Last time, I had alluded to the things that I have found to be important to having success as an artist and in particular as a musician: story telling, willingness to learn, persistence, curiosity, and kindness.
Charisma is the ground zero for most musically inclined people. They have irreplaceable character and on some primal level also have a desire to tell stories. How often do we see the story tellers of antiquity accompanied by music? Exaggeration thrives on sound and motion. The favorite musicians of the masses are not typically the most musically inclined, but the most intriguing to watch perform and the ones that can take you off on a voyage through your imagination when their records play.
I like to compare this to what happens when people who have heard me play in an open mic see me perform with my band. In an open mic, you get to see me rock out and it’s probably really cool. Once the band is involved and we’re all interacting on stage, suddenly I seem even better because there’s more happening visually.
Intelligence is oft measured by the ability to take in new information. Willingness to learn how to do your craft better is how you get the greats. They didn’t start off great, they worked at it and worked at it and they studied their predecessors as much as their contemporaries to get the best angle on creating the future. Sometimes I look back at where I was not even 10 years ago and the longing for summer to just keep going washes over me. I thought I was smart, and that I was a good musician, but I was very closed minded…
I had no clue how many tools are necessary for a good release like merchandise, videos, flyers, an EPK, well mixed & mastered recordings, a press release to my target audience, and more. Not to mention I really wasn’t as good as I thought I was.
The thing that eventually got me started on looking for ways to break my own boxes was when I stumbled on the philosophy of constant change. Just as the seasons must continue their cyclical dance, this moment will always have something different than the ones before and those that come after. At that point I had the epiphany that for a time I had done well for myself and then I became lazy because I had it in my head that I was done improving as a person. It’s kind of scary to look back and realize that that idea was fairly concrete in my head but I’m thankful that it is no longer real.
In a sense, willingness to learn and curiosity are kind of the same thing. So maybe more so than mere curiosity is passion. There has to be a fire burning within that compels you to fight off all of the doubters and the naysayers and just do what you do. I just find that having a curious nature about a subject tends to be what heightens the passion for it.
What do you think about all of the time, you know, that thing that can keep you up until 2AM on a weekday…
Well, actually, it’s probably something other than THAT! Stop being perverted, you know what I mean. Whatever real thing that is for you, the curiosity you have for it is the seed of the passion and it will grow into a vibrantly unique passion tree if you nurture it. Curiosity and willingness to learn could put you on a path that turns you into a great story teller if you’re not already. No matter the passion, networking and kindness will help it expand.
In my mind, kindness is a kind of double edged sword, you can be as nice as you want but some people are looking to cheat people and others just can’t be helped. Don’t let that lock you up in your bedroom or your garage, because for every person that tries to stomp on your dream is a sad soul that gave up. Every person who is just so oblivious as to how to stop getting in their own way is a soul that hates asking for help and really just wants to get it right this time. When it comes to music, kindness matters a lot. This topic reminds me of a former friend of mine who is one of the best guitar players I’ve ever imagined.
We actually lived together for a while and we put together some music that touched my soul it was so good. Unfortunately, we hit a point where I felt the need to use the same kinds of mannerisms he would use on me back at him. At which point we stopped being able to be friends and the music became unrecorded memories. I think about those moments and those songs with the kind of sadness that makes you smile in fondness of a lost loved one. Despite our differences, we did agree on how important it is to keep doing music.
Persistence is basically the rough and tumbled way of eventually getting around to all of the other things. It will be your friend through those moments when you don’t feel like being curious or when you’re certain that you’re the best thing since ever. At the end of the day if you don’t stick with it, it will be like thoughts of summer in October.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this rant, and I hope to see you at a show sometime. Part III of this will delve into somethings I’ve learned about being a musician that are more on the business side.