5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Making Music

In episode #338 of the DIY Musician Podcast, we dive deep into the lessons we wish we had known when we first set foot on our musical paths. From debunking the notion of coolness to embracing the power of authenticity, from the importance of cultivating a dedicated fanbase to navigating ever-shifting trends, we offer insight into the most meaningful lessons we learned on and off stage. 

1. You Will Never Be Cool Enough: Embrace Your Own Unique Path

 “The Pitchfork problem, where you see all these bands getting lauded by critics but can’t pay rent. Meanwhile, Nickelback can fill venues in every city. Joke’s on who?” – Chris Robley

Seeking validation from external sources or chasing trends is a futile pursuit. Embrace your own creative path and stay true to your artistic vision. Being cool by someone else’s decree is the opposite of empowerment. Power shifts, trends change, but your unique voice and perspective are what will make you stand out.

2. No Fanbase Is Too Small: Cherish Every Connection 

“Everyone starts somewhere. Every fan matters, no matter the size of your fanbase. Treat them like the stars they are because, in reality, they’re all you’ve got.” – Cristina Cano

We’ve all started from humble beginnings, and it’s essential to treat every fan with appreciation and respect. Each person who supports your music contributes to your journey. Nurture those relationships and build a strong and loyal community around your art. Remember, it’s the genuine connections that make all the difference.

3. Time Speeds Up: Don’t Rush, But Don’t Wait 

As we age, our perspective on the passage of time shifts. It’s important to strike a balance between rushing your ideas and growing apathetic. Take the necessary time to refine your work and ensure it aligns with your artistic vision. Embrace the creative process and allow your ideas to evolve naturally. However, don’t fall into the trap of waiting for “perfection.” Take action and seize the right opportunities along your way. Say no to the wrong opportunities. 

4. Shifting Priorities Can Deepen Your Art

“Parenthood, adulting, career-ing, caring for elders… all these things can deepen your art rather than rob it.” – Chris Robley

Life’s responsibilities can bring new dimensions to your art. Embrace these shifts and view them as opportunities for growth and greater insight. Be an “optimizer” and make the most of the time, resources, and relationships available to you. Your art will evolve and become richer with these added dimensions. 

5. The Key to Fulfillment: Gratitude and Effective Communication 

Practicing gratitude and effective communication is crucial in the music industry. Express appreciation to those who support and collaborate with you. Avoid being passive-aggressive, entitled, or afraid of vulnerability. Communicate both the challenges and triumphs you experience along the way. This open and honest approach fosters meaningful connections and builds a supportive network.

BONUS THOUGHT: Treat Everyone with Respect: You Never Know Who Holds the Power 

“You never know who might be in charge one day. Treat everybody with respect.” – Cristina Cano

Respecting everyone you encounter, from fellow musicians to industry professionals and fans, is vital. Building positive relationships and maintaining a professional reputation can open doors and create valuable connections. Treat everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of their status. You never know who might play a significant role in your musical journey.