I want to promote a paradigm shift. I want to help you create something that is fulfilling. Sometimes we get so focused on writing something that we think others will like that all we’re doing is focused on our next release. And during all of this we’re not even having fun when we write music! I mean, I could be wrong here, but isn’t the point of doing this because we LOVE doing it? AM I WRONG, THOUGH?!
Let’s do a quick check and find what our reason is for what we’re doing. We can do this in all aspects of our life. For example, it can be with work or working out. It can be in a relationship that we’re fighting to keep alive. We have to ask ourselves, what is our why? 🙂
Let me assure you of something. Instagram likes do not reflect listens, and listens do not reflect success or movement forward.
“But Dean, what about…”
NO! You’re wrong! Haha, we need to change how we make music! It’s not working, it never has worked.
Here’s the truth. Most of us musicians will not break through and have the same level of influence that your favorite artist has. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find fulfillment or inspire someone else to create. It doesn’t mean you’re not affecting your community (and in my not so humble opinion, thereby affecting the world).
Take a long at your catalog right quick. Do you have anything in there that you are super proud of? Do you have a song that you love the production on as well as the writing? Maybe not! Maybe the reason you feel anxious and unsure of what you’re doing in life is because you haven’t actually done that much of what you love to do.
AND THAT’S OKAY!
We are all working so hard for more likes and listens, but you can literally pay for that.
Just let that sink in real quick.
It sounds dirty, but who gives a shit if it is? If all you’re going for is a number, than why the hell not pay for it? Are you really writing, recording and playing for a number next to your song on Spotify? It’s okay if you are, just understand that the NUMBER is your personal motivation.
Think about this, are you listening to music right now? Are you really processing what you’re listening to? What is the value of a like or a spin? When you see something on Instagram, do you stop and think to yourself, “Wow! This is incredible!” Or are you just mindlessly thumbing through photos and quickly tap what stops you for 5 seconds? Are you always consciously picking your music?
If you, as a musician, are autopiloting like this, how do you expect anyone who is NOT a musician to feel that way about you?
So if it seems, at least for the most part, to be an unconscious scroll or listen, why do we put so much importance into that number?
- Earnestly ask yourself these question. What does one like or listen represent to you? If you’re playing at home, say your answer out loud. Don’t say it out loud if you’re at a coffee shop. Just do more than think, “hmm?” actually have an answer here.
- Does one like mean more than another?Meaning if the girl you have a crush on or John Mayer’s bassist likes your post. Does it mean more than if your friend from high school likes your post?
- If it is different, why is it different? Please explain how it is to yourself?
- Is there a number in your head that you have to get to before it means something to you? There isn’t a wrong answer here.
- Are you basing that number off someone else? Damn?!?! I’m hitting it hard this post! Y’all suck, and I’m not letting it happen no more. Haha, obviously I’m kidding. I have a number in my head, and I might just be the most guilty one here.
If your answer is, “I only need to affect one person.” That’s very noble, and you’re better than me, and if you’ve created music that can be heard, then you’ve already done your job!
If you want to be famous, then look no further than this post I made a few months ago on the odds of that happening.
Spoilers, it’s not looking good.
You want to affect as many people as you can in your community?? Well, now we’re talking, baby! We have control over that, and there are tips and tricks to help sell that, and they’re all over the internet!
Let me tell you something you already know. To make it to the next level, you have to actually be on a level. You don’t just come from nothing. Labels want you to have a fanbase before they touch you with a 75-foot pool noddle.
Now that you’ve established what those numbers mean to you.
Do you even love what you’re doing? Are you doing it because you don’t want to quit on a childhood dream? Here is how you gauge if you are.
Think about your favorite part of the process. Not your favorite memory. Your favorite part of the process. Is it writing? Recording and production? Performing? Promoting? Hanging out with friends? Is it that feeling after the show? Is it the idea of being an artist, or the attention that you get with music?
That last one is not a bad thing and can be part of every answer up there. But if that’s your FAVORITE part of it, I mean there are a lot of different ways you can make that happen that aren’t so stressful.
If you don’t fit in any of those categories, that’s okay too! Seriously, it’s okay! It’s okay to ask yourself why you are doing something. If you don’t love it, or even kind of enjoy it, you can still do it, but not put so much weight into it!
If you list a top five favorite things to do for working and you get into the top 5 things you want to do, and you hit number two or five! Then you did better than 95% of the population!
Don’t have ANY idea of what else to do? That’s okay! All that means is you should go out and try some new things!
If you love creating and/or performing, let’s be active in changing how we do things!
I’m really trying to get into this mindset of not rushing to get the next song out and instead rushing into the studio because I LOVE THAT PART OF IT. I love creating! I also love performing, but creating is where it’s at for me right now! I think about it almost all day, and even if I don’t make money doing it, I will do it till I die (or hate doing it).
You won’t be missing out if you DON’T dedicate 100% of your time to it. You’re missing out if you DO dedicate 100% of your time to it. Life is HUGE! You can love doing so many different things! Art grows for experiencing as much of it as you can!
There are a lot ways to make money playing music. Ask yourself if hanging on to that goal; to do it no matter what it looks like, no matter what you’re playing, or creating… ask yourself if that’s really what you want? Do you want to be playing in a Chuck E. Cheese tribute band? (Ok, maybe a little extra there) Are you okay being a number two, or five in the band? Are you okay learning as much as you possibly can to make yourself the best canidate for the situtation?
Sure sometimes you have to make concessions, but you should know you enjoy that part of what you’re doing! You don’t have to give it up, you’re just changing your focus on what you’re thinking about/doing all the time. There’s not an ounce of shame or guilt in that!
If you feel like you’re just rushing to get something out because you haven’t released something lately, you need to change the way you think! If you focus on creating what you want to write, you’re going to be so much happier.
Maybe not as many people listen to your music as you hoped, it’ll be okay! It’ll be okay because you did it for you, and that is under your control.
I promise you it’s okay to not have a sure answer right now. But if you’re not doing something with this stuff “every day” – or even often, then do you really want to put all your eggs in this basket? Maybe you can create/play music as a side gig and do that forth favorite thing that you love to do as a moneymaker! Even doing this, you can make some GREAT art!
Just for the love of God, stop putting so much pressure on yourself, and HAVE FUN doing what you LOVE!
I love you! I know that sounds cheesy, but this stuff can be stressful. I can’t imagine a world without you in it! I don’t want to! We all need to be able to unload that stress and feel like we are being validated and heard, and I want you to know that if you need someone, I WANT TO BE THAT PERSON! If you don’t want to talk with me, reach out to a family member, a friend, OR EVEN A PROFESSIONAL! Please, please reach out for help! I did, and it changed my life for the better. I’m not white-knuckling life anymore. I’m so happy we get to share this world! I love you! I will write again soon!
The artist of the week is Neutral Waves! Love these guys (I am a little bias because I sing for them!)