How to find direction when you feel lost in your music business career
Working in the music industry is cool AF.
But here’s what’s not cool at all:
Feeling lost and wondering if this career is right for you
Feeling unchallenged and bored, instead of passionate and motivated like you used to
Feeling insecure, confused and overwhelmed about what to do next.
This is a very uncomfortable place to be - I know, I’ve been there.
Having a music business career or working at your current role may be all you’ve known and loved until now - so how can you find direction?
When you answer the typical ‘so, what do you do ?’ question, your interlocutor’s expression changes. They suddenly look at you with a mixture of admiration, envy and fascination. The ‘awesome’ stamp of approval gets automatically imprinted on your forehead. Even if you do pottery in your spare time. What you do is the dream job of many, and it was probably the dream job of your 16 year-old self, too.
But that dream is slowly turning into a nightmare.
The initial passion and excitement have turned into boredom, frustration, or a lack of motivation. Maybe you’re missing a sense of meaning and purpose in an industry that can be superficial.
You may feel trapped by your current job, with a nagging feeling that you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. This makes you feel drained, depressed and anxious about what to do next.
On top of it, you feel bad about being ungrateful and not appreciating what you have, when others would trade their own grandmother for a job like yours!
If this is you, know that this is a perfectly normal situation. And a great opportunity in disguise.
Gone are the days when people stuck with the same career all their lives. Career reconversions are becoming more and more common, especially when you reach your late 30s or 40s. Millennials have understood this even more quickly; job-hopping their way to more experience, meaning and balance as they progress in their careers, and not hesitating to leave a role or company when things are not a fit anymore.
And let’s face it: the music industry can very much be a young(er) person’s game.
There may be some ageism to overcome, and the lifestyle that was once so appealing may not rock your boat anymore (pottery still does though!). Having to work evenings and weekends or be at a club until 6am, surrounded by people who could be your own children, feels like the last thing you wanna do after a certain age or when you have a family. Not to mention staying on top of your networking game and trying to stay relevant, when ambitious, hungry kids are coming at you fast.
So, where do you go from here?
First, congratulate yourself for having the courage to question the status quo. Indeed, it may seem easier to bury your head in the sand, give in to fear and keep doing what you’ve been doing.
Know that the uncertainty and confusion that you’re feeling right now is nothing compared to the long-term pain of trading your soul’s desire for comfort or a (false) sense of security.
Next, ask yourself what you want your work to do for you.
Amy Wrzesniewski, a researcher at Yale University, identified 3 ways people see their work:
as a job: your work is primarily a means to an end, so you can support your family, hobbies, or life outside work.
as a career: you’re motivated by the paycheck as well as advancement and being seen as successful.
as a calling: your work is aligned with who you are, you feel a sense of purpose and want to make a contribution to the world.
If you’re reading this, my guess is that you’ve either got a ‘calling orientation’ or are moving towards it. According to Amy’s research, this group is the most satisfied with their work and lives.
As you grow and evolve in life, your calling may evolve with you, as it did for me.
How come my days as an unpaid intern at BMG London were some of the happiest of my career? Because for a girl from Marseille who was passionate about music but had zero contacts in the industry, this was a dream come true. A decade later, I was still ecstatic about my work at Razzmatazz: I had the creative freedom to give underground artists their first show in Spain, as well as booking headliners from across the musical spectrum.
Until the day came that I wasn’t ecstatic anymore. I became jaded, bored, and my job started to feel meaningless. More importantly, I could not ignore my deep calling to help others through personal development - my other growing passion - any longer.
I felt completely, profoundly, miserably stuck for a few years. After all, there aren’t really any personal development jobs you can apply for, and mental health in the music industry wasn’t even a topic when I decided to switch careers.
I know how painful it is to feel lost and overwhelmed about the different directions you could be taking, and become anxious about which one is the correct one for you.
I know that the fear of losing what you worked so hard for is real.
I understand how scary it is to make changes, and possibly let go of a role that gives you status or some sense of identity (and that cool stamp of approval!)
Here’s what I also know:
Life’s way too short to spend 8h+/day doing something you that doesn’t light you up. No job is perfect of course, but when the bad outweighs the good, it’s time to move on.
Having regrets or ignoring that little voice inside that’s dying to be heard, can - and will - haunt you for the rest of your life. The transition period you’re in right now is in fact a golden opportunity to fulfill your potential and move on to something better and more suited to who you are.
The only way to achieve more clarity is to ask yourself the right questions and start taking action.
When you work with me , you’ll get the guidance you need and the answers you’re looking for. You’ll get clear on which direction to go in, what your next move looks like, and find the confidence to make the necessary changes.
Get in touch now to find more details about the programme, and take the first steps towards a career that makes you feel excited and passionate again, whether you stay in music - or not.