Before the middle of this tragedy of a year, I was able to play a lot, and I was losing my voice ALL the time. I was constantly afraid that when I got up on stage, I wasn’t going to be able to sing half the songs I prepared for the show. I am always looking for tips and tricks to help my voice last a little longer. I recently was talking with Garrett (I feel like I’m always quoting him), and he passed on some information from a vocal coach, or doctor, or a witch… I can’t remember. Anyways I have the information online that backs it up.
And everyone knows, if you find it online, it must be true!
From UT Health – San Antonio – Long School of Medicine
Throat clearing is extremely traumatic to your vocal cords – causing excess wear and tear.
Bothersome mucous can cause people to have the sensation something is on their vocal cords that they need to clear off. The irritation and swelling produced by the throat clearing can cause saliva to sit in your throat. This causes more throat clearing. More throat clearing causes more stagnant mucus which causes more throat clearing, which causes more mucus, etc… A vicious cycle will ensue and the habit can be very difficult to break.
UT Health – San Antonio – Long School of Medicine
Putting this into practice
Begin by trying to suppress the throat clearing.
When the feeling is present, try swallowing hard or sipping on water.
If necessary, clear your throat silently — “huh”
Ask your doctor if a mucolytic or reflux medication would be helpful.
UT Health – San Antonio – Long School of Medicine
I started putting this into practice, and my voice lasts two to three times longer! WHAT?! sorry… i meant… what?
It’s true! Just the conscious effort to not clear my throat has drastically changed my life. Can it really be that big of a change for such a small thing? It has been for me. When you clear your throat, think of it as the equivalent of scream at the top of your lungs. It’s not good for you, duh!
So what happens when you REALLY need to clear your throat? I just hum a little bit, and it fixes this for me most of the time. If that doesn’t work, drink something, and it’ll help you every time!
What does Doctor Legs prescribe for your faltering voice? Lot’s of water EVERY DAMN DAY and stop clearing your throat.
Recently I hit a pretty big wall. I’m talking wall of china big.
I believe in the power of yes. I saw the movie YES MAN when I was a young lad, which left an impression on me. If you’re open to the world, the world opens up for you. Saying yes has changed my life for the better, and I wouldn’t change a damn thing about it.
Okay, but at some point, you have to say no. There are just not enough cups of coffee, not enough hours in the day, and not enough personal drive to keep you engaged and standing. You have to learn when to say no.
You have to say yes so often to get to the point where you can set up your boundaries and say no, I’m not able (or wanting) to do that.
It’s hard for me to admit that I can’t do everything that comes my way. I’m always afraid that it’s not gonna come back around, that I’ll never get the chance again, that this time it’ll be a huge break for me. But it NEVER is, and I always get another shot. It’s okay to push things back, it’s okay to say no to something, and even though that fear that this is my one shot hasn’t left me, it still is an irrational fear.
Well, where does this fear come from? It’s not going away any time soon. How do I learn to live with the fear that I might miss out if I say no?
Something that has been a great comfort to me realizes how much is going on in the world. How many opportunities actually exist every moment of existence. I mean, it’s astronomical! Hundreds of venues around you (most likely) looking for an artist to fill in spots every weekend (sometimes weekdays). What if you bomb a show? Well, it will happen someday, but just because you have a bad night doesn’t mean you won’t get another shot ever again. Sure we want to Carpe the shit out of a Diem, but that’s not how life works. It’s a lot of pain and growth. You only respect the person because they climbed that mountain. They were not born on the summit. If they were, well, who the hell cares then?
We often think of our lives as some special narrative epic, over the span of decades, with this incredibly rich chapter. The truth is far more boring. Most of the book is filled with hums and haws. Nothing really seems to happen, and so many times we miss that game-winning home run… simply to return home and NOT DIE, wake up the next morning and play the next game where we play nine innings with average batting.
The Power of Yes
Maybe you don’t have a problem saying no, and your boundaries are set in place. I admire your dedication to yourself. Within the confines of reason, I say it’s always a good idea to say yes the first time, to be open to some opportunity. After you have tried it out, you can judge if this is something you would like to continue with in the future. Sometimes that private event where you’re making a little less than you want to be making and playing Jimmy Buffet covers can lead to opportunities down the road. I have developed meaningful relationships playing gigs that I had no desire to play at first. Saying yes has changed my life.
