Category :

Career Advice

3 Important Lessons In Success From Bob Dylan

3 Important Lessons In Success From Bob Dylan

A Guest Post by Brendan Clemente of

I can't sing, but I can change the world

How would you feel about being booed off stage? What would you do if someone told you that you suck?

Bob Dylan is one of the most revered artists of all time. He is called “the voice of a generation”. It’s easy to look back and say that he is amazing because that’s the consensus, but damn, the road wasn’t always easy.

The guy was booed off the stage at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Bob frigen Dylan, booed off stage. But we know him today as one of the most successful artists who ever lived.

Bob Dylan is a groundbreaking artist for more reasons than I could list, and here’s three really important lessons in success that I have learned from him.

1. Perseverance in the face of adversity

Bob Dylan was booed off the stage in front of one of his formerly most appreciative audiences. If he can be booed off stage, anyone can be.

Did he let it keep him from writing literally hundreds more songs? Did he give up playing electric and swear that he’d only play acoustic from then on?

Many of you might say that he had already “made it”, so the press only made him more famous. But that’s not the moral of this story.

It’s that anything can happen to anyone. We have a nasty habit of dehumanizing people who achieve fame and success. Well the guy is human! Hell, as often as it doesn’t seem so, all rock stars are human! How quickly would you be able to bounce back if you were booed off stage in front of thousands of people?

You need to be confident and passionate in your direction, because no one else will believe in you until you believe in yourself.

The road to success looks more like a treacherous maze filled with unseen hazards than a smoothly paved road. It’s not that nothing goes wrong for wildly successful people, it’s their reaction and perseverance that makes them who they are.

2. Everyone who’s not doing it is a critic

The second tip comes from a live concert video I watched in my “History of rock and roll” class in college (attendance for me was not a problem in that class).

Bob Dylan plugged in his electric on tour soon after the infamous Newport folk festival debacle. One of the fans in the audience booed him and yelled, “You suck! You’re a fraud!”

Now I won’t recommend actually arguing with fans in the audience at a show, but Dylan managed to make it sound awesome. To loosely quote him, he replied to the audience member,

“Hey fella, that may be so. But I’m up here doing this. What are you doing? Who are you?”

Phenomenal. Who are you? he asked. What does that guy do? On what level does he deserve to be a critic of the direction Dylan decided to take his art?

There will always be people who tell you how to do things. The right way, the wrong way, the way it’s supposed to sound. Who are they to tell you?

You should already have clear goals in mind for your project. It’s fine to take suggestions, but don’t let others second-guessing you affect your decisions. The critics will always be people who aren’t in your shoes, who didn’t put themselves out there to be heard.

Anyone who has the time to criticize what someone else is doing isn’t focused enough on making their own dreams happen.

3. Playing it safe has its consequences

The final lesson that we take from Dylan today is that people are quick to react. Don’t be scared of trying new things for fear of audience reaction. One of my favorite quotes from Steve Jobs highlights this.

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them…” – Steve Jobs

The Dylan song that I hear most often today is “Like A Rolling Stone”. This song was from the album that the controversy would amass over. At the time, people didn’t know what the hell to think, they had never heard a folk artist do this. Many reactions were “He can’t do that, he’s a folk artist! He crossed the line!”

Dylan knew what he wanted to try, and he did it. He could have played it safe and never picked up an electric guitar. But this decision is part of the reason he is infamous now.  And today, almost sixty years later, we hail his decisions and change of direction as a staple in the history of rock and roll.

People won’t always be quick to catch on when something big is happening. How many people every single day play it safe for fear of failure? If you have an idea that shines bright to you, try it out!

If you fail, you have learned a lesson. If you succeed, the success, like your idea, can be bigger than you ever imagined.

Bob Dylan is a strong inspiration to me, and I believe that to succeed and follow through on your dreams it will greatly help you to develop a mindset similar to this.

Are you ready to stop being the critic and start being the creator?

My name is Brendan. I am a writer, blogger ( and musician. The music industry is a very complex and often intimidating place, and my aim is to help you navigate through and realize exactly what it takes to not only be successful, but to be happy.


5 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing Your Demo

Everything You Need to Know About Branding

How to Sell More Music as an Unsigned Artist

Musicians, the gig economy, and online learning... a happy (but dysfunctional) family.

If You Want to be a Recording Artist You Need the Right Development

15 Things You Must Do to Make it in the Music Industry

Saying no to everything else

Managing Expectations

Consistency Equals Success

How To Get Better: Practice

Separate The Emotion From The Event

Turn it down a few notches, please!

Are You Taking Ownership Of Your Songwriting Success?

