If I could send my 10-year-ago self a series of messages that could almost fit into 5 fortune cookies, I would send these tips (along with a few stock recommendations):
1. Get around like-minded people, even if that means you have to move.
Collaborate with the best, most talented people that you can find. Develop long-term friendships with them. Don’t worry about not knowing what you’re doing- you’ll learn. Just relax when you’re with them, and focus on having fun.
2. You’re going to have to create opportunities.
It’s fine to look for opportunities, but most of the really great things you’ll do will come from you stepping up and starting something yourself. By being proactive with creating your own gigs that involve others, more unexpected opportunities will come your way.
3. Don’t get bogged down in “pretend” work that makes you feel accomplished in the short term.
Pretend work is cleaning your email inbox, practicing with no purpose, etc. Pretend work is anything that doesn’t really do anything for your career, but gives you the illusion that you’re making headway. Email is important, but don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s making massive improvements to your career.
4. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.
That includes paying for lessons, buying quality equipment, and hiring talented people to work with you. Even if finances are tight, you need to invest in yourself to see dividends down the road.
5. Just relax and have fun.
Stop being so serious! It’s okay to enjoy this process of making music for a living. Every decision isn’t life or death.