Yes or Nah?
Once you have said yes, can you, should you say no? I believe that once you have committed to something, you should follow through with your obligation. Yes is a powerful word! It opens the world to you, it also can make you feel stuck. So before we blindly say YES to everything that could happen. A perfectly acceptable answer is, “I am very interested! I need to check my schedule and make sure that it’s plausible. I’ll get back to you shortly!” If someone pushes you to answer immediately, it probably has an issue you don’t want to involve yourself in. Respond promptly once you’ve weighed your decision and move forward.
How to say no to a friend
We’re often asked to do something we don’t want to do as a favor for a friend. “Hey, will you help me with blah blah blah” This can be tricky because we feel responsibility through loyalty, love, or pity (maybe all three at once)? How can you turn that person away when they need help? You can do it gracefully and with a fair amount of tact. There are a few different ways you can do this.
The first option is making up an excuse. This will work the first time you are asked to help out, but chances are this person will ask you again, and before you know it, you’ve spun a web of lies that would make Peter Parker tilt his head in admiration.
The second option is being extremely honest with that person. Telling them why you’re not interested in working with them. I have seen this work! It can also be messy! In a perfect world, people take loving-criticism well and respect your honesty. In my experience, this isn’t a perfect world, and even though your music community is big, it usually isn’t big enough to tear through someone.
Honesty is never rude. I spent a lot of time with a family who felt that honesty was a carte Blanche to be a dick. That’s not honesty. You need to work on tact and being a better person in the world. I believe that REAL honesty comes from a place of love. And I’ve heard every excuse under the sun to be rude to someone, but I’ve never heard a true reason, and I think I never will.
Option three is somewhere in-between, honesty, but not a detailed list of your schedule or reasons for not wanting to work with that person again. If we take a microscope to this logic, we’re really not helping that other person grow, but we are sparing feelings. Option two helps the other person grow by pointing out shortcomings that need to be fixed. Sometimes shortcomings are subjective. Sometimes they’re objective, and I think that really determines which route you should take. Not wanting to work with someone because you don’t enjoy playing behind/with them. I say, option three! Not wanting to perform with them because you don’t feel they treat you fairly for *fill in the blank* then option two seems appropriate.
“I want to spend time working on my own stuff, and I can’t put the creative energy or time behind your project and mine.”
There isn’t a person in this world that will get upset about this answer. It’s true, and it’ll get keep you out of anything you don’t want to be involved in. Thank them for thinking of you and trusting you to be involved in their work, be human, be compassionate! Then don’t bring it up again and move on with your life.
Still, feeling guilty, consider this? If you’re playing drums in a band you don’t want to be in, you’re just taking up space for someone who DOES WANT TO BE THERE! Ultimately you’re hurting the person by going along when you don’t want to be there.
I’m not saying you have to want to be there all the time to stay in a project. I think we all know the difference between helping someone out because you’re loyal and doing what you want to be doing because you’re getting something out of it.
There is a beautifully seductive intrinsic power in saying no. Remember that yes can open doors, and no can only give you power after you’ve said yes many, many times.
Sometimes you just gotta say no to the dress, you know?
I’ve been reading a biography from Sir Anthony Kiedis of THE red hot chili peppers, and I’ve discovered a few different things. First off, if you’re a famous male, you’re probably a horn dog, womanizer (albeit, very cool dude). Secondly, I learned this really cool trick that I want to try with my collaborators. Kiedis calls it “The face-off.”
Here’s how you play dudes and dudettes. When you’re having trouble finishing a song. You drop your instrument, get up in your fellow collaborator’s face, breathe in the same air (yes, even in the year 2020), and then go into separate rooms for five minutes to get your band un-stuck from the part of the song you can’t finish. After five minutes, both of the “contestants” renter the room, and the rest of the band votes on which part they like better. This means that whosoever writes, the better solution wins. Well, technically, the band wins because you’ve finished the song. Most of the time, Kiedis said they would find a way to fit both of the song’s freshly written parts anyways.
Okay, so you don’t have to do the first part if you have a personal space issue. But this idea is genius and tapes into the competitive nature that rests in each of us. We all want to win, and honestly, if you finish the song, even if you’re part doesn’t get used, you have still won!
