Are You Confusing Activity With Achievement?
I see people confusing activity with achievement all the time.
I’ve seen it my whole life in all the industries I’ve been a part of, but it’s rampant with the millennials and musicians.
They confuse activity or “trying” with achievement. Your artist career won’t blossom without achievement. No matter how much time you spend trying or how much you want it, you’ll go nowhere without results.
You must adapt. IT’S ALL ABOUT ADAPTING.
How do you adapt? You take what you have and you work with it. Adapting has nothing to do with complaining about what you don’t have, that’s the very definition of NON-productive.
Improvising, adapting, and overcoming is what defines achievement.
You can have excuses or you can have results but you can’t have both.
It’s NOT ok to complain about where you are in your career if you’re creating excuses as to why you can’t get what you want.
Humans, by nature, are THEE most adaptable species on the planet. We can think, reason, and imagine.
Visualize a cave-man and what their life was like every day. Survival meant working within your surroundings to achieve what was necessary for shelter, food, water, protection, etc.
This may sound silly but follow me on this. When a lion is born it instinctively knows how to hunt. Same with fish. Same with all animals, they are born wired up to know how to survive.
But not humans.
When we’re born we instinctively know how to suck, but…
We LEARN how to speak.
We LEARN how to hunt.
We LEARN how to gather.
We LEARN how to tie our shoes.
We LEARN how to play an instrument.
We LEARN how to be an artist.
We LEARN how to market.
Don’t fool yourself, you may hate the sound of the word “marketing” but you do it every day. Whenever you try to convince anybody of anything. From selling a piece of musical equipment to convincing a friend about who the best singer is on the planet, you’re marketing. Convincing new members to join the band or a buddy to give you an extra hour in the studio, that’s marketing.
We must also LEARN to be self-aware about our art. Your mother will love it no matter what, so you’re foolish if you run with only that opinion. I think of the horrific zero-talent wannabes at the beginning of every American Idol season. Wow, it’s like so many people lied to them or something.
Yes, art is subjective but it’s also objective. There is a level of competitiveness that must be met. There is no market for the finger-paintings of 3-year-old children but they’re adorable nonetheless. You can hate on artists like Poison and Brittany Spears but you can’t deny that they’re well done and they sell way more than you do.
All art that has been put forth into the world was a result of an artist adapting to their surroundings and learning to create something.
Many if not most artists have overcome incredible challenges, pitfalls, setbacks, extreme poverty, racism, naysayers, haters, physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, etc. to get their art out to the world enough so that we’re aware of it.
This is humanity. This is the definition of being human; ADAPTING.
So, it pisses me off when I hear artists complain about why they can’t do this or that.
Saying you can’t do it is saying you won’t do it. Either you don’t want it bad enough or you don’t have the constitution to stay in the game. This is what the artists you hate had; constitution.
Growing for any human means you’re going to be uncomfortable.
If your goal is to be comfortable, that’s fine, but stop telling yourself that you’re going to make a dent in the universe and be comfortable at the same time.
Comfortable is easy. That’s a vapid 9-5 working to realize someone else’s dream.
Achievement and growth are by definition, uncomfortable. Think about it, you’re constantly elevating to uncharted waters. Remember how you felt the first day of high school? Those lockers were so big, weren’t they? That was a far different feeling from the last day of high school.
You were forced to achieve in school or face being held back.
Now, nobody’s forcing you. Are you feeling a bit too comfortable?
I remember when the people directly around the Allman Brother Band brought my band down from Wisconsin to Florida to develop us.
Step one was the band had to move to Florida. We walked toward the light with nothing but each other and promise from this dude to help us get to the next level. There were no promises of an outcome and zero promises of cash. We were on our own.
How would we survive? I didn’t know when we left, but we all took a chance and found our way.
By the way, is moving ever comfortable? Then you add the fact that we were flying by the seat of our pants and it takes uncomfortable to whole new level.
Of course, we were young and I had it all figured out, man, just ask me. We needed to get a killer record, get on MTV, and go on tour to make it. EZPZ.
Then I saw Warren Haynes play guitar in the studio during the first of what would be hundreds of hours of access to the band. At that moment, a nuclear bomb was dropped on my ego and my sense of accomplishment.
I left the studio so demoralized because I had just witnessed “great” first hand and compared to that, we sucked. That was catastrophic.
That moment lead me to a crossroads of sorts. It was decision time. Do I choose to make excuses as to why we’ll never be like Warren Haynes and The ABB so I can continue to live my comfortable yet delusional artistic existence? Or do I become uncomfortable and accept the reality that we had a LOT more work to do. [KGB Pic]
If you really want to be an artist, you live here. Nobody cares about a comfortable artist because they’re boring.
Artistically you’re compelling or you’re not. I think you all believe that you are compelling but the fact is most of you are not.
Not yet, anyway.
What is unknown (and controllable to the artist) is how many artists have the guts to push so hard they’re constantly uncomfortable. Who will continue to adapt and eat all the challenges of the everyday indie artist life for breakfast?
Because every artist has boatloads of challenges.
A real artist is constantly adapting, learning, and growing, therefore they live in a perpetual state of restlessness.
Of course, once you’re on the right track with your art you must LEARN how to get it out there. The good news is you no longer need anyone’s permission to do this. The bad news is YOU have to do it.
Unlike a lion who is born instinctively knowing how to hunt and survive, you, the artist, has to LEARN how to market. It’s not going to come to you in your sleep.
If you can’t afford to hire someone to do it for you, then you’ll have to pay to learn how. That means recording less music and spending that part of the budget on marketing education.
Oh, and hundreds of hours getting your learning curve up.
To do anything differently is idiotic. It means you’re choosing to live in a state of delusion telling yourself lies about why your career is stagnant.
“But learning about marketing makes me feel uncomfortable and I don’t like feeling uncomfortable.”
“But marketing makes me feel like a used-car salesman. I don’t want to come off looking or sounding like that.”
Believe me, nobody wants to buy from anybody like that either. You must change the story you’re telling yourself in your head and learn how to market effectively to AVOID being sales-y.
Thousands of artists and businesses effectively market to you every day. Did you feel like Budweiser was being “sales-y” during the Super Bowl commercial with the puppy and the Clydesdale horses?
Again, that’s not going to come to you in your sleep. So, every day you’re not learning is another day your career is stagnant.
Artists must rethink, reimagine everything because the market has changed.
Artist first then the music. Sorry, that’s the truth. Get over it and start constructing strategies to address this reality. I promise you’ll see immediate results in your fan base.
STOP asking yourself these questions:
“How can I get a record deal?”
“How can I get on the radio?”
START asking yourself these questions:
“Where is the traffic coming from?”
“How can I connect with them?”
Just focus on building your audience and everything will fall into place after that.
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