Happiness is a byproduct, not a destination.
Happiness is a learned skill. (And it’s never too late to learn)
How many times have you heard this before?
Do you believe it?
Do you get it? Really?
You’re not going to “find” happiness like the Galapagos Islands.
It’s easy then to extrapolate that happiness in your artist career is also a byproduct of behavior and not a destination.
You’re not going to find happiness and success with that one amazing connection.
Yes, you hear the stories an artist’s “one big break” but that big break happened on several levels as a byproduct of a life spent working diligently on something.
They were noticed because of the work they were doing.
They were prepared to walk through the newly opened door for the same reason.
Brent and I were discussing a similar thought on one of the C.L.I.M.B. podcast episodes. We were talking about the stories of a super hit song that “wrote itself” in like 10 minutes. The reality is that it most certainly did NOT take the songwriter 10 minutes to write that song.
It took their whole life PLUS 10 minutes.
Y’all know that I devour Gary Vaynerchuk content. His interview with Jewel in episode 238 of the Gary Vee Show was incredible.
This woman has a story that I wanted to share with you all.
You’re going to love it because it’s incredibly inspiring.
You’ll hate it because her story will leave you with zero excuses.
We’ve all been broken before and we’ve all had people or have people that try to break us.
Jewel has overcome all of that.
She didn’t let life’s horrible speed bumps make her a victim or a statistic, but it almost did.
She moved out when she was 15 years old because her dad was being abusive.
She moved to San Diego a couple years later but she was disenfranchised by the music scene because the coffee houses were “pay to play”. She didn’t get it. She didn’t see how the coffee shop could steal the artist’s energy and soul for a few hours and offer only tips in return.
Now, she was 18 and her boss wanted to sleep with her but when she refused, he withheld her paychecks.
She thought to herself, “I’ll just sleep in my car for a month or two until I find a new gig.” This move was good for her soul but left her homeless for 18 months.
Jewel mentioned that during this time she was shoplifting quite often and on one occasion caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror.
She was disgusted.
She had become the very thing she promised she wouldn’t become; a statistic.
This is the pivotal moment that I want you all to think about.
You’re suffering in some ways.
We all suffer in some ways.
I agree with Jewel in that it’s a gift to be allowed to struggle because this is where the successful find the tools they need to cope.
Coping tools give us the instruments we need to continue productivity and work through the suffering as humans and as artists.
I lost everything in the 2008 financial meltdown.
I rebuilt and moved forward. It sounds easy but there were many times that my soul was violently careening on a current of negative energy.
It was my thought processes that got me off that river.
Buddha says, “Happiness does not depend on who you are or what you have, it depends on what you think.”
I’m sure that WAY too many of you are hung up on who you are and what you have.
Some of you feel because you’re very talented you should be happy.
That’s called entitlement.
Some of you feel that new guitar (thing) will make you happier but it’s just a possession, just a “thing”.
Some of you feel that a person will make you happier.
That’s called co-dependency.
The reality is that Buddha is right. Duh. Happiness is all about what you think.
Personally, losing everything, which is MONUMENTALLY scary to think about but even more terrifying to endure, was the greatest gift I ever received.
I found out that my things and my relationships don’t define me.
I also am no longer scared of losing everything because I’ve lived through the worst financial and personal catastrophe.
Yes, it totally sucked but I know I can handle it. I can always innovate my way out of trouble.
During Jewel’s homeless period, she found a coffee shop that was going out of business. She struck a deal with the owner (who had nothing to lose really) by offering to help build a steady following for the business with her performances.
Suddenly, Jewel found herself at another crossroads; she only knew cover songs.
Songwriting was going to have to happen and quickly.
Talk about profound, Jewel said that she was lonely and many people are lonely so she could connect with them that way lyrically.
She also said that she deserved to be lonely because she only told the truth in one place which was a notebook that nobody read.
It was time to talk openly about her truth and take a risk to be vulnerable. This is a milestone that most indie artists seem to miss.
Easier to be derivative than it is to be vulnerable. Maybe you have a lot of talent but because you’re failing to be truly exposed you’re not getting the attention you think you deserve.
Maybe you don’t deserve any attention right now? Did you ever think about it that way?
I have news for you, It’s your TRUTH that will separate you from the crowd and make you special.
The songstress thought to herself fear is a thief. It takes the past and projects it into the future and robs you of the only opportunity you have to create real change; which is RIGHT NOW.
Y’all need to create change in your marketing.
Most artists aren’t thinking about or acting on any kind of marketing.
Which is why you hurt.
Here’s an illustration of how bad it is.
I was just at a new record label showcase last week. One of the artists that played this event was a Curb Records artist. He was an amazing R&B act, I was familiar with his last song even though I don’t spend much time listening to that genre (that should tell you something) but his social media sucked.
Literally half of my artists have MUCH larger and far more engaged communities in their respective social media communities than this major label artist. I find this to be true amongst all artists, signed or not. Unless their famous, their social media is usually seriously lacking.
He’s clearly relying on the record label to bring him to market which is sad. We’re down to a few major labels precisely because they’re not sure how to bring an artist to the market anymore.
With her head on straight, Jewel goes to work writing and starts to play the coffeehouse shows.
Her first show had 2 people.
Next had 7 people.
A few months later there were people standing in line around the corner just to hear her sing.
The packed coffee house was a byproduct of her thinking at first, and then her actions.
Someone bootlegged a live recording of her and the San Diego radio station started playing it.
Soon she was a highly requested artist and the labels came-a-calling.
This is another pitfall I see so many of you fall into. You’re waiting to be discovered.
Jewel went out and found her audience, and just like I always preach, the industry found her.
She was offered a record deal but she was going to be releasing a folk record in a grunge market.
How would she cut through?
The label offered her a 1-million-dollar advance but she turned it down. Instead, she used the advance to buy (renegotiate) a much better back-end deal on her contract.
Again, guts, knowledge, understanding. She read one book and found out the advance was recoupable.
She broke through before the social media age because of her brain. Yes, the abundant talent was there but her audience was only made aware of it because of the way she thought.
Does that make sense?
Gary Vee said, “Your fans got there and gave a crap because of you, and then they took over.”
Do you see where I’m headed with this?
The artist must start the fire. You carefully cultivate the first 1,000 Superfans and then they will take over.
Gary immediately followed that quote with, “What my fans do now is insane, the level of love, but it started with I LOVE THEM FIRST.”
You give to receive.
If you focus on making other people happy, on providing value to them first, you’ll learn how to be happy.
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