It’s essentially Thunderdome for a song. TWO MUSICIANS ENTER – ONE SONG LEAVES
It’s a friendly, fun way to get those creative juices flowing. It’s also very quick and frees you up from the inventive damn that can inhibit us. It has the potential to hurt some ego, but we must remember that either way, you are winning! If you REALLY love that other part, you might even be able to create an entirely new piece of work (which is another thing that Kiedis said helped the group)!
Why should this work for you?
Well my theory is that even with the added pressure of time. It’ll be easier for you to come up with ideas when you’re alone. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I am writing 99% of stuff that goes through my head is absolute garbage. Most of the time I just need to vocalize/play my idea to a wall and make sure it’s a terrible idea, or let that terrible idea lead me to a good idea. A moment of solitude, and a quick turn around scheduled burst of creativity can go a long way.
Spencer and I always talked about doing this, but I never remember actually doing it. Next time you’re in town, cuz, let’s give this a “face-off” a shot. I would love to hear your stories on how this works, or doesn’t work, for you! Reply down in the comments or send me a message and tell me all about it!
Last week I ran into “the wall of china of getting stuff done.” I lost all of my drive and zest for progression. Don’t get me wrong; none of my anxiety left me. But I couldn’t for the life of me get anything I needed to get done. Well, I put on my big boy overalls and tried to find something that would get me going again, and through a random youtube video – I found my answer, and it has changed the game for me. The best thing is that it’s as easy as writing it down on a post-it note.
Actually, before I start into everything, I want to validate your feeling that sometimes responding to a text feels like running a marathon. Burn out is a real thing, it happens to all of us. It can come through different aspects of our lives. Lack of sleep, emotional stress from relationships, a bad diet, being unbalanced. All of these things add up to making the simple task of texting feel incredible hard. It’s okay that we feel that way. The first step to getting better is pinpointing a few of the things that are making us feel that way.
Every night before you rest your lovely head on your pillow (said “pehlow”), write down four things you need to get done tomorrow. My list looked like this –
Deep Clean Bathroom
Cut two songs from 80s night and text the band
Send Liam Video of Chord Changes
Renew Drivers License
Yes, this is my actual list.
When I wake up, one of these items is the first thing I do. Before coffee, before breakfast, before going to the – okay, well, my morning pee is the first thing I do.
Could you list more than four? Sure, but you shouldn’t. This is a restart of the system. If you’re crushing it and have a long to-do list that you’re always finishing, then keep on rocking in the free world, brother/sister dude.
If you’re like me and having a rough week, doing ONE item on the itinerary sucks a big old ***** ****. I have adopted the truth that doing four things is better than doing zero things and catching up on some broad city (loving that show right now, that’s for that referral, Garebare).
Your list can have something as simple as sending a text message. Is that a small task. Yes, but ten simple tasks piled on each other end up being one big mess.
You don’t have to share what you’ve done with anyone. It doesn’t have to be embarrassing. You know what you’re struggling to get done. Doesn’t have to clean out your inbox. You don’t have to finish that song. You just need to set a small goal and finish it. It would look more like this.
Write a version of the verse. (I don’t have to keep it)
It is PARAMOUNT that you actually write it out. if you just think about doing it and don’t write/type it out. You not do it and rest in the rut you’re in.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done. If you got ONE of those FOUR things done. You still got ONE thing done!
You know what you need to do, you little monsters. Go forth and multiply (that to-do list).
Do your lyrics suck? Yes? No? … Maybe? I don’t care! Today we’re going to talk about the best way to improve your ability to write lyrics and GOOD NEWS! It’s stupid easy… I mean, just STUPID easy.
Step #1 – Write something every day.
Step #2 –
It’s blank because there isn’t one. That’s all you have to do. To prove this, I will use the example of a genius in our time, Kendrick Lamar.
I was recently listening to a podcast about Kendrick Lamar (thank you for the recommendation, Echo). The podcast briefly goes over what makes Kendrick so damn good at writing. He wrote and recorded A LOT before he got big. It took years, literally years, to find his voice in writing and performing. Focused action is the essential part here. You have to actually write. Not just think about writing, not play other people’s stuff. You have to do it!
I also want to point out that it took him years to get to the point he’s at now. How long have you been actively writing? A couple years? Kendrick’s first mixtape dropped in 2003. The album that put him on the map was in 2012. That’s nine years of grinding! Did he write every single day? Probably not, but he wrote enough to say he wrote every day – does that make sense?
