Get Music Career Advice from Someone Who’s Outrageously Successful

Get Music Career Advice from Someone Who’s Outrageously Successful

As a blanket piece of advice, this works, and I would even say it’s mostly correct.

But so far as I – and any other professional coaches – are concerned, it’s missing some important nuances.

When hunting for good music career advice, you’d need to keep the following in mind too:

The Best Musician Coaches Aren’t Necessarily the Best Musicians

You don’t just want to look at how successful a coach is in music, because they may be more successful at coaching than in music.

A great musician isn’t necessarily going to make for a great coach, and a great coach isn’t necessarily going to make for a great musician. Occasionally, you will find someone who is skilled and accomplished in both areas, but they are rare.

Being successful in music is a lot of pressure to put on a coach, given that if they are any good, they are probably busy coaching and don’t have hours of spare time to invest in their music career.

Just for reference:

  • I am a four-time award winning, one-time nominated composer
  • My music has been featured on The Antidote and CCM Magazine
  • I have performed over 300 shows across western Canada
  • I have been teaching guitar since 2001

These accomplishments took something on my part. But they are nowhere near as impressive as my credentials as a coach.

The Best Coaches Listen & Ask Questions

Sure, us musician coaches share some of our best tips in blog posts, podcast episodes, and YouTube videos too. How else are we supposed to get traffic? But dispensing advice is not the true function of a coach.

The best coaches, once hired, don’t just come at you with a list of things to do. First and foremost, they are great listeners. Secondly, they ask questions that bring clarity to your situation.

If they come up with a list of tasks or a plan, it’s because the student requested it. So far as a coach is concerned, this is never step #1. Step #1 is either listening and asking questions, providing a self-assessment tool, or both.

If a coach isn’t starting there, then either their method is unconventional, or they’re not a great coach. Because if they’re not listening and asking questions, they don’t understand your problem. And without understanding your problem, how are they going to solve it?

The Best Coaches May Not be the Best Known

I was recently chatting with Diane Foy, and I tend to agree with her, that the most prominent musician coaches aren’t the best. In fact, good musician coaches may appear a commodity, but they are very hard to find!

Remember what I said earlier – the best coach may be too busy coaching and earning their stripes as a coach to be able to promote themselves. If a coach is prominently appearing in search, social media, and ads, it’s likely that they have investor help, are bankrolled, or are self-funding to the extreme.

I can’t say I know anyone professional who does this for the money – they do it for the love of music and musicians! But there are shills and charlatans out there to be sure, so user beware.

The Outrageously Successful Aren’t Always Dishing Out Advice

It’s funny how people say, “find the best person in your niche and ask them for advice.”

It works until it doesn’t. I’m not saying Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, or Tiger Woods aren’t giving back. But Jordan’s best apprentice, arguably, was Kobe Bryant, and he was a competitor, playing in the same professional capacity Jordan was. If he wasn’t in the NBA, do you think he would have received any kind of direction or mentorship?

Unless you’re on the same label as Miley Cyrus, I don’t know how you expect to learn from her, and even then, she probably doesn’t have time for you unless you’re collaborating on a song.

Ever notice how the “best” aren’t available for comment? Most of them aren’t just freely dishing out advice on Clubhouse or Instagram like it was NFT “knowledge.” They’re busy doing instead of talking about what they’re doing.

If you’re looking for the best coaches on social media alone, you’re just skimming the surface of self-funding types we talked about earlier.

Final Thoughts

You’ve got to be discerning in choosing your coach, of that there’s no doubt. But if you think the best musicians make for the best coaches, oh how wrong you are. Teaching is a skill and a talent, and not everyone has been blessed with those capacities. Everyone can become a better teacher, but not everyone is a natural, or even has proven results!

You can look for people who are outrageously successful (or appear to be so), but they aren’t guaranteed to be the best coach, and unless you’re also considering the above, you could end up being exploited by disingenuous providers.

What You Should Look for in a Musician Coach

What You Should Look for in a Musician Coach

So, you’ve decided that hiring a musician coach wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

But what sort of qualities and qualifications should you look for in a musician coach?

If you know the following, it’s going to make the decision a lot easier.

So, ask yourself these questions when considering a musician coach:

Do They Ask Good Questions?

It may seem innocuous, but this is the most critical question you can ask.

A coach knows how to get out of their own way, listen attentively, and ask questions that change the way you see the world around you.

They will ask the questions you’re not asking, and by doing so, make you aware of blind spots, new perspectives, possibilities, opportunities, next steps, and more.

If your coach is doing all the talking, there’s something wrong. If they’re not asking questions, there’s something wrong. If they’re merely telling you what to do next, they still have much to learn.

A seasoned coach has had to generate results in situations where it was difficult if not impossible to do so. And they got there by asking powerful questions.

At the foundation of coaching is the ability to ask good questions.

Do They Have a Coach of Their Own?

The best coaches always have coaches of their own.

And if they don’t have a coach right this minute, they’re at least on a steady path of personal growth – reading articles and books, listening to podcasts, watching videos, taking courses, and generally investing in themselves and their knowledge.

If a coach doesn’t show any interest in self-development, they’re not going to make for a good coach.

Look for signs that they’re committed to being lifelong learners.

Do They Have a Website?

While creator economy apps like Koji are near omnipotent in their capabilities, the potential downside is that anyone can set up a free account, buy followers, and claim to be an expert on a topic.

A true coach might have a link in bio, but they wouldn’t balk at investing in the creation of their own regularly updated website. In fact, they would prioritize it.

Whether it’s domain names, web hosting, logo design, videos, blog posts, or otherwise, they’re not afraid to set forth the financial resources and time necessary to develop their brand.

