The 5 Musts of Owning Your Music Career

AAfter over a decade working in music as a musician, mentor, writer, and everything in between, I am proud to share the knowledge that I wish someone had told me when I first started out. I believe that indie music is the core of the industry, and I hope this guide can be a tool for a musician on any level to expand their business and be the best artist possible without the help of expensive and restrictive companies.

Not all of these tips need to be followed exactly how I explain them, so practice finding your own unique way of doing things. If you’d like to get the full details on these tips (and many more) check out my easily downloadable book Don’t Starve! How to Survive While Building Your Brand. I hope these tips help you in your journey, good luck!

Johnny Gillespie

Johnny Gillespie


I would say the most important thing for an artist starting out (or even an veteran musician) is networking. This means getting out there and making friends. If you don’t know how to be a good friend or make friends, I highly suggest reading and researching how to be a valuable friend within influential crowds. This gives you an edge that will help make your career go in a better direction. You need a tribe. This includes friends, fans and power players that help you get to your goals as an artist. Without your tribe, you are lost at sea. There is no way you can make it without a team. I say this in the kindest way possible. If you want to be successful make sure you know how to make friends and fans fast!

Give credit

Giving credit to those that help you along the way always creates a sense of gratitude. Grateful people attract more like minded people. This puts a fire in the process that heightens your awareness and intuition to find the right people in your tribe. It also makes people want to be more inclined to help you. I learned this at an early age. It’s better to give credit than to take the credit. Sure, you made a song, but who mixed it? Who promoted it? Who helped build your brand? Never forget who helped you along the way. When you forget the people who helped you, that will be the day that you start to lose yourself and the great ones around you.


I was always told to plan by my mentors. Planning helps the goal process. When I plan, I create bite sized tasks that get me closer to my goals. This might seem like a no brainer but failing to plan is planning to fail. This process creates a sense of expectation for the goal to come to fruition. This also makes you more efficient with your time and time is a valuable resource we must not take lightly.

Plan where you’re going to invest your talents! Plan where you’re going to invest your time! Plan where you’re going to invest your money or save your money so you can continue to climb the mountain of success. They call this time treasure and talent – You must use your most valuable resources and plan them efficiently so you become a master at the resources at hand.


When it comes to the creative process, you must invest your time in the craft but this isn’t the most important step. You could be a great musician, but if you don’t have a tribe to share your art with, then it’s pointless. However, you should still practice and plan this process in your day or week. People think that if you do nothing but create music, you’ll be all good. Not true. You need to be an expert at creating music, but also an expert at branding and marketing. If you’re not, then plan on falling back on the tribe we talked about earlier to have them help you in areas you lack. Yes, creating music is important but we must also create content and create a plan to execute.

Fine tune

Rinse and repeat. Do what works best and keep fine tuning until it becomes second nature. Do the 5 step process until it’s just right for you. Make sure you cater to all the things listed equally and watch the magic unfold. I’m a firm believer in what you put out you get back tenfold. So why not put out something that you’re proud of? Plan for bright days. Sure, there might be challenging ones but the more you get into the habit of planning your days, hours, and tasks,the better you’ll feel about the process. The tasks fulfilled are the rewards. Every goal set and achieved makes you more efficient and able to climb to higher heights! Remember, it’s the journey not the destination. The people you meet along the way and the things you do with them makes it a win win for everyone.

California alternative artist and new author Johnny Gillespie released his debut book Don’t Starve! How to Survive While Building Your Brand on July 8th. In this book, Gillespie’s 13 years of experience working as an artist in the music industry come to fruition in a thoughtful guide book for new musicians. This book is built from personal experiences — ranging from the highest highs to the lowest lows — and enriched with knowledge from Gillespie’s past mentors. The artist provides a thoughtful, thorough collection of industry tips tailored to new musicians unsure of where to start.


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