I got a text from a student asking about what it means to hustle. I can only talk from experience. Every persons' version of hustling is going to be different. But, in the beginning of your career, I believe all of this is a part of the hustle.
Mentally and emotionally: Hustling means you make being a musician who you are, your life, your everything. AND - not letting anything or anyone get the way of your love and passion for what you do. Believing in yourself and your talent so much that other people trying to bring you down becomes something that rolls off your back because there is NO STOPPING YOU TALENT FROM SHINING IN THIS WORLD. Hustling means having good days and tough days but not giving up because of one bad day/week or month. It’s wanting it so bad that you get crawly skin when you think about your future and sometimes nauseous from the excitement of it being your LIFE, who you are.
Actions: Hustling is finding your brand, your platform and sticking with it. Singing as though you are performing when you practice. Singing nonstop, everyday. Hustling nowadays is posting a 30 second video of your voice on all your social media and not caring what others are going to say; a 30 sec piece of a cover or original EVERYDAY to keep your face and name out there. Hustling is booking 2-4+ shows per week/weekend, or going to every open mic/sit in with a band or karaoke opportunity and getting your name and voice heard. Hustling is networking with every musician you meet and hoping to jam with those that are on the same page as you. It's having your EP/CD/merch in your car at all times for any opportunity to share your music - not putting yourself in a box and letting yourself express what you love in all forms all the time. Hustling is making what you love a part of your strut.
This seems like a lot but honestly once you make it a part of your identity - it’s not. It’s just WHO you are.
I’m speaking from experience from when I was a full time performing/recording and touring musician based in MPLS. It was my full identity. I woke, slept, breathed music in all ways I could. I didn’t do anything else. It took time to get where I wanted at first, but I never gave up even when it was really hard. I wanted it so bad.
Don’t let all of this overwhelm you when reading it either. Each piece falls into place. If you want it as a career, much of this has to happen and it will naturally. Now, if you want this as your career and don’t want the ups and downs, then you pick and choose from the list above and only do the things that bring you happiness. It will be hustling but not as a full time career.
Oh. And always no matter which direction you go, don’t be afraid to say no when "it" doesn’t feel right. Surround yourself with good people; people with musical and personal integrity believe in you and that you deserve to be respected. It's hard in this industry to have people around you all the time that have the same professional views as you; don’t settle for anything less than what you know you want in your career journey.