Because your suffering is incredibly safe.
You like to be safe.
We’re all hard-wired that way, you know.
Thousands of years ago the species that took unnecessary risks were obliterated. The crazy species didn’t survive but the species who could find the safest way of living survived long enough to have kids. The more kids they had the stronger the herd became.
Safe equaled survival.
Safe equaled healthy.
Get it? You’re wired up that way.
Now think about how incredibly lucky you are.
It’s not 1654.
You’re not a serf.
You’re not a slave.
You’re relatively healthy.
You get to eat whenever you want.
You’re living a life of unprecedented freedom.
You are safe.
So why do you love to suffer when it comes to your art?
Because it’s safe.
The story you tell yourself is that nobody in this crappy industry wants to buy your kind of music or art from a person like you. You’re an outsider. Until they “let you in” you’re going to stand over her with the rest of the ignored artists and suffer.
It’s tribal too.
This way of thinking is tribal.
Can you see it now?
Sitting around at a coffee shop complaining to your friends about how hard it is to get a leg up in this business is what really makes you happy.
If this is what you do, the prior statement is TRUE.
When an artist sits around and says, “I don’t even know how to get started” or “I’m an artist and I have no idea how to get my art to the market” or “I can’t find any band members” it’s because they’re not really interested in being successful.
That would require vulnerability. Vulnerability is change. Change equals threat. Threat equals fear.
Better to be safe.
This is who they are.
Is this who you are?
These artists love to rehearse the story about how they’re on their 10th musical project and nobody cares.
They LOVE telling the story.
I’ll share a personal lesson. I dated this beautiful woman for about 2 years. She was a small-town girl, which I liked. She was a teacher and loved her job. She had 2 beautiful daughters (whom I love dearly) and a wonderful relationship with her ex-husband based entirely on being the best parents they could be. But she was an angry alcoholic.
For whatever reason, she was unhappy with herself and these demons would surface after the 4th drink or so.
To be fair, I like to drink too, but I’m not hostile.
I let this relationship go on way too long. Finally, I left after 6 major meltdowns in 1 short month; 3 of them involved her getting violent. This is an interesting and scary place to be for a man. No matter what, if things ever got out of hand, I would be the one going to jail. Thankfully I left before that ever happened but I had to put a stop to it.
I sought help trying to connect the dots on this one.
Why the hell did I stay for so long? Especially when I knew she was angry and very jealous which doesn’t bode well in my business.
The story I was telling myself was that I was in love with her.
But how could I (or anyone else) truly be in love with someone who hurts them so deeply physically and emotionally?
The reality is this: I was in love with the idea of who I wanted her to be.
The other reality was that she had absolutely no interest in becoming that person. She wanted to be who she was and she was unapologetic about it.
She was happy being miserable for some reason.
Once I learned that truth, I moved on emotionally and I improved.
In all actuality, your life is safe. You don’t worry about food, shelter, or water. You can have kids if you want, maybe you already have them.
Your hardwired desire to procreate is taken care of.
Don’t you think it’s time to take a risk?
Why play the game of the suffering artist?
Why fall in love with the idea of being a full-time artist but choose to suffer instead?
I get it, there is WONDERFUL protection in that but it’s a game, isn’t it?
Today is a day where you don’t have to ask anybody’s permission to make your art.
Music can be distributed to potential fans for free and without anyone else’s authorization.
Do you tell yourself, “I’m an artist, therefore I don’t want to know about marketing”?
Do you feel that marketing is gross or dirty?
Does the idea of making your music and having to market it to leave a bad taste in your mouth?
Why is it that when artists think of marketing they think of slimy used car salesmen?
The same marketing tactics in the music industry that brought the world’s worst records and artists into your awareness also brought us the amazing music that changed our lives forever.
You have your favorite records. You know, the ones that inspired you to become an artist in the first place. The ONLY reason you have them is because someone did a good job of making you aware of them.
I have news for you. If you’re one of those artists who’s suffering story includes lamenting about the old music business and how radio and record labels would break you, that’s an illusion as well.
Yes, record labels would develop artists but only if THEY liked you, but only if there wasn’t some other bigger potential artist to get behind. Hopefully, that dynamic didn’t happen after you were signed.
Oh, and you still had to be a salesperson.
Yes, radio tours are all about salesmanship. You find yourself bowling with the staff of a radio station and you don’t like bowling but you go because you want them to like you and spin your single.
You’d have to sell the rest of the record company on the idea of YOU. One champion, even if they had signing power wasn’t enough to move a record label to perform for you. You need everyone on board. But that required selling. There are plenty of artists who were signed by the owner of the label but they’re sitting on a shelf because the staff doesn’t get it.
Media days lasted 12-14 hours where you’d be on the phone with every single printed fanzine on the planet answering the same stupid questions over and over and over and over again.
Oh, you had to be a salesman alright.
Why would that be “different” if you had to be a salesman with a label deal but intolerable as an indie artist?
Why are so many artists refusing to do covers on YouTube for fear of being categorized as a “cover artist” but they’re perfectly willing to compete on American Idol (which is coming back) or The Voice?
Because NOT doing what is required to get your music out there means you get to continue suffering.
Suffering is safer than success.
Seth Godin tells book writers, “Write your first book and email it in a nicely assembled PDF file to 100 people. If it’s good it’ll reach 10,000 people and you’ll have no problem selling your second book. If it sucks, you’ll know because nobody would have bought it anyway so It doesn’t matter.”
Seth also states that exactly zero people have taken him up on that offer.
You’re safe. Deep Down you know you’re safe.
Start risking some bad feelings to find out how good you really are. If you really want to be an artist, you’ll learn to be better.
Who knows, maybe you could be good enough to make a decent living at it.
Your audience is out there.
You can reach them for free.
But you enjoy the suffering better.
Suffering is an easy life to live but it’s not extraordinary. Stories of success are inspiring and fulfilling.
Which one are you?
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