There is a basic idea in the music industry that a lot of your success relies on luck. Sometimes when you look at the career at some of the superstars out there, it may seem that they had a lot of luck to get where they are. This is true in some respects; success in this industry does have a lot to do with luck. But, it may not have as much influence as you may think. I looked at some of the careers of some successful musicians and found something very interesting. A lot of what I had dismissed as luck actually was as a direct result of what the musician was doing. It was a direct result of effort more than anything sort of help from some outside force.
Since we're on the topic of luck, let's talk a bit about bad luck. We've all had those days where nothing seemed to go right. If something could go wrong, it would. There is no doubt that sometimes things just aren't working in your favor. Bad luck, like good luck, has a lot to do with what you do and don't do. It also has a lot to do with cause and effect. For example, if you've bought a used car and that car breaks down on you, it's not so much a situation of bad luck as it is probability. Most often when you buy something that's used, odds are that it has some defects. In fact, if you get something used and it doesn't have any major defects, you may consider yourself lucky.
An Ounce of Prevention
We've all heard the saying: 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'? Well this is true of bad luck too. How much is something bad happening as a result of prevention as it is just an accident. A lot of times, without prevention, an accident is just waiting to happen. If you have a vehicle that you don't upkeep, then it's just a matter of time before something breaks down. It has nothing to do with bad luck. Have you ever noticed some people's lives seem to be in perpetual turmoil? Things seem to break down and go wrong on a regular basis. On closer inspection you find that a lot of times they're just unorganized or simply failed to take care of something when the time was right. For example, I don't know how many times something went wrong in my life and I immediately chalked it up to bad luck. More often than not though, looking back over the sequence of events I usually find something that I could have done to have prevented the problem in the first place. There are also examples where the odds may be stacked against you and you deny the fact that they are there. If buy a house in the Midwest and you have your house destroyed from a tornado, it's not as much bad luck as it is bad planning.
The basic point of this is that a lot of bad luck may be the simple result of not taking the necessary actions to prevent the problem in the first place. And, in the same way, you may experience 'good luck' as a result of taking positive action. If you extend this type of thinking to other area of your life, you start to see some patterns.
Then there are the conclusions people draw when things don't go their way or not according to plans. Sometimes when things go slightly off, people make it worse by abandoning their efforts or rebelling against the process. For example, you may miss your bus on your way to a really important meeting, dismiss it as bad luck and abandon the opportunity all together. I know that I've done this. I attempt to achieve something only to give up at the last moment because of some unforeseen circumstances or unplanned interruptions. I'll get frustrated at my 'bad luck' and drop the whole affair. Things getting in the way and not going according to plan are simply a part of life. The army, who is famous for taking on monumental tasks has a saying that says 'a plan is simply a guideline to getting started'. Meaning once you get started on a project or toward an objective, things will go 'wrong' and not according to plan. Having the plan there is simply a guideline to make sure that everybody keeps the objective in mind. Things are always going to go wrong. It's not bad luck; it's simply the way of the universe.
So when things go wrong you're simply going to have to fix the error or find another way. In keeping with the ounce of prevention theme, there are things that will go wrong no matter what precautions you've taken. This can be back luck or it can be something that was going to happen and you just didn't see the signs. Sometimes things will happen as a result of things that are beyond your control. If you've worked in the forest industry and then the bottom falls out of the industry is this bad luck? Or is it just a natural part of our changing economy?
Have you ever met somebody who has no problem meeting people? They seem to attract people wherever they go and always seem to know somebody. I've known a few people like this and not only are they popular; they also seem to be very lucky. I knew a guy who seemed to be really lucky at getting things done, getting jobs and getting help from other people. I always chalked this up to good luck until I noticed how good he was with people. He was outgoing, genuine and people never had any misgivings about going out of their way for him. The funny thing is that most of the time, the people helping never asked for anything in return. In short, he had charisma. Is this guy really lucky or is it as result of a developed skill? Some people are born with great people skills but this also one area that can be improved with practice. Nowhere is this skill more important than the music industry. You'll be surprised at how many opportunities arise simply from knowing somebody. Actually it goes beyond knowing somebody; it's a result of good relationships. These like most things, need to be cultivated.
Having the ability to get to know people and develop good relationships is one of the most important skills to have as a musician. For some well known musicians, this is the secret to their success; they were simply great at meeting the right people and getting those people to help them out with their career. It's amazing how much luck you draw when you are surrounded with great people.
Then there are the 'lucky' people who just seem to get a lot done. You know the type, they don't seem to do a lot yet seem to get a lot done. They seem to be lucky and have success even though they seem to have limited skills. Here the luck comes from simply playing the odds and focusing on the one thing that matters. Some people in the music industry seem to be really lucky at their career while they seem to be a mess in other areas of their life. The fact of the matter is that they make sure that they get the essentials done. There is the 80/20 rule in business where 80% of your success comes from 20% of your effort. In other words, there a couple of things that you do that accounts for 80% of your success. These people seem to have found that 80% and get that done. It's amazing how much success you can have by doing this. It may seem to other people that you don't work hard or that it comes easy for you. The fact of the matter is that once you take care of the essentials, most of the other 80% will either take care of itself or won't matter half as much as you may think.
The Right Attitude
Sometimes having good luck is simply a matter of having the right attitude. If you do consider yourself lucky, you may be more willing to do things that other people won't. You may be open to new ideas or just try things without preconceived notions. Or you may simply try again where most people would give up. Some people in the music industry got lucky simply because they 'got out there'. You may try things that others would consider too risky or daring. You may walk into situations and ask for what you want where most people would consider it too pushy. In short, you are expecting the best from situations. If you have a good attitude and are willing to try things, not take things too seriously and just get out there, you may end up with more luck than other people.
There is an element of simply being open to being lucky. If you're open to trying things, to meeting new people and learning new skills, you may find yourself getting more opportunities than most people. There is the attitude of simply trying things and getting it out there. According to Derek Sivers, some of the most successful artists on CDBaby were the ones that simply tried many things. They got things done and tried many avenues of promotion without worrying about making 'the right moves'. If you're out there, getting things done and making things happen, you may end up getting really lucky.