the music you release. Invest in making it not only sound good, but look good as well. Find friends who have a knack for the visual side of things that can help you out, or at least offer some guidance. At the same time, don’t take yourself too seriously. Things will rarely go how you want them to, so learn to take a step back and find some humor in the situation, and never ever hold a grudge.

7. Have fun! If you’re not having fun, what makes you think anyone else is? Playing music on any level can be very rewarding. Keep at it as long as you’re having fun.