How to Avoid Burnout In The Electronic Music Industry

Author : Peter Velez
May 13, 2019

How to Avoid Burnout In The Electronic Music Industry

If you’re an artist trying to break into the industry, you’re going to make acquaintances and friends along the way, and whether you like it or not, that’s going to be your competition. Some are going to break through and make a name for themselves faster than you will. Don’t worry, don’t let it deter you either, success looks different on everybody. Conversely, you will see that some are going to wither away and give up entirely.

That’s where you should be worried.

You never want someone to give up on their dreams. For starters, it’s depressing to watch, but having more artists succeed in an area raises the standard and competition in that market; demanding new styles and higher quality. That alone will help sharpen your versatility as an artist. Root on the competition. The harder the competition, the better you become. That will prepare you for the big leagues.

When an artist gives up, that artist could have had multiple factors in his career that may have deteriorated his motive, passion, and drive. In the industry we call this “burning out,” and I would be willing to bet that any artist in the electronic music scene knows at least one person who fell victim to this. You want to avoid artist burn out. Not only because of the competition factor, but also because of the amount of potential that is lost every time this happens. Imagine if your favorite artist burnt out and didn’t reach the level to where they are today.

We’ve analyzed a handful of cases and will discuss the many ways to avoid burnout to have a long fruitful career in the music industry:

1. Changing the workflow

An artist may be tired of the workflow that he is too accustomed to. Some examples could be the way he develops tracks, the digital audio workstation he is used to, or the environment he works in. An artist can reach the threshold of their tools and find themselves unable to create new tracks.

Artists are often told or are under the impression that they HAVE to use a specific VST or a DAW. the way he was originally creating music can be very boring and dull. Not everyone has to use the same DAW or the same VST; not one shoe fits everyone.  The fun aspect of making music may have gotten lost over time. When this happens, an artist can push away projects and or lose drive to get new ideas down on tracks.

It’s time to switch it up. The way that an artist use to make music should be discarded. One key piece of advice is this: No one can ever tell you how to make music. There is an elitist type of thinking that goes as follows: “if you don’t make music the way I make music, you’re doing it wrong”. Music production is so subjective that there is no wrong way. Although, if you want ideas on how to start new tracks, we talk about 9 Ways To Get New Track Ideas.

2. Finding a new sound

Artists are going to evolve. Even in this day and age you will see popular mainstream artists like Deadmau5, Coyu and Porter Robinson taking on new horizons. New aliases like Testpilot and Virtual Self are marketing strategies to try out new styles; Often done to separate the two aliases to avoid confusing their fan base. An artist will try new things after saturating or getting tired of their current sound. Always remember: you are not stuck in the lane you’re in.

Often artists are scared to stray away from their path of success creatively and will beat a dead horse until they don’t want to produce music anymore. This is a mentality issue, one that dictates that the momentum that they’ve already created for themselves will dissolve. Everything they’ve worked on will be for nothing. There’s a problem with this way of thinking because it promotes saturation. It could be genre, it could be a niche that the artist made. An artist has to evolve into new territory or the artist will become dated and bland.

Try something new, put something out that doesn’t fit your demographic. If it sounds good to the you, than other people will like it as well. It is very unlikely that an artist will create a sound that literally no one else likes. Ultimately, you never know what that new sound could turn into. That’s how every artist begins, by creating something that they liked and that in return, others loved. Never be afraid to try something new. That maybe the new sound that will push your career further than ever before.

3. Clearing House

This could be the hardest pill to swallow: the problem could come down to the team that the artist conducts business with. Becoming an artist is equivalent to becoming a business. The artist being the capital of the company, there are other working entities in place to ensure success. So, with that perspective, a company needs employees. This can apply to any type of artist; ones that are just starting out, to international icons. The people you surround yourself with are absolutely essential in your career.

These are people who are going to influence an artist’s career choices. Bad decisions or lack of control can lead to an artist burning out and giving up. The management perspective of a business can position themselves where the artist abides by their decisions. A good trusting manager will understand what’s best for the artist. These managers know what is necessary not only to further the artist’s career, but also to ensure the wellbeing of the company. In this situation, the artist can be hands-off and focus more on the creative side. On the flip side, bad management  can overwork the artist and ruin their drive. The people surrounding the artist may have alternative and destructive motives. This is when you should clear house.

