How to become a successful musician: the 5 keys to guaranteed success

Keys to musical success“It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n’ roll.”

AC/DC said that — but interestingly enough, they took a somewhat shorter road to the summits of hard rock glory by combining a couple of the proven methods I mention below.

Do you want to be a musical success? Of course you do. And luckily, it’s simpler than you think. Just…

1. Be the son or daughter of someone famous

The best way to become famous, especially if you’re not as talented as other people in your genre, is to have famous parents. Get some! And then leverage the family name and your genetic similarities to “be your own person.”

If you can’t find any famous parents, an alternate route to musical success is to work hard and become a famous actor; then branch out into your music career.

2. Have wealthy parents who don’t care if you ever get a “real job”

“Thought leaders” always preach about how failure is a necessary component of success. Well now you can fail without consequence, again and again and again. There’s nothing like an endless safety net to bring out your inner daredevil.

By removing all financial concerns, you can devote 100% of your energy to music. You can also bankroll your band’s recordings, videos, marketing, touring, and more. Moral of the story: if you can’t find famous parents, find rich ones.

3. Join a popular band

There are plenty of successful bands already. Why not bypass all that hard work and join a band that’s already “arrived?”

With you in the group, they’ll be able to take things to a whole new commercial and artistic level.

4. Be the first group with major label ties to jump on a new trend

To forge major label ties, see tips #1, 2, or 3. The rest is easy. Just read all the hip music blogs everyday to keep abreast of what’s bubbling up from the underground. Then, be ready to pounce!

5. Pay for 10 million views on YouTube

Actually, 10 million isn’t a whole lot these days; you’re competing with the likes of Psy and the Biebs. Better pay for at least 50 million views.

If your video wasn’t going viral on its own, this sudden spike in views will  ensure that everyone sees it now — on Facebook, on cable TV entertainment shows, and on the homepage of YouTube.


OK, reality check: there are NO keys out there to guarantee your musical success. Even if one of the above suggestions describes you, you’re working with advantages, not guarantees.

But here are some actual, practical suggestions that might increase your chances of musical success:

* Write great songs

* Practice, practice, practice

* Put on an unforgettable live show

* Produce recordings that do justice to your songs and performances

* Create music videos that are worth sharing

* Spend a lot of your marketing energy on building your email list

* Make your fans feel included and appreciated

* License your music for use in TV, film, games, and more

* Tour whenever possible (regionally at first, then build from there)

* Maintain an engaging online presence, beginning with your own website

* Make sure your music is available globally through all the popular download and streaming services

* Sell your CDs and vinyl on and in over 15,000 record stores around the world

* Offer creative merch at your live shows

* Use every album release, tour, or video launch as a way of connecting with the media

* Set yourself up to collect money from the usage of your music in ever possible way (sales, publishing, sync fees, YouTube ad revenue, etc.)

* Attend industry conferences and trade-shows to make connections with other bands, managers, promoters, DJs, etc.

* Promote your music to college, community, and internet radio (and podcasts)

* Have clear band agreements from the start, so every member is on the same page about royalties, trademark ownership, copyright splits, individual expectations, etc.


Obviously success in the music business requires a lot of hard work and careful attention not only to your music, but to multiple aspects of your music career.

This list is just for starters. Got any suggestions to add? What do you think is a crucial component of musical success? Let me know in the comments section below.

Free Updates: Become a 
Smarter Musician

[Keys image from Shutterstock.]

Join the Conversation