As a professional (actual or aspiring) musician, each path we take is unique to ourselves. The challenges we face are somewhat universal, but each solution should be tailor made to meet our unique needs. Or maybe a better way to say it is we each have a unique path to success to live out, and the tribulations we fight through to get where we want to go are an important part of that story.
One of the most important questions each artist asks themselves is "how can I get paid for my art"? How can I make music and make a living doing it? The answer lies in the unique situation each individual finds him or herself in. If you're a songwriter, maybe the answer lies some where on music row, getting a pub deal or the like. If you're a band, maybe the answer lies out on the road, on the club circuit. If you're a singer, maybe the answer is you tube… my point is that we each have a unique set of talents to meet each set of challenges with, and our job is to first identify and understand where we want to go with our careers then work backwards to get there. For me, I want to be known as a great producer who helps artists achieve their sonic vision, and as a great guitar player and songwriter in my own rite. (sound familiar?)
So how do I get there? Well, for starters, I make very specific, time sensitive, small and achievable goals (S.M.A.R.T.). These goals are specific to me (for example, booking four records or EP's a month at my studio etc) and meet my needs both in the short term and long term. They come from the roles I give myself (husband, business owner, and band leader of The Sound Awake).
What are your roles? What are your goals? Once you identify where you want to be, work backwards and define the steps that need to be taken.
The last thing I'll mention is about understanding the bigger picture. Each "failure" can be turned into a success story. For example, if you're a band that tours, and you play an off market in-between two major markets, and the turn out isn't that great your first time through, then at the very least, you have a great data point that says next time don't play the off market show, or if you do, understand what situation you are walking into, and figure out how to turn that into a win. You've got the data, and data is powerful stuff. I think too often we as artists can get lost in the negativity, the self doubt and we forget that at the end of the day, this is a business we are in. Yes, commerce AND art coexist. This doesn't mean you need to bow to the gatekeepers of old, (I think this entire blog post has been about defining success and the path to it by yourself) but it does mean that the more you think and act out of the bigger picture, the happier you'll be (and probably the quicker you'll achieve your success).
This week 3 of #52in52
ps: thanks to Jay Frank and Nathan Dohse for the great conversation this week and inspiring this post… smart and talented dudes