You Want To Bring Me In Later? Thanks, But No Thanks.

I hear it again and again. "I really love what you do and I think it would be great. Once we get a little further down the line, I'd love to talk to you again about working together." Would you tell an architect that you "want to go ahead and get the foundation and framing done" and then bring her in? Nope. Because all she's going to do is tell you that you built a crappy foundation and you need to start over. Same with building a career. If you're getting strategy and planning help, get it up front.

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Don't Give Other People Veto Power

It's so easy to unconsciously put yourself in a position where you are reliant on someone else – or worse, a lot of other people – in order to get your project or your career off the ground. Don't do it. Don't. What happens if that person gets fired? Or that project's budget gets cut? Or your champion can't sell it to their boss? The answer is simple: you are screwed.

If you believe you need the sign-off from the head of a major label before you can even get started, you may as well quit now. Hell, buy a Powerball ticket. The odds are similar. You are setting yourself up for a lot of frustration and disappointment. And perhaps even more importantly, you are showing an incredible lack of creativity and determination – two things you will need deep reserves of if you ever hope to make a mark in the music industry.

Don't wait for someone to make it happen for you. Start doing it on your own. Start a Kickstarter project to fund an album. Start your own YouTube channel. MAKE SOMETHING WONDERFUL. Then go and find good outlets and partners for it. Now you actually have something to talk to labels about. And, trust me, that label president is going to love it if you've built it yourself. Even if he gives you a budget and asks you to rebuild it on a larger scale. Why? Because he knows how tough the road ahead is even with a major label behind you. Because he knows they can find great songs for you. And they can get you a stylist and a trainer. But they can't make you do the work. And they can't make you want it so badly that giving up just isn't an option.

So what should you do? Have a plan. And a back-up plan. Actually, have 3 back-up plans. And work the crap out of all of them. Chances are you'll need them. Pursue multiple avenues knowing that most of them won't work out. And that is absolutely fine as long as you don't let it kill your momentum. Or your spirit. You can always scale it up if the opportunity comes along. But if you wait around for someone to tell you it's okay to get started, you're going to be waiting forever. Relying too much on one person or outlet gives them veto power. And the only person who should have that is you.

The New Model Is Not Your Problem

Whether you are in music, art or pretty much any industry, all the magazines and "experts" are talking about the "new model" and how the "old model is dead." Guess what? The old model didn't work that well for most folks anyway. Yes, social media is out there. And there are a million options for websites, PR, distribution, and everything else. The bad news: No one has built the new model yet. Worse news: One model may not be the new model. But here's the good news. Awesome, actually. It's not your problem. Because you don't have to figure out the new model. You just have to figure out YOUR model. The model that gets you and your products in front of your customers and gets them to open their wallets. The one that plays to your strengths and manages against your weaknesses. So maybe that's three social networks, a website and a demo video on YouTube. And maybe it's four events a year and a monthly email newsletter. Or maybe it's a corporate sponsorship and giving your product away. The point is that it doesn't matter what your model is as long as it works for you. Let me repeat that last point: It doesn't matter what your model is as long as it works for you.

And oh yeah, you don't have to get it perfect out of the box. Try some things. And if they don't work, drop them. And if they do work, invest more time, energy and money into them. Keep tweaking. Eventually, you'll find a mix that works for you. Or you'll find out that you don't have a viable business and you need to do something else. Either way, you are one step closer to getting it right.