Will you be as big as Kendrick, Hell no. Even with his genius, he was lucky to be picked up. But you can make some waves, find a good audience, and have one helluva time will you’re writing, recording, performing today! You can be a true artist.
Okay, back to the subject of writing every day.
Does it have to be pen to paper?
Hell no! You have a notes app on your phone, you have voice to text. Use that if you don’t like physically writing things out. Are there other tricks to getting better? Sure there are! But you have to actually DO IT for any of that to work! This is how you get good, not by having a Rocky montage. No, it looks more like a boring documentary on how glue doesn’t dry in the container or stick to itself. It’s long and takes something like nine years.
Back to the Kendrick example, he wasn’t great like he is now when he started, duh. He just did it all the time till he got super good at what he does. He tried a bunch of things that didn’t work, even though at the time, he thought they would work!
Which brings us back to the simple fact that if you love doing this, you’re gonna be doing all the time. So if you want to actually be a full-time artist that creates for a living, this will feel boring, but natural to you. A lot of us say we want something, but we don’t ever do it. So we don’t actually want it, despite the words we speak. THAT’S OKAY! You can still say it, just don’t put the pressure on yourself to follow through.
Is burn out real? Yes, and you should be aware of that. But something simple like writing every day for a short amount of time will not cause burn out.
What should you write about?
That’s the fun part, my friends. You can write whatever the hell you want to write! It could be a blog (whoops, just outed myself), it could be poems, it could be trying to finish the lyrics to a song you started six months ago that you think you shouldn’t release. You don’t have to release it! Not everything you put time into has to be heard, that’s another post for another time though my friends.
Just remember this, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Write down something right now. Just go for five minutes, and I promise you that you’ll feel better, or nothing at all – meaning this was a waste of five minutes. You can bill me the time at
23452 Radical blvd
Mesa, AZ 85306
How did the greats get that way? They just did what made them great – every. damn. day.
Today’s post is kind of a “well, duh” post… most of you are already doing it. But, I changed my thought process a little, and it’s already helped me double my practice time!
A little bird told me (well, actually it was a big bird, Garrett Bowers) this incredibly easy trick to help motivate us to practice more. I have implemented it the past few days, and BAM, my practice time has doubled! It as easy as being lazy, and it goes like this.
Don’t put your stuff away.
Now some of you are probably already doing this. I am not great at doing it, but I have taken steps towards creating a space that isn’t always so shiny so that I can create something as soon as inspiration touches me.
Most of you will respect John Mayer’s opinion over mine, as well you should, I’ve heard him say a variation of this. “Keep one space (ONE – that’s the trick for you messy mother f***ers ) that you can feel free to create uninhibited by your desire to clean up your mess.”
Wait, maybe I’m the only one that feels that way. Most creative types are pretty freaking messy. Is that a stereotype? I don’t know. I wonder what a poll would determine?
Whatever the case may be… cleanly or messy, one easy trick to get you more active in your craft is by keeping your instrument in the open and easy to grab. Don’t put the guitar back in its case. Don’t put your canvas in the back of a filled closet. Maybe you’re trying to record? Have a corner of the room set up and ready to roll.
It’s the easiest hack you’ve probably already halfway done.
A Common Question:
Where is it appropriate to have your spot?
In the front room of your house? No.
In your roommate’s room? No!
Are you able to get in and out of the room without CRAWLING over things to the door? No?! Then you are doing it wrong.
Be real with yourself. Your house is NOT your messy corner. Let’s not go crazy here. I’m not even talking about being messy, really. I’m talking about having a space to leave the stuff you use out and is immediately accessible.
How accessible is “immediately accessible” – Well, it is instantaneous. If you cannot grab your guitar/pen/brush/donkey the second you think of it, you should adjust. – Okay, maybe not right now. But you get it, right? It should be on a stand; you shouldn’t have to unpack it.
I feel like drummers get this concept more than anyone else. Can you imagine putting your drumset up every day?! At that point, I wouldn’t be a drummer—too much work.
Treat this like any minor inconvenience will stop you from practice. Because most days it will. Be a diva, make it as easy as possible for you to get into gear. If you’re a guitarist, buy cheap stands and place them around your place. Writing lyrics, you have the note app on your phone. It is as easy as unlocking your phone and tapping that app.
The Test: Write out literally (in the boomer sense of the word) ANYTHING that keeps you from practicing.
