Almost any music artist looking to make a living as a professional musician has faced setbacks along the way. Certainly the specifics vary by artist, but the struggles are common and create a common and unique bond among many musicians. So sometimes it’s great to hear stories from artists who have made it despite worries earlier in their careers that they never would. These stories are particularly relevant — or at least inspiring — when they come with some advice as to how to overcome any obstacles.
British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has now won five Brit awards and gone on a massive worldwide tour opening for Taylor Swift. But in a recent interview with the Irish Independent, Sheeran tells of how he had to endure seeing his audience sizes shrink rather than grow in the early days, and doubting his decision to pursue music at all.
“I felt every gig I played, fewer and fewer people would attend and this was going nowhere,” he told the newspaper. “Every single label I had gone to at the time had told me this song wasn’t a hit, this song wouldn’t work, and the fact that I was slightly chubby and ginger wasn’t a good ‘marketing tool’ for them. So yeah it did definitely feel like it wasn’t going to happen.”
However, he says he overcame this doubt and rejection by realizing that music was the only thing he wanted to do, and that it was his individuality that made him stand out from the crowd.
“It’s like if you want something so badly go out there and grab, just keep on doing it – because there are people out there who do want it just as much as you do and there are people out there if given the opportunity to take my place will, so it’s just as important to keep pushing yourself and working at it.”
Sure, the advice is a little cliche, but that’s just because it is true. If you’re not trying your hardest to get noticed — not only by record labels but also by fans — there will always be somebody working harder than you.
But working smart is just as important as working hard, and knowing where to focus your efforts is extremely important, as well. We’ve written fairly extensively about ways to help market yourself and get the attention of record labels, as well as some information for young artists. We want to use this space to present that information in one place, and hope you can find some tips that can work for your career.