Are You Stuck?

Let’s try something – – raise your hand if you have goals for your career that you’re not meeting right now.


Look at that. Every single hand went up.

Now, I want you to identify the biggest goal you have – – the one that would change your life in a really positive way.

Got it? Good…

advice for musicians storytellersNow I have a question to ask you – – do you dabble or do you commit?

Think about that for a second, and I’d love your honest answer.

If you can truly say that you commit to figuring it out, and you work consistently at achieving that goal, then chances are you’re going to get there.

(And you can stop reading right here.)

But most of us don’t do that.

For the vast majority of us, we tend to do a little bit here and a little bit there . . .

. . . and then we forget about it for a while . . .

. . . and then we start something else, and do that for a little while . . .

And before we know it, two years have gone by and we’re in the exact same place.

It’s Really Simple

(It’s just not always easy.)

This probably should have been the very first article on the blog (rather than #53!), because it truly is the foundation – the “secret,” even – for progress as an independent artist.

Your attempt to gain new ground is quite unlikely to succeed without that commitment to tackle the issue with a singular focus and make it work through consistent effort.

It’s so obvious, isn’t it?

Of course it is – it’s just not exactly easy, especially for those of us who’ve spent years (or decades!) as dabblers.

Your Action Plan

I don’t know what that big goal of yours is, but you do.

Maybe it’s…

  • to quit your day job and pursue your passion full-time
  • to recover your pre-COVID performing income
  • to start working with schools
  • to book more of a certain kind of gig
  • to sell more recordings
  • to get your live streaming thing together
  • to get your music heard by a wider audience

Whatever it is, commit to doing everything you can to achieve it.

(And forget about all the other shiny objects out there that keep distracting you.)

There are a TON of free resources available online to help you (and right here, I might add), and plenty of paid courses and consultants you can hire if you’re really feeling stuck.

But the point is this – dabbling will not get you to the next place.

(Final bonus motivation: most other artists are dabbling.)

Ready For More?

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About The Blog

The Largest Online Gathering of K-5 Classrooms for Connected Educator MonthSince leaving a white-collar marketing job in 1992, Dave Ruch has been educating and entertaining full-time in schools, historical societies and museums, folk music and concert venues, libraries, and online via distance learning programs.

Along the way, he’s learned a great deal about supporting a family of four as a musician.

The Educate and Entertain blog provides articles, tips, encouragements, and how-to’s for regional performers (in any region) interested in making a great full-time living in the arts.

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13 Responses to Are You Stuck?

  1. Hi Dave,
    As a full-time musician, what have you done as far as a retirement plan? I am happy to be playing and singing into my golden years but I want to also show my wife and family some sense of planning for the future. Any advice or tips on what has worked for you would be most welcome. Thank you,
    -Shane Key

    • Hi Shane – I sock some money away every month for my retirement (IRA) account. If I didn’t build that into my pricing, I’d be screwed!

  2. awesome….I am committed fully. But my audience, which is artists and entertainers in the party entertainment sector are still dabbling, waiting for COVID to end, or taking early retirement. It’s hard to light a fire under them, especially when the payoff is not guaranteed. But, whoever guaranteed payoff in the past sold them a Tall Tale.

    Appreciate your blog, your honesty and often will share your stuff with my followers.

  3. Thank you. Dave Ruch. Your compassionate and passionate information you are giving is so needed. You are calming and amazing proof that there is more than one avenue of musical expression that can lead to becoming a major solo artist on the “big stages -or not. In having a satisfying and happy career as a teaching artist, performer, producer/entrepreneur- this can still take an artist to the “big global stages” as one gets proficient in really running one’s own musical business by using these venues. So glad I came upon you.

  4. As always Dave….you NAILED IT! “Ignoring the other shiny objects” – I liked that one 🙂 Committing (with a capital C) to the vision & then recommitting each day with tangible actions is a way I stay on course. Keeping the journey fun has helped too…making sure I remember WHY I play. Thanks for another great article Dave. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  5. I am a dabbler at my dream….but I’m also a hard working full time musician, which is cool, it just takes up all my time and energy which I’d love to be able to put more commitment into my original music. the dilemma….

  6. Yes. But, I don’t know the exact action steps to take to get unstuck. I have a lot of good things going. My next goal is to get more work in schools. I am coming off of my fall tour in a few days and will have a couple of months to commit to booking and additional learning. Do you still do private coaching? If so, please send me a link. Thanks!

  7. Boy, I needed this one today. I’m approaching the two-year mark since I quit my property management job and went back to full-time music. So your line, “…before we know it, two years have gone by and we’re in the exact same place” really hit home. Now, I don’t want to be overly harsh on myself, because I do have a fairy full performance schedule (120 dates in 2017) and my quarterly streaming numbers are rising (1,400 streams last quarter), but what I’ve really been wanting is to get my songs signed to music libraries for use in TV, movies, advertising, etc. I’m 55 years old, and who knows how long I can continue the pace of performing live, or God forbid, what if I become ill or injured and can’t perform? Song placements can be quite lucrative, and can create residual income, as the movie/TV show/ ad is repeated. I have the home studio, I have the ability (I’ve had a few songs signed to music libraries, though nothing has “popped” yet) but I DABBLE, darnit!!! I think maybe it’s because I feel I need to spend my time working at bookings, because it’s an immediate payout… the song placement thing seems more like a pipe dream. But it’s a numbers game like anything else… I have about 2 dozen songs I keep submitting, and like I said, a few have been signed. But if I had, say, 100 songs to push, my odds would be astronomically better! So I will take your advice to heart, Dave (as I often do) and COMMIT to spending blocks of time writing, recording, and submitting songs. Thanks for the well-timed pep talk! (I read this post as part of your recent “12 Tips” post.)

    • Awesome Tom! Sounds like you’ve got a lot of good things happening already, and planning for the future with song placements/licensing would be a great move. You and I are roughly the same age, and I too am always thinking about ways to keep income coming in as my desire and ability to be a road warrior diminishes slowly but surely over time. I hope you’ll keep us posted.

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