Finding your true north

In our first blog, we talked about how important it is to have a target. Once you've decided on that target, you'll need to set a course to get you there. Think of your career as a long trip to the destination of your choice. That trip starts when the pilot enters your destination into his navigation system. It's going to be a long trip so you'll probably have to make some stops along the way to refuel, to stretch your legs and get some food. When you're flying at 35,000 feet, that pilot will be able to look out the window and see for miles in every direction.

Other times, that pilot won't be able to see the destination at all. Maybe he's in the clouds or a thunderstorm or there's fog and his view is impaired. So he'll need to trust that his navigation system will lead him to his destination. Like that pilot, you'll need to figure out where you're starting from and where you want to go and set a course to get you there. Like that pilot, you'll need to have a navigation system to guide you as well.

Think of true north as your guidance system in the music business. There will be some stops along the way in the music industry, for sure. Some will be planned and some won't. You'll likely miss some connections along the way. There'll be no shortage of folks offering you advice on what to do, how to dress, how to write better songs, who you should work with and who you shouldn't. You'll have all kinds of forces and competing agendas pulling on you. Record label politics, radio politics, band politics, finances and more.

In the music business, the right answers are not always clear in the moment. You'll need to make decisions before you actually see your landing strip. You'll need to trust your true north just like that pilot trusted his instruments. If you don't have a clear sense of who you are, you'll be pulled off course frequently. You may never know how close you are to doing something big in the music business. If you're an artist, the great artists, they write what they feel.

The great artists are typically ahead of the curve and they don't chase trends they set the trends. If your writing music that is well out of the mainstream but that's who you are, then you'll accept that. True north is all about conviction. If you don't believe in your journey, you don't believe in the destination and trust, it's going to be difficult to get others to believe it. Your true north might not be obvious at first. It takes time for some artists to find themselves. Sometimes, they have to try some things and fail along the way.

But they don't let failure stop them, they learn, they get smarter and they move on. That process helps you focus your true north. When you set your target you identified your destination. You set your course, you followed you navigation and arrive. So what do you do next? You pick a new destination, you start all over again. I set out on a trip 36 years ago to do something big in this music business and it turns out that my trip has had a number of different destinations.

First as a concert promoter, then as a label exec, then as internet entrepreneur, and for the last 17 years as a manager. And now, here I am again when a new destination. To share what I've learned on those previous trips with folks like yourselves that are just starting on your own music business journey. Success in the music business really is like going on a long trip. Unlike that plane ride we talked about where you'll get to your destination 99.9% of the time, your trip in the music business may not get you where you want to go.

If you march in a single direction, ultimately you'll get somewhere. If you're changing course over and over you may find that you spend a ton of time and energy going around in circles and never get where you want to go. But if you are going to get there, you'll need to figure out where you're starting from. You'll need to pick a destination, you'll need to set a course and trust your true north to guide you along the way. And while you're out there, don't forget to enjoy the ride.