I don’t want you to be delusional about your talent.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Resignation is confirmed desperation.”
I believe that everyone has a genius, and most people are busy working on something that has nothing to do with their genius simply to pay the bills and fall in line with societal norms.
There lies the quiet desperation.
I also know that many of you are suffering in your artist careers because you are too busy focusing on the wrong thing. You’re forcing something you think you’re good at while ignoring your real genius.
The lack of results from this approach creates an abyss of frustration and despair that eventually engulfs an artist like The Gorge of Eternal Peril from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
I want to touch on the idea that many of you are leading lives of quiet desperation simply because you are delusional about what Tai Lopez calls your “signature strength”.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that you’re delusional about your ability to make a living as an artist. I’m saying many of you have to identify, evaluate, and build a career on your signature strength so you CAN make a living as an artist.
You must build success on your strengths.
You do what you can to strengthen your weaknesses to be well rounded, but you don’t create the empire on something that is artistically dim.
The artistic misunderstanding is prevalent in many of the American Idol contestants. They are delusional that their signature strength is vocal prowess, which is what American Idol is ALL ABOUT.
Why do they not see that most of the very judges they seek to impress could not win on this show?
They played to their signature strengths, that’s how.
I’ll give you a couple examples of what I’m talking about.
As many of you already know, I was an artist in the late 80’s and through half of the 90’s. I was in a hair band called Kidd Gypsy. I toured for roughly 7 years of my life making a living recording and playing music.
Here’s the thing, Kidd Gypsy took TONS of vocal lessons so we could dominate on our harmonies.
We liked big harmonies and we DID dominate.
The vocal lessons were good for me as a front man so I could sing in tune enough to keep the crowd (I always joked that I “clawed my way to middle management in the vocal talent sector). My strength was not in my vocal chops (I really didn’t have any), rather my vocal tone and my ability to perform live and entertain people.
I could sell the lyrics on stage.
I could sell the sex appeal on stage.
Mick Jagger was never going to win any vocalist of the year awards either.
Let’s go one step further, I also was aware that because of my weakness in the vocal department, the harmonies would bolster the strength and appeal of our band.
All the songs had big vocal harmonies in the choruses which diverted attention from the fact that while I was (usually) singing in tune, the melodies were much more powerful with harmonies arranged around them than they were if I sung them alone.
Harmonies WORKED for us.
Johnny singing alone, didn’t.
The hair band genre was built on guitar Gods; shredders is what they used to call them.
I absolutely LOVE the shredders like Eddie Van Halen, George Lynch, Randy Rhoads, etc.
I always wanted to be a shredder.
I practiced incessantly when I was a kid.
I didn’t have the right hand, man.
Alas, I was never going to be a shredder.
There was a number of years where I lamented the fact that I couldn’t be a shredder.
I was depressed.
See my point?
I got good enough to where I added musical value to the band and my style of playing actually complimented Darrell’s (our lead guitar player) panache quite nicely.
Once I came to the realization that my signature strength was not going to be shredding on the guitar, the quiet desperation dissipated quickly and gently into the night.
What are you lamenting?
Have you considered the possibility that you may be frustrated because you’re focusing on a weakness instead of a strength?
What have people (including strangers) always complimented you on your entire life?
Build on that.
I know for a fact many of you are focused on not focusing when it comes to your “sound” or your genre.
I hear it all the time, “Dear Johnny, I love Reggae, Rock, Pop, R&B, Rap, and Country. I want to do all these genres and don’t want to ignore any of them.” “Can I make a record where each song is a different genre?”
At least not if you want anyone to care about it.
You really want to attend to your core competency, your signature strength, your real genius, etc.
Abide by the 5% rule.
You want to concentrate on whatever talent you have that would put you in the 95th to 100th percentile in a global competition.
Maybe you are in the top 5% in a globally competitive market when it comes to singing rock but you are not in country, reggae, R&B, etc.
You can’t be THAT good at writing, singing, and performing everything.
Michael Jordan, who is maybe the greatest basketball player of all time, thought his supreme athletic ability would translate well into baseball, because he actually loved baseball MORE than basketball (if you can believe that).
He sucked. Forget about the major leagues, he sucked in the minors.
In basketball he is considered a GOD among men.
In baseball, utterly forgettable.
David Lee Roth is one of my favorite rock star front men. He KNEW where his bread was buttered; a whiskey vocal tone, HUGE personality, and sex appeal. He’s never tried to pretend he could sing super rangy love ballads, so he was never artistically unfulfilled by pushing himself to do something he didn’t excel at.
Instead, he focused on this strengths. He dominated a live performance, and he kept his vocal licks to a limited blues range (on recordings) and did it with a stylistic flair that was different and cool, man. (The DLR vocal “Howls”, doubled on tape, were like a sex call to all women, SO FREAKIN’ COOL!!). He was, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest front men of all time, definitely in the top 5%.
Tom Petty isn’t going to blow you away with a 6 octave vocal range either. Listen to ANY Tom Petty song, he emphasizes simple, addictive melodies. Nothing too complicated or rhythmically busy (I won’t…baaack…down). He knows his strengths, and crafts his art to accentuate the positive.
What I’m saying is that you have to be honest with yourself and what your real talent is.
If you’re not getting the kind of traction you want, maybe you’re a little delusional.
Are you an artist that should be writing simple Petty-like melodies and you’re trying to be more complicated?
Are you trying to over sing ever line when note choice and delivery are going to make you more important?
Sometimes a simple change is all it takes to generate serious momentum.
In my first pro band, Idols of American Youth, I was a decent guitar player pretending to be a shredder. We were motivated, we were good, and we toured for a year with a front-man that had amazing vocal talent and ZERO personality.
Once I took over as the front man, catering to my strengths (I was a far better entertainer and songwriter), despite my lack of vocal ability, the world began to take notice.
We got a producer.
We were moved to Florida to be developed
We got management.
We got a booking agent.
We got radio spins.
We got press.
We got label attention.
Not for nothing, all this began happening really quickly once the lineup change was made and I began focusing on what I was REALLY good at.
Musicians could argue my band downgraded the vocal aptitude of the band when I began singing.
They would be right.
However, we upgraded our IMPACT and that changed our lives forever.
I want you to win.
Don’t resign yourself to being a second rate artist.
I want y’all to do some real deep thinking with this post.
The new music industry belongs to the genuinely talented.
This means you better know where you excel.
I want you to email me, Tweet me, Facebook me and let me know what is your signature strength?
PS: If you haven’t already downloaded my free Music Marketing On Twitter book, please enjoy it on me. Go to GiftFromJohnny.com put in your name and tell us where to send it. It’ll teach you how to get 1,000 new targeted followers every month for just 15 minutes per day.
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