My example: When I think of practice at my house, I know it sounds stupid, but I don’t want to have to get my pedalboard out. So if I write it out, I can see what’s the silly little thing that’s stopping me.
What makes it hard to practice.
Getting my pedalboard out
I don’t know what to practice
I am afraid of being loud and annoying my roommates
I don’t want to put it up
Now I address those issues. If I have my board out and ready to go, then my first issue is gone. For number two, if I plan out what I should be practicing (Scales, songs from upcoming shows), then that shouldn’t be a big deal. Where number three is valid, most of the time, my roommates aren’t home, and even if they are, they usually don’t mind when I practice. If they do mind, then I can move my schedule around and play when they are not home, or I could have a conversation with them and ask when it’s okay if I practice, which helps with this issue. Finally, number four, if I have a dedicated space, then I DON’T HAVE TO PUT IT UP!
Where is there a balance between the conservative cleanliness and the creative clutter? Hell yes, and I encourage you to find that sweet spot in your life.
Today’s lesson, be intentional in making it easy for yourself.
Today, I want to talk to you about something that has driven me nuts for years—this absurd need to be a purist with recording.
Only Purist Listen to Purist Music – If you’re a pop artist, why the hell would you pitch your music to a purist audience?
Obviously, I need to clarify. There isn’t anything wrong with being a purist. For those who don’t know what a purist is – the purist has varrying levels of playing the song start to finish, no punching in, no autotune, no plug ins, nothing “fake” (or post production) about it. There is something undeniably cool about that! I love the idea of it, no fear, nothing to hide or cover-up. It’s just a good song performed at an expert level.
Here’s the snag though, these bands/artists that do that. ALL THEY DO IS PLAY ALL DAY! Furthermore, they can dedicate a full WEEK to getting it sounding as close to perfect as their human hands will allow them to get. They’re not taking the third take here. They’re using take fifty-three. They practice their scales and shapes/theory every day. They are freaks! I’m not saying your not this! I honestly believe you can do that and get a beautiful, unique, and human sound, something you can’t get any other way.
BUT, and hear me out here… if you’re not putting in that time every day,then it’s going to be excruciating trying to get that take. Is it worth it? Sure! But ask yourself if that’s the real sound you’re looking for in the first place! Because make no mistake, it will have a certain sound even if you play it perfectly.
Let me phrase it this way.
You need to understand your audience. If you record as a purist, you need to pitch your music to purists – Almost exclusively. Because most of us want to hear pop/rock/blues/hip-hop/indie alt/etc music where everything is tight and in tune, and honestly, if you’re reading this post, you’re probably not at the level where you’re ready for that. I can say that because I’m not at that level, I’ve been frustrated in the past because I’m not getting that perfect take, and I end up settling for something that I don’t love because I’m using a purist engineer who likes that vintage sound and won’t comprimise.
If I don’t love it, how is someone else supposed to love it? I’ll tell you what, I’ll never really promote that damn thing. Which means I spent and wasted time and probably a lot of money. AND put a sour taste in my mouth with recording.
If it’s your first time recording DON’T record with a purist. You’re not ready for it, you want to enjoy recording kiddos! The name of the game is creation, not the rhyme, frustration… did I just write a citizen cope song?
Even in the concept of being a purist, you’re embracing the mistakes that will inherently be in the song! So why the hell are you so upset that the song isn’t coming out perfectly.
I think it’s the same way we look at our partners. Sure, at first, we just want the cute little mistakes. Like how you spend thirty minutes trying to decide on which movie to watch on Netflix. Or how he/she always does that funny thing where they say “Aćai wrong or insist that when they say a word adopted from a foreign country, they have to say it with origins accents. You know, the cute stuff. Unlike the racist uncle they have, or the fact they keep tabs on all your ex’s via Instagram. Or that insist that when they say a word adopted from a foreign country that they have to say it with origins accent… wait…
Is there a purist audience out there? Well, sure there is! If you are set on recording as a purist, you must remember that you need to pitch specifically to these folks! Because most people don’t want to have to guess where the two and four are in the song. I’m not saying that’s a positive or negative thing. I’m just saying it’s the truth.
Common things you will hear
Purists have more emotion in their recordings and are better able to connect with their audience.
