There is no universality to the results produced in a program.
Every course, seminar, or workshop promises something, whether overtly or subtly. But just because it’s the promise of the program doesn’t mean it’s what you’ll get. Just because students of the programs are giving glowing testimonials and reviews doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get the results they’ve gotten.
There are a whole host of factors seen and unseen (usually unseen). Things like:
- Some were ready to take life by the horns when the course was presented to them
- Some had specialized knowledge, expertise, or financial resources available (that you didn’t have) upon starting the program
- Some had already invested heavily in themselves and their ongoing self-education, to where the new program was like the icing on top of their personal development cake
If the creator of the program blames you for your failures (get out), or if you even find that you turn to self-blame, it’s time to look at the facts with a sobering mind.
Look at the other people who’ve taken the program. Who are they? What have they accomplished? How do they behave? What is their life like?
A blurb accompanied by a picture on a website can create trust and connection. But if you don’t have direct contact with these people, it’s like chasing shadows. You don’t know all the contributing factors to their success.
Which may sound depressing.
But what you get out of a program isn’t wrong. Your discoveries aren’t worthless. The knowledge and skills you’ve gained aren’t without merit.
You got what you got. That’s it.
But there is more available if you do it again. In a new space and time, old concepts and ideas can leap out as if they had never been there before. Of course, they were. But this is the magic of spaced repetition. The program didn’t change. You did. You became something different over time. It’s inevitable. And as you become something different, you see things through new lenses.
You’re getting what you’re getting. Others are getting what they’re getting. And there’s nothing wrong.
But if you feel like you were shortchanged, don’t give up. Keep growing. Keep learning. Something will connect.
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.
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.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned to do a lot of things well.
And that’s not a bad thing. We hear a lot about focus out there, and focus is a great tool for specific situations, but as with all tools, it can be quite overrated in others.
Still, even with all the experience you’ve gained, there are some things you do disproportionately better than others.
If you’ve never sat down to identify what those things are, I would encourage you to reflect.
I would posit that it’s probably in the domains of songwriting, composing, playing an instrument, singing, making beats, producing music, or something related to these disciplines, but I have been known to be wrong at times.
If you could spend more time doing whatever it is that you do best, you’d enjoy yourself more, and chances are, you’d produce better results in your career too.
Oftentimes, life doesn’t just bow to our will and deliver our order on a silver platter though, does it? And what I mean by that is that you’ve got your genius zone, the thing you do disproportionately better than just about anything else, and realistically, there’s only so much time or effort you can dedicate to it. For most people, evenings and weekends are all they get, and that’s if they’re lucky.
So, sometimes, we need to bend reality to our will.
This guide? Not a possibility unless I insisted on writing every Monday. The only reason it gets done is because I prioritize it. If I let the urgent take over, I wouldn’t make progress.
And that’s what I mean by “bending reality to your will.” Reality dictates that you’ve got to go to work, and you’ve got bills to pay. Reality dictates that your work probably takes up the biggest part of your day and requires most of your expendable energy.
But at the risk of sounding callous, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. So, if we want to progress in areas that matter to us, sometimes we will need to insist on it.
“In an ideal world…”
Finish that sentence.
In an ideal world, you would have a band and a team, and your band members would be handling things you’re not good at and don’t enjoy, while your team works around the clock to book gigs, arrange logistics, and negotiate deals on your behalf.
I’ve lived in “in an ideal world…” thinking for a long time, and the thing is, life just keeps happening. I just keep wishing, hoping, and praying for the day all circumstances and conditions are perfect. It never happens.
Bend reality to your will. Make time for what matters. Do work in your genius zone because you want to, because you love to, because you can’t imagine doing anything else (not because you must, you’re obligated to, or because it’s a duty). Keep following your own path. And if your head and heart are in alignment, you will eventually live in that “ideal” world. But don’t wait for it to show up. Start creating it, even if it’s just an hour per week.
My coach recently shared with me:
“You can have everything you want. You just need to put structures in place to get to where you want to go.”
And that really got me thinking…
I have structures in place for a lot of things I do, including the very guide you’re reading right now.
And then there are things that I don’t have structures for. Or, if I do have structures for them, but they’re not fully developed, or they’re too ambitious, or they’re not ambitious enough, or some combination thereof.
Obviously, there are limits to how much one person can do. But in a crisis situation, sometimes we are required to do considerably more than we ever thought we’d need to do.
What if one day you woke up to find you lost your primary source of income? This happened to me recently. And things like this can happen at any time.
What structures do you have in place for worst case scenarios?
Or, if you don’t have structures yet, what structures could you put in place?
Asking these questions helps us identify next actions. Working backwards from the result we want; we can determine the steps we’ll need to take to get there.
Things either don’t get done, or don’t get done efficiently when we aren’t present to the steps. We end up prolonging the journey unnecessarily or going down some rabbit trail that leads us far away from the path we originally wanted to be on.
“Ready, fire, aim” has its place. But when it comes to structures, it’s all about planning. So, plan your steps (daily or weekly actions). These steps form your structures.
And all steps should really be a hard “yes” or a hard “no.”
“Yes, these things are worth doing (because they get results).”
“No, these things aren’t worth doing (because they don’t get results).”
Put rules in place. These rules are also part of your structures.
You can have everything you want in life. You just need structures to make it a reality.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.