Self-Assessment Questions for Working in the Music Business

By Loren Weisman

A great way to figure out what you want to do as well as what you would never do in the music business is to ask some important questions of yourself in a self-assessment format. Looking in the mirror and really being honest with yourself is the best way to know what’s best for you.

Don’t lie to yourself or answer these questions any other way than with brutal honesty. This assessment is for you, to help you see how certain aspects of your career could work better than others.

While the goal is to find the best fit and even a backup job in music, there is no job out there that is all roses and candy. Plan on hard times, struggles, and issues with any path you choose. But, if you resonate more with one job or position than another, it makes those hard times, difficult tasks, and other issues much easier to handle and get through.

Backup jobs and options aren’t just for those trying to be in the spotlight (but they may be necessary). As you narrow down your list of the best fit for you, realize that studying and learning about some of the options that show up as your second, third, and fourth choices don’t only give you a leg up in your first choice, but expand your knowledge in other areas that you may be able to work in before, during, or after you work toward your primary job.

The first self-assessment questions are from the more creative side and more pointed to the artist who wants to be a musician in the music business.

  • Who should you play with? Think of and find the people who share your common instrumentation lineups and have the type of personalities you can work with both on and off stage.

  • Who shouldn’t you play with? Avoid personalities that ignite and upset you. Think about how much time you’re going to spend with someone off the stage. You could make the best chemistry on stage, but you have to work with this person for most of the day off stage. Keep that in mind.

  • Who do you want to work with and not want to work with? Some artists want to go completely DIY, whereas others want to get signed or supported. Some look to do home recordings; others want to go to larger studios. Work with those who are on the same page with their approach.

  • What are your most favorite and least favorite genres? This is something to share with others, but also can help to understand the versatility of yourself and the potential options that are available in the music business for you. This helps to describe your sound and influences to reach more potential fans down the road.

  • Who are your biggest influences both inside and outside of music? Listing, sharing, and comparing what you love, where you came from and what you are about can help to connect you with others who have similar influences as well as creating great marketing content down the line to entice fans and followers.

  • Who are your biggest comparisons? Sharing your comparisons with other musicians to narrow down who to play with while also sharing this information with fans and in your marketing connects you to that many more people.

The next questions are biggies for everybody wanting to go into the music business.

  • What does success look like to you? Define your vision and what success means to you; then decide with whom you want to work and play. Success comes in many forms and can mean many things to different people. Working with those who are on the same page makes for a better working environment for everyone.

  • Where do you want to live? Where you want or have to live should be addressed. Whether you have family commitments or need be live in a specific city or area of the country, addressing this with others early on can keep location problems from showing up later.

When posing questions to band mates or other business associates, don’t look for them to provide perfect answers. You don’t need to all think or feel the same to be a good fit. Friction and difference can help with creativity and business both. Just make sure that the differences still allow you all to go after the same goals together . . . and without really getting on each other’s nerves.