A coach that’s invested in their online presence treats their job with a degree of seriousness others simply do not.

Do They Have a Book?

A book isn’t necessarily a requirement, but it does say something about a coach, namely that they’ve gone to the trouble of documenting their best tips and advice in written form.

Writing a book is a commitment. It’s at least 10 times the length of any term paper you’ve written in college.

A coach with a book better understands the dedication, discipline, and commitment required to make an album, because writing a book is just as extensive if not more so.

The other reason a book is valuable is because you can learn about the coach’s methodologies before even hiring them. At 20 bucks a pop, you really have nothing to lose.

Plus, if you take the time to read, you’ll be more committed to the process and get more out of the coaching. You’ll make for a better client, and that improves the coach-mentee relationship!

Do They Have Systems?

Sure, there are times when a coach needs to throw away the scripts, ditch the templates, abandon their methodologies, and get in the dirt with their clients.

We’re all human, after all!

But if a coach doesn’t at least have a battery of questions they use to better understand your circumstances and guide your next steps, are they honestly any better than an unpracticed bassist that “wings it” at a gig?

Coaches should have systems – be it video conferencing software (Zoom, Google Meet, or otherwise), PDF document templates, notes on their clients (along with a filing system), or otherwise.

You don’t want to be shooting from the hip as a client, and a coach shouldn’t be either! If they’re coaching you, they should be in the right environment with the right resources and processes to serve you to the best of their abilities.

Do They Have Demonstrated Results?

I need to say something that’s a little paradoxical here, but it is important.

A coach doesn’t necessarily have everything you want in life.

After all, they specialize in coaching, not in being a successful artist (that’s your job!).

They may have demonstrated results in their own career. It never hurts.

But what we’re talking about here is demonstrated results in the careers of others.

A coach needs to be able to help her clients first and foremost. If she can’t do that, it doesn’t matter what results she has in another area!

A coach always leaves his clients in a better position than where they started. Look for evidence of that.

Do They Have Quotes / Testimonials from Past Clients?

Quotes, testimonials, and reviews are always worth checking, and this goes hand in hand with demonstrated results.

There’s one major thing you should be aware of concerning social proof, though:

First is that even if a coach doesn’t have many reviews, it’s not necessarily a bad sign.

Ask yourself how many times you’ve left reviews on Amazon, Google, iTunes, or otherwise.

Unless it was a mind-blowingly amazing or mind numbingly horrendous experience, you probably aren’t compelled to leave a lot of reviews in the first place.

The point is – people don’t just hand out reviews like they’re candy, and even superb coaches don’t always have drawers full of references.

The other thing that’s good to be aware of is that reviews can and have been manufactured.

It sucks that I even need to bring it up, but some “coaches” out there claim to have taught fictional superheroes according to their website. Sorry, just no.

Obviously, the reviews you find on a coach’s website are going to be talking up the coach. No competent coach is going to use negative reviews on their site.

But complete fabrications are worth looking out for.

Final Thoughts

There are other questions you can ask to determine whether a coach is right for you, but the above should serve as an excellent starting point.

If they have a 15-minute free consultation or something of that nature, you could take advantage of that…

Or you could email or call them for more info as needed.

But don’t overthink it and let yourself get off the hook without deciding, that is, unless you want to go back to the rut, you’re trying to crawl your way out of.

Sprinting a Marathon

Sprinting a Marathon

Prioritize. Make a list, and only do the things you need to do and focus on them.

Upon entering the yearlong leadership program I’m now nine months into, I felt tired and exhausted. And I felt like I had far too much to do to be able to keep up with all the calls and meetings I was adding to my schedule.

When I shared this with one of my coaches, he said the above.

There are times when it’s necessary to pull back. As I was just getting started in the leadership program, my head was spinning, and I needed to pull back a little. Capture a bird’s eye view of tasks that were the key difference makers.

Right now, I need to pull back again, at least for a bit. I’ve been sprinting for too long for this to be a marathon, and marathons are not won sprinting.

Marathons are not won sprinting. Click To Tweet

I’m glad this lesson stuck with me. Because it helps me identify the key tasks that need to be done without taking on all the extra work that could overwhelm my life.

Chances are, even if I am missed on Instagram, Tealfeed, or BitClout, anyone missing me will be that much happier when I’m back.

Priority wise, my health and well-being are far more important. Keeping up with clients is next. Then comes all the other projects I’m working on.

Time away from some of this activity can only help me. It gives me space to think and reflect and to return to my work better. I can strategize and streamline. And this feels like the right time to do exactly that.

You Can be Complete with Anything

You Can be Complete with Anything

If you had told me this just four years ago, I’m not sure that I would have believed you.

But I was on a coaching call today, and while my projects have been progressing nicely, I had a lingering sense of sadness that was coming from stories I’d been telling myself.

Stories about time. Stories about being a certain age. Stories about not having accomplished what I’d set out to by this point.

What my coach told me was I was in full control, and I could choose at any time to declare the sadness complete. So, I did exactly that. I said:

“I declare my sadness complete.”

And what happened next surprised even me.

My heart opened wide, and tears began to well up in my eyes.

I’d felt a sense of freedom I hadn’t felt in a while.

I didn’t know I could become complete with anything that easily or quickly. I’d always thought it would take more digging.

And yes, sometimes getting complete with something will take some digging. But not always. Sometimes, it’s real enough for you in the moment that you can clearly see the story you’ve been perpetuating and the impact it’s had. When the impact is real, letting go becomes a must rather than an option.

You can be complete with anything. You don’t need to drag that baggage into every relationship or situation. It can be complete the moment you declare it complete. You don’t need to carry it with you. It’s not a sentence.

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