Making a career in music is hard enough without having to contend with your ego, a potential mine field. There are so many obstacles along the path to a career in music, or as a lifestyle, so why do so many sabotage their own path. The Ego knocks at the subconscious mind of every musician. It is the number one enemy, as it betrays and blinds us to most of our own self destructive tendencies. It’s the hidden element that defines the musician as approachable or toxic.

At the beginning of every musician’s journey, especially in those cases where a young artist goes viral or signs a major deal, it can be hard to remember the people who supported your grind. Everyone gets excited as new voices drown out those who played the biggest part in helping them get there. This can be the beginning of the end for a lot of young artists.

Our families, and humble beginnings are the roots that keep us grounded. I know from first hand experience how success can be intoxicating. After I appeared on ‘Top of the Pops’ in 89, I was surrounded by people who fed my ego. This made it hard for me to make balanced decisions as I had no balance in my life. I had no one reminding me of who I was. I was just being pushed to sport designer brands, bright lights and big stages. I needed someone to smash the idea of acting like a star and just be real. There’s nothing that disappoints like seeing an artist suddenly believe that they really are what the headlines are saying they are.

“Cause the only stars I know are in the sky.” Keep Risin’ to the Top by Doug E. Fresh

We’re told that if you think big, and live big, that you can be big. We’re told that that the weak will not survive, if your boring the audience will lose interest and if your ugly or normal you won’t get the attention on social media your craving. They say that for musicians to succeed they need to have the ‘x-factor’, whatever that may be. We’re told to dress for the job we want not the one we have. To fake it til you make it and to make sure you stand out from the crowd. To be yourself, as long as that’s interesting. This is the reason why you see so many ego-driven musicians, it’s on the job description.

Today we see musicians trying to cultivate the audience using their egos. I’m not saying we had it better back in the day, or that modern music and musicians have big issues, we didn’t have social media to feed or distract us. Today if you don’t have a trending instagram page or youtube account you won’t get gigs or the platform to rise. At this point you might start second guessing yourself. This can be so dangerous for any musician, as doubt is the musicians kryptonite. This is where the ego really seems to turn on you and begins to highlight every vulnerability.

The VIP parties, after-parties, and touring and interviews begin to remove you from reality to a world likes, and what’s trending in the industry, and why you need to keep posting on your Instagram page.

This is the time to get back into the real world. Go hang out with the people who know you best, have fun, live a little outside of the industry bubble. Then come back hard!

As vulnerability is unearthed an artist may doubt themselves, it often leads to feelings of guilt and inadequacy. This slowly edges into other areas of life, and attacks there well-being. With there wings clipped, they can’t fly and start picking fights, arguments, and paranoia quickly sets in. This is where the ego pretends to be your trusted partner, guiding you towards anger and despair leaving you alone, cut off from self, and from everyone else. These can be the worst moments in your fledgling career. Musicians are emotional beings. And the better you get as an artist, the more emotional it can become. The more you play, the more you feel. The more you feel the more exposed you can become.

The more you’re around people that feed your ego, the harder it is to stop, sit, and take some me time. It means no work, no production, no deals being made. It means time for Inspiration, creativity, reflection, and an amazing time to rebalance and align yourself. It is where you regroup, and come back harder.

Is the ego necessary?

Basil Reynolds

Coaching Consultant

Finding the Music Inside