Do you ever feel like just giving up music and throwing in the towel? Do you ever feel like it’s just too hard and wonder what the point is? If you’re at all like me, you’ve probably had thoughts like this go through your head from time to time. The music business is hard. Trying to navigate your way through the business can be daunting and frustrating. I’m sure most musicians have entertained the idea of just giving it up and moving onto something more “realistic” and easier.
Sometimes giving up might be the right thing to do. Music isn’t for everyone and obviously not everyone who entertains the idea of becoming a professional musician will become one. During this post I want to explore the idea of how to know whether or not going forward in the music industry, or with music in general, is the right thing to do.
Sometimes quitting things and moving on to something else is a wise decision. Life is full of trying things out, gaining new experiences, and then making life decisions based on experience and maturity. There’s no sense in pursuing something that brings more frustration than joy and conversely, it’s not wise to quit something you love just because you experience the occasional setback or frustration. The challenge is really knowing the difference.
Here’s an analogy:
I have a girlfriend. I love her. Sometimes we have conflicts. Sometimes I get frustrated when things aren’t going smoothly. But the relationship brings me more joy than it does frustration. The majority of the time I’m very happy and have no desire to be with anyone else. I value our relationship and what we have, so I am more than willing to work to resolve any conflicts that come up My girlfriend feels the same way and so normally when we have issues, we resolve them fairly quickly and we get back to enjoying all the benefits the relationship brings us.
I like to think of music in the same way. I have a relationship to music and the music I make. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes there are setbacks. Sometimes I don’t feel like going forward. But, at the end of the day, I love making music, and it brings me a lot more joy than it does pain. I believe in it and so I’m willing to put in the work to get better at it. It’s not a hard decision for me. I’m committed to making music.
However, there are other things I’ve tried in the past that I haven’t felt that strongly about. I took art classes a couple years ago for example. I wasn’t that good at it and it didn’t bring me that much joy. I took classes for a couple months and then I quit. It wasn’t a hard decision. It simply wasn’t my thing.
In my twenties, I entertained the idea of becoming a mortgage broker. I was intrigued by the idea of making good money at a young age and I could see the potential for doing well. However I hated the job. I hated the idea of working with numbers all day and cold calling home owners to see if they wanted to refinance their house. It simply wasn’t a good fit for me, so I walked away and never once second guessed my decision.
I’ve also had relationships in the past that I walked away from without any regret. Sometimes people just aren’t compatible and there’s so much friction and tension in the relationship that walking away is the only sensible thing to do. I think career paths are similar. Sometimes we just simply aren’t a good fit for certain professions. We all have unique interests and personalities that lend themselves to different paths.
Pursuing music is a very unique path. It’s not for everyone. It might not be for you. Only you can really decide. Only you know, deep down, if your passion for playing music is greater than your disdain of the setbacks you experience. Only you know whether or not playing music brings you more joy than pain. Just like all relationships have a certain amount of inevitable conflict, most fulfilling career paths have frustration and setback along the way. You could even say that’s part of what makes the journey enjoyable.
There’s something very fulfilling about overcoming obstacles and harnessing the inner strength that you didn’t even know you had, to achieve your goals. Conflict shouldn’t be avoided, but instead embraced. The conflicts we resolve will make us stronger people. But you have to really love what you’re pursuing to find the strength to overcome the obstacles that come along. If you’re just sort of into something, it’s far too easy to just to take the path of least resistance and walk away.
When you truly love something, you’ll fight for it.