What is the difference between an amateur musician and a professional musician?
If we assume that both artists make good music, what are the other factors that determine the success or failure of a musical career?
Actually, we could spend hours discussing all the different internal and external criteria that can influence an artist’s success and therefore his professionalization.
But in this article we will first of all come back to the state of mind and the good habits to adopt in order to behave like a true professional musician.
“Fake it till you make it“, as they say..
1. Arriving on time
We start with something that may seem obvious to many, but is totally neglected by some amateur musicians.
It is not just a question of punctuality. It is all about keeping your commitments.
If you are scheduled to meet to do the scales, a rehearsal’ or to meet a label, be on time and if possible in advance.
We expect you to have an irreproachable attitude: respect, politeness, seriousness and honesty. Otherwise it will automatically impact your bad reputation.
2. Constantly promote
As an artist, the professional musician is a public figure.
No matter how many fans he has or how far his project has progressed, his audience wants more than anything to share his universe.
Thus, the professional musician understands this and communicates regularly, even outside album launches and tours in order to maintain the link with fans and federate new ones.
For example, he can do a cover on YouTube, share ideas from the photos of the last rehearsal on Instagram or tell a story on Facebook.
The difference with the amateur musician is that this promotion is constant and thoughtful.
3. Set objectives and priorities
The professional musician knows what he wants and how to get there.
The professional musician has a clear vision of things and knows the actions to be performed or the people to meet to move to the next level.
This makes it much easier to gain productivity and clarity when you think in advance about where you want to go.
Lay out your objectives for the month and start working on them. If you have too much to do, consider eliminating tasks, delegating them or reviewing your priorities.
No matter what the promotion and marketing, nothing has more value for your artistic project than your music itself.
If your music is not up to the task, you can’t go any further.
For the professional musician, it is therefore a daily priority to train individually and rehearse with other musicians.
As such, you should dedicate your free time first to the practice of music, and then to the rest of your musical activities.
5. Network and surround yourself well
It is impossible to build a career alone in your area.
Meet the artists in your city, get press coverage, expand your network and above all build a determined team around your project.
This applies to both members of your group and professionals who are expected to help you in your career.
Amateur musicians accept mediocrity, while professional musicians demand the best.
Surround yourself with serious people who are in line with your ambitions.
6. Continue to train
A common thread among professionals in all sectors is this willingness (or even need) to continue to learn, improve and train.
For a professional musician, it is not necessarily a question of the technical aspect.
A punk rock guitarist doesn’t necessarily need to be able to get out of the solos like Steve Vai.
But it is always possible to improve your game (endurance, precision, etc.), your understanding of the music industry, your compositions or your music marketing.
7. Take care of your creations and investments
As an entrepreneur (or musicpreneur), the professional musician understands the importance of his investments.
First of all, it may be a monetary investment, for example in the form of the equipment used.
If you arrive in concert with a first-rate guitar, worn strings and a 15-watt amp, you may feel like an amateur.
Invest in and take care of quality equipment (maintenance, transport, insurance, etc.).
The same goes for your creations, the fruit of the time and effort you have invested.
It is the professional musician’s duty to protect his albums and songs in order to be legally recognized as an artist composer.
8. Improve your stage presence
The scene is impartial. If once in front of your audience you are not up to the task, they will quickly realize that you are unprofessional.
It may be anxiety, shyness or annoying the audience. It is not enough to play your songs in front of an audience to create a memorable concert.
A successful pro concert is prepared well in advance to provide an unforgettable and unique experience for its fans.
The professional artists have understood this and are putting on coherent and strong shows. At your scale, nothing prevents you from adding surprises or originalities to surprise your audience.
For that, do not hesitate to film your live performances in order to be able to take a step back and see what needs to be improved.
9. Discover and seize income-generating opportunities
The fact is that amateur musicians spend a lot of time composing, playing and even recording songs that will never really help them financially.
Once the first ep or album is released, the band or amateur musician is then caught up in reality by realizing that no one is buying or listening to it.
However, this frustration pushes most of these budding artists to redirect themselves towards something more lucrative, aka a job.
On the other hand, professional musicians do not put all the eggs in one bag and know full well that there are dozens of ways to make money with their music and enjoy these different sources of income.
Of course, this may require taking the entrepreneur’s cap more often than the artist’s cap.
But in the end, if it allows you to live off your passion in the long term, isn’t that justified?
10. Taking action
While the professional musician takes new steps, the amateur musician waits.
What is he waiting for? He’s waiting for a miracle. In the form of state support, a springboard, a television show, a social network for musicians, a contract with a label, etc.
However, it is by taking the decision to act today that in six months or a year you will be able to see the miracle that YOU have achieved.
The pro artist doesn’t expect us to do things for him. He acts, learns from his mistakes and starts again.
Every year millions of musicians around the world seek to professionalize themselves in order to live off their music.
Unfortunately, this is not given to everyone and the vast majority fails.
By adopting the 10 habits I mentioned in this article, you are one step ahead of all other amateur musicians, and even some “professional” musicians.
It is up to you to put all this in place and make the right decisions.