It’s been a little over a year and a half since I started seriously pursuing music. Up to this point the experience has been nothing short of unbelievable. But after a CD release, TV shows, concerts, newspaper articles, YouTube videos…and Twitter, there’s 2 things I know for certain:
1) I have a long long long way to go before I REALLY achieve anything of lasting value in the world of music.
2) I would be nowhere near where I am if it weren’t for the generous help and advice of others both in and outside the music industry.
I know everyone has to make their own way in their careers, “carve your own path” so to speak…but it doesn’t hurt to look at how others got to where they are. Especially those you highly respect.
This is just some of the advice I’ve received about music/life in the last couple of years from music professionals, friends, family, and random people along the way. The advice below has helped me begin carving my own path. It isn't the “Go to this website and follow these 7 steps” type of advice. These are things that last more then a website set-up or marketing plan. Those things can be figured out with time.
I don’t want to sound overly mushy and “Tony Robbins-ish” in this post, but these are things I truly believe in and try to implement daily. I hope you find them useful or slightly inspiring yourself:
I’ve heard this quite a bit and think it comes first and foremost. If you don’t truly enjoy what you are doing, regardless of whether you’re making money or not, STOP. Life’s just too short to spend years and years trudging along unhappily.
“You have to be Exceptional”
One of the world’s most influential thinkers on modern-day marketing, Seth Godin, once wrote about creating a product or art:
“You’ll know when you’re on to something special, because people will love it so much they’ll tell everyone.
If people aren’t telling their friends about it yet, don’t waste time marketing it. Instead, keep improving until they are.
Sell one. Find one person who trusts you and sell him a copy. Does he love it? Is he excited enough to tell ten friends because it helps them, not because it helps you? If not, you must stop what you’re doing and start over.”
“You create your own luck”
I believe that sometimes in life you can “catch a lucky break,” something just happens by pure chance or coincidence. I tell everyone who beats me in Monopoly that they were just “lucky”. But most of the time, luck is a byproduct of something you’ve done to EARN that luck. People who sit around and wait for their “big break” are far less likely to be “lucky” then those out there working on their craft all the time. Think about anyone you respect who’s been successful at what they do…none of them got there by sitting around waiting for a producer, photographer, or CEO to call out of the blue and offer them the chance of a lifetime. They went and got it.
“Look people in the eye and say ‘thank you’ ”
I know this sounds so simple, but you’d be surprised at how many people (especially in music) just don’t do this. It takes no skill or talent to be appreciative of the people who have helped you in anyway. And the thing is…people remember those things and will continue to help you down the road.
“Remember people’s names”
I for one am HORRIBLE at this…but I really do try. As many have told me, this is a really big deal and obviously goes hand-in-hand with the point above. There are so many “Secrets to Networking” and “How to Impress People” books available… but I believe following the last 2 points covers most if not all you really need to know. The rest is just minor details.
“Picture where ‘whatever it is you’re doing today’ will lead you in 5 years”
This is hard for me to do, because ultimately, you just don’t know. You have hopes and dreams of where your art or job will lead you…but life is just so unpredictable. A fellow musician, who has been in the industry for a long time, told me this is one of the best ways to move your life in the direction you want. He said… “Are the people, jobs, and things you do daily taking you where you wanna go”?
“Rock the shit out of places”
Excuse the language, but this is one of the better pieces of advice I’ve received. It doesn’t matter how many people come to a show, or who’s in the room…rock the shit out of the place. This obviously carries over to anything in life…do it well… wait not “well”… exceptional. You just never know who’s listening.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
- Beverly Sills