The music industry is renowned for its colourful quirks, and with that comes a plethora of advice, both helpful and, well, not so much. In this somewhat cynical article, we’ll explore some of the most unhelpful industry advice that artists often encounter. While well-intentioned, these dubious pieces of wisdom can sometimes leave musicians scratching their heads, frustrated, and no better off than they were before.

1. “You should get an agent.”

Sure, artists dream of having a great agent who will book them for lots of high profile, well-paying gigs, but this advice is like telling someone lost in the woods, “You should find a map.” It’s a great idea, and one that an artist with any sense would already have thoroughly considered. Thanks chump.

2. “You can sleep when you’re dead.”

Ah, yes, the timeless advice that sleep is for the weak. While burning the candle at both ends might work for a night or two, you simply can’t sustain a music career on no sleep. In fact, it’s more likely you’ll find yourself on the fast track to becoming a member of the “walking zombie” genre. Bad advice. Steer clear, or you may find yourself in fact, dead, much sooner than anticipated.

3. “Just go viral.”

Brilliant! Why didn’t we think of that? If only it were as easy as flipping a “go viral” switch. In reality, viral success often involves a mix of timing, luck, and a dash of magic that’s as elusive as a unicorn playing the guitar. Not to mention the fact that you will need to know how to best leverage the virality for more sustainable outcomes.

4. “Don’t worry about the money; just play for exposure.”

Playing for exposure is fantastic, but it won’t pay the rent or buy a decent microphone. While exposure is essential for growing your fanbase, it’s equally crucial to strike a balance between pursuing your artistic dreams and ensuring financial stability. After all, even rock stars need to eat. Sidenote – watch for this advice coming from venue promoters who are looking for free entertainment.

5. “Just be yourself.”

Being yourself is great advice, but it’s often delivered without a roadmap for artists trying to figure out who “they” really are in a world filled with genres, personas, and creative exploration. It’s like saying, “Just find your way in this giant maze.” Developing a strong artistic brand will take time, resources and strategy. Besides, it’s probably best to keep your closet geeky hobbies contained to the closet. At least for the purpose of promoting your music career.

6. “Don’t listen to critics.”

While it’s essential not to let criticism crush your spirit, it’s equally important to listen to constructive feedback. Dismissing all criticism can lead to creative stagnation. It’s like saying, “Don’t check the weather forecast; just wear shorts every day.” It’s hard to be objective about your own material sometimes. Ever considered that the critics may actually have some valuable points if you’re willing to give them some credence?

7. “It’s all about who you know.”

Networking is crucial, but this advice sometimes feels like telling someone to win a marathon without training: “Just know the right people, and you’ll cross the finish line!” Building meaningful connections takes time and effort, and no great connection in their right mind would offer opportunities to someone based on affiliation alone. 

8. “Quit your day job.”

While pursuing music full-time is a dream for many, quitting your day job without a solid plan can lead to struggletown. It’s like advising someone to jump out of an aeroplane without a parachute and hope for the best. On the flipside, when things are starting to take off and you feel you’re ready to give your music career an honest crack, pay no heed to the naysayers who tell you not to quit your day job. 

While these ‘pearls of wisdom’ may induce a chuckle, they also underscore the importance of seeking practical advice that aligns with your unique musical journey. While navigating the music industry’s twists and turns, you’ll no doubt find a sense of humour to be an essential asset, and the best advice should combine passion, perseverance and practical tips mixed with a healthy dose of reality.

Ready to embark on your musical adventure armed with practical advice? Seek guidance from experienced mentors, network strategically, and find your own path to success—one that suits both your artistic aspirations and the need for a good night’s sleep.

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