The Success Equation Most Musicians Get Wrong

“People don’t buy what you do.  They buy why you do it.” 

Such is the claim made by Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, in the compelling video below.  And the message couldn’t be more apropos to musicians.





I’ve asked musicians from all over the country why they chose music as a career path.  By far, the two most common responses are:

  1. Because music is something I love
  2. Because music is something I’m good at

Now, if you do choose this vocation, let’s hope it’s something you’re passionate about and an area where you excel!

But those explanations are not a mission.  They’re not a vision. They provide no clues about what makes your work powerful, and offer no persuasive reason for others to buy your CDs, employ your group, hire you to their organization, attend your music school, or purchase anything else you’re selling. 

Sinek is correct.   As musicians we all know what we do (i.e. play amazing clarinet, teach piano), and usually how we do it (high quality chamber concerts, private lessons).  But the why is oddly absent for too many of us in the trenches. And our counterparts who get this equation right quickly rise to the top.

If we took his advice, why would be the single most important issue.  As we worked our way outward through the concentric rings of how and then what, we might even stumble onto completely new, different, and uncommon solutions. 

Hoping to attract a bigger following or get better gigs? What’s your why?


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309 Responses to “The Success Equation Most Musicians Get Wrong”

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