“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I'm not sure you could get better advice in less than 20 words for someone making a go of it in the music business today than this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson (who obviously wasn't speaking about the music industry in 2015!)
If your plan is to play in a string quartet that is very similar to the Kronos Quartet that simply does it better than them, good luck to you.
If your plan is to write a book that basically mirrors the message of The Savvy Musician by David Cutler and simply write it better, good luck to you.
If your plan is to play in a brass quintet that mirrors the repertoire and persona of the Canadian Brass and simply do it a little better than they do, good luck to you.
To be clear, I'm not sarcastically wishing you luck because any of those three things are impossible. To the contrary.
You can absolutely do what Kronos does a little better. You can absolutely write a better book than Dr. Cutler did. You can absolutely be a better version of Canadian Brass. (Although all of these will be incredibly difficult to accomplish!)
The point is that the market place is not looking for a book that is 2% better than The Savvy Musician. Why was it such a wild success? Because there were no books like it. People talked about it. People shared it. People spread the word.
No one will get excited about a slightly improved version of anything that already exists and that's if they even notice in the first place.
But if you leave a brand new trail that is interesting, people will do your marketing for you. Just ask Time for Three, Gustavo Dudamel, Alarm Will Sound, and countless other artists and ensembles.
It's been done many times before and the beautiful thing is there's always room for more trails. Always.