The Shawshank Songwriter

Show Me Your Songwriting Friends, And I'll Show You Your Future

Getting out of a bad place

Taking your Music From a Hobby to a Career

How to change or build your career


4 important qualities of a band manager

Touring Advantages/Disadvantages From Less Than Jake

What musicians can learn from Joan Rivers

What you can learn from Bob Dylan's Career

Yes You're Talented, But Remember This…

Two Things That You Can Do to Start Making Music Industry Contacts Today

Promoting Music Internationally – The Right Way

How to Sell More Merchandise at Your Show

How To Reach The Best Music Business Contacts. Period.

4 Ways To Be A Boss A$$ Indie Artist

Are you over looking this strategy to becoming a better musician

Why You Should Be Doing House Shows

It's All of Your Business

Don't Buy Your Own Tunes

What If You Didn't Need Money or Attention?

Why Bands Need to Stop Bitching

What's In Your Toolbox?

Why You Need a Live Music Producer (And Don't Even Know It)

Many Eggs, Many Baskets: How to Make a Living as a Musician in 2014

Your Music is Just a Hobby. So What? Part 1 of TBD

Defining Success And How To Achieve It With A Career In Music

Why Talent Isn't Enough

Why You Need Your Own Superhero Alter-Ego

How To Make It In The Music Industry

What If The Label Says "YES"?

How to Avoid Artistically Starving to Death

20 Worst Indie Artist Mistakes

Why Your Most Important Tool In Being A Successful Indie Musician Might Actually Be Your Day Job

The Importance of Branding as Recording Artists

Why Bad Days Can Do You A World Of Good

How To Tell If You Need Singing Lessons

How To Ruin Your Music Career In 10 Easy Steps – Part 2 (Steps 6-10)

How to Stay Motivated to Make Music

The Self-Promotion Tactic that Fails Every Time

Sell 1000 CD's In a Weekend

Music Licensing – 90 Day Challenge

Superfans: The Key to a Sustainable Music Career

A Solution To The DIY Artists Biggest Challenge

How To Ruin Your Music Career In 10 Easy Steps – Part 1 (Steps 1-5)

What to Look For In A Distributor

Does 99% of Jazz Suck? – The Jazz Kickstarter That Seduced 870 Backers

Are You Making These 9 Band Rehearsal Mistakes?

Enhancing Your Music Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Press Kits for Musicians

7 Important Aspects to Getting Noticed in the Music World

7 Tactics to Double the Size of Your Fanbase

Why The Vocals On Your Track Are Vitally Important And How You Can Improve Them

Top 3 Tips To Find The Right Singing Teacher

Some Will Always Say You're Wrong

That Time'n Thang

Leap Of Faith


Question & Doubt

Eat Lighting

Connecting With People In The Industry

Five Reasons You're Not Licensing More Music

The Importance Of Following Up In The Music Licensing Business

How To Fund Your Band's Kickstarter When You Have No Fan Base

Human Intervention as a Competitive Advantage

A Quick & Dirty Guide to Branding

Why it Pays to Replace Self-Promotion with Selflessness

Rules for Confronting a Difficult Band Member

Valuable To Others, or Only You?

It's All Who You Know?

Ignore Your Website & Social Networks and Your Career Will Suffer

Three Intelligent Ways to Make a Living as a Musician

What Musicians Should Carry at all Times

Sometimes Big Promo Doesn't Work

Avoid Band Drama: Be Up Front

How To Effectively Handle A Flaky Band Member

Why No One Is Listening To Your Music

Establish Your Blueprint

How To Avoid Serious Mistakes When Choosing An Agent

Managing The Fear of The Unknown In The Music Industry

How To Balance A Family, Your Music Career, And Your Stresses

MusicPreneur - The New Music Industry Mindset

Band Leading 202 - Gigs

How Does An Independent Artist Stay Relevant While Creating New Music?

What It Takes To Be A Successful DIY Independent Artist

Band Leading 101 - Rehearsal

How To Make Lots Of Money Selling Your Merchandise

Why You Need Great Pictures As An Artist

Overnight Success - Does That Happen?

The Power of Positive Thinking

Goal Setting Tips That Work

Easy Tips For Engaging Your Fans

Getting Things Done As A Team

4 Common Newsletter Mistakes You Should Avoid

Creating Your Social Media Image

Effectively Utilize Your Youtube Music Videos

Tips For Building A Bigger Fanbase

How To Build A Professional Music Team

The Top 5 Ways To Get Noticed in Today's Music Industry

Why Radio Spins Matter And Tips On How To Get Them

Networking Essentials For The Music Business

Why You Should Be On Pinterest

Signup Free