by Jake Espinoza

This list isn’t suppose to be an “I know everything so listen to me” sort of list. This list is mainly comprised of things I’ve heard from people who have successful careers in music.

Most of these principles can be applied to just about any field, but were generally music specific during my conversations.

Here we go….

1. Follow your instincts.

People are going to disagree with you. Listen to what people have to say, but trust your instincts. By having faith in yourself one of two things will happen, either you will find out you are usually right and people will start respecting your opinion, or you will find out you are usually wrong and should probably find a new career choice.

2. Be innovative.

This may seem like common sense, but few people have the courage to try anything at all and even fewer people will try something new. By doing something different you already have a step ahead of the competition.

The best decision I ever made was to make a Kid Espi coloring book. My friends thought I was joking when I told them about it, but it helped bring attention to my merch table after shows. People would bring their friends over to check it out, and some bought the album just because of how much they liked the coloring book.

3. Focus on getting better, not on being good.

Instead of focusing on whether or not your song is good, focus on how it could be better. if you focus on improving everything you do, you will eventually be good.

4. Make schedules.

Make a to do list for that day. Give yourself a timeline for your album. Make a five year plan. I literally waited until this year to start doing this and I’m amazed by how much more efficient I am because of it. I feel like I wasted three of the last five years of my life by not making myself regular to-do lists.

Spend thirty minutes each night planning out what your next day looks like. How are you going to get further ahead in life tomorrow?

I’m still getting better at it, but I highly suggest starting to do this now if you haven’t already.

5. Prepare for your live shows and talk to people after.

Your live show is most likely going to be your first impression on a new audience. If you are a stumbling drunk on stage, nobody is going to be at your next show (trust me I know). Even if there are only 20 people in the crowd, understand that those 20 people took time out of their lives to come see you and be prepared to show them a good time!

Go to shows and study what works (and doesn’t work) for other people. Take the principles behind their success and apply them to your own set.

Also, people are going to be much more likely to remember you if you are outside talking to them after the show. If you are backstage playing “Rap Star for a Night” you are cheating yourself out of building a connection with a room of potential fans.

Back when people still bought CDs, I sold the majority of my albums based on the fact that I was either at the merch table or outside the venue talking to people.