This is the hardest suggestion out of the five because of how messy this can get. Nobody likes being fired or cut out. Depending on how much the company has grown and how much money is involved, this decision can also run an artist into legal issues. Ultimately, if an artist doesn’t trust the people he works with, or if they are not listening, they need to be removed.  The artist’s career and personal wellbeing should always be top priority. As mentioned before, the artist is the capital of the company. If you do not take care of the capital, you will lose your business.

4. Your Health

Mental and physical health should be priority number one. Although fourth on the list, it’s the most common factor that leads to burning out. Overworking can not only deteriorate your drive and passion, but your mental and physical health too. This year, Eric Prydz, unfortunately, had to cancel his return to Miami for Miami Music Week due to an acute medical issue. This led to the cancellation of his standalone show , and two Ultra appearances. A lot of things were riding on Eric returning to Miami, but because his management is understanding and knows what’s best, plans were cancelled in order to focus on his health. Similarly, I Hate models had to cancel and postpone gigs recently due to a hearing problem, with the understanding that his hearing was his number one priority and shouldn’t have been jeopardized for the sake of a few gigs.

Let’s not dance around the elephant in the room. The music industry is infested with drugs. If artists takes care of themselves and doesn’t abuse substances, they are more likely to become healthy and successful artists. It’s very easy to get drawn into a heavy drug or alcohol scene inside the music industry, but that will lead you to a very dark path in your life. Let’s make this clear: taking drugs is very addictive and should be moderated. Time and time again we continue to lose talent because of drug overdoses.

Mental health should be taken as seriously as physical health, as it is another huge problem that plagues the music industry. One of the things that make artists great is the emotion and feeling they are able to capture into music. All artists are so emotionally driven that any mental health issues could be very detrimental. Not only to their career, but personal wellbeing. We encourage anyone in the industry to seek out mental health advice and assistance, and for all to keep an open and honest dialogue on a subject that should never be considered taboo.

In a previous article we discussed the anxiety and mental issues that people in this industry can find themselves facing, with some advice on how to combat them.

5. Hiatus

There’s nothing wrong with stepping away. As mentioned early, it’s depressing to see someone’s dreams die out, but it’s another thing to step away and return with a clearer mind. There is beauty in taking time to breathe, understand, and improve. There’s a reason why companies give vacation days to their employees. Though, going on a hiatus doesn’t mean you stop working and planning.

The best recommendation we can give is to never go blindly into a hiatus. If an artists doesn’t have a plan for his hiatus, then the artist doesn’t have a plan to return to music, which doesn’t make it hiatus. Artists should come up with ideas and activities they will be doing during the hiatus in order to return. This should include a time frame of how long the hiatus will be.

The objective is to breathe and relieve the stress that was causing the artist to become tired and drained. Once the artist has become sound, they need to figure out what went awry. This is more about reflecting and understanding what killed the drive. The artist may even use the previous points in this article as an answer. Once the artist understands, it’s now time to plan. The plan should answer the following questions:

How do I avoid the pitfalls the artist found themselves in before?

How we can succeed from where they are now?

What have they learned on this hiatus will help them when they return back in the studio and/or on the road. All that should occur without touching a single bit of work. Once they have completed all these steps, it is now time to get back to work.

The activities that they did during their hiatus should be incorporated into their everyday ritual. If it’s something like exercising, then you keep that going after the hiatus. as you will want to avoid finding yourself in another slump.

With how diverse this industry is, there is a place and a style for everyone, without the need for burning out completely. We have spent years cultivating music and finding angles to express ourselves, the arts being a gateway for any artist to express anything they fees.

Never give up an unrestricted method to express yourself. No matter what you’re facing, there’s a solution out there, and your peers are there to help you.

Don’t forget to check the rest of our Artist Resource and Industry Resource sections, created to help YOU succeed in the electronic music industry.