I can’t say that this is untrue. Although, it’s not like you punch in, edit, or tune-up that you are not connecting with an audience. In fact, if something is so off, you will not be able to connect with anyone because your song is unlistenable. If someone is pitchy, it’s hard for me to listen to a song. If something is terribly out of time, I don’t want to listen to it. I don’t care how good a song is, if it doesn’t sound good, I don’t want to listen to it.
This is just my sound.
But if you touch up mistakes and play on the same field as others, is that not also your sound? What about the mistakes, small or big, makes it “your sound.” Now we could write a whole post on this concept. Actually, it’s quite fascinating to try to pinpoint that fineline. Why do we point at one thing and say “that’s perfect, that’s what we should strive for in art.” Music or otherwise… intriguing, this could get crazy, so lets reign it in. Would Ozzy have sounded like Ozzy if he had taken vocal lessons as a kid? So many songs have been written based off of a missed note that ended up defining a sound. Those mistakes are what have shaped the music soundscape, which we all now occupy. Should the final product still have the experimentation? Once again, depends on who you are trying to reach with your music. SO IS THAT OUR ANSWER TO THE FINELINE? Who’s to say it’s right or wrong? Well, every person that listens to your art will answer that question. So if you’re trying to reach a broader audience… it’s something to take into your careful consideration.
*I would love to pick your brain where you think that line of happy mistake/bad mistake is. Leave a comment or DM me and let’s talk! *
But Queen did it this way, so if I want to sound like them, so should I!
But Queen is a better band than you are! And why would you want to just rip off someone’s sound? Also, they have plug-ins that have settings to make you sound just like them. This isn’t an excuse to not practice or take a short cut. It’s just working smart guys!
Is it though? You’re eating up more studio time? And who are you recording with? In my experience the purist producers usually charge more. If the excuse is that the producers that have the nice plug-ins charge more because they have more equipment… I don’t know, in my experience this isn’t true.
I have a feeling that the reason most people resort to being purist because they don’t know how to engineer properly. They don’t have the plug-ins that they need or want and so they say, “Well, I just want it this way.” But you don’t! You’re lying, haha! I’m not going to say plug-ins are inexpensive. They can be really highly priced. I am saying that it’s worth the time it takes to learn your craft as an engineer or as a producer and give yourself the ability to make what you have in your head. I know we don’t always make it that easy for ourselves, we need to change that if we want to be at peace.
Above all else, you have to enjoy what you’re doing, you have to love creating your art. Why the hell are you torturing yourself? If you enjoy the purist route and it helps you create by sticking to a strict set of rules. Then, of course, do it! You will get a certain sound that you can’t duplicate any other way.
I just don’t want you to think that you HAVE to do it the purist way. Don’t let anything stop you from recording and making your art. Especially not some snobby opinion from some hipster barista POS.
Break it down like this, if you are not recording because “you are a purist” then, you’re doing it wrong, and you shouldn’t be a purist.
If that’s what the song requires. Well, put the time in son! You can do it, just put the time in!
The fast and loose life that walks hand in hand with fame (specifically, musicians). It just looks cool. I mean in the purest sense of the sentiment. It’s undeniably cool that Exile on Mainstreet was written purely on Heroin. I love that image in my head. But have you actually seen someone strung out before? It’s really not pretty, and it actually makes them really shitty at what they do! Take a look at this video of John Frusciante, (who is in contention for the greatest guitarist of the last generation) this is scary stuff, and honestly, he sucks in this video. Which is sad, because he’s normally mind-blowingly good.
Scary and sad.
Here’s a reference for how good he normally is
Scary (good) and not sad at all.
Now I have done just about everything you can do (much to the chagrin of my parents), so I don’t have a lot of room to talk. But I can say this, I never had an experience where I was intoxicated and wrote something better than when I was sober. I consistently write better when I sleep well and eat healthily.
I’m trying to push this point here. The image of a rockstar is just a marketing trick.
Close your eyes and think of the average night of your favorite artist? They’re probably having the time of their (and your) life. They also seem to have a superpower of being immune to the consequential effects of extreme and constant hedonism.
I want to point out that this is all in your head! It’s the same thing that happens you get cheated on. Your lame ass partner gets with someone, and in your mind, it’s they had the BEST SEX THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN. Seriously, they rewrote the Kamasutra, and their libidos will never be the same again. But in reality, it was just as awkward as the love you’re making right now. Holding your gas in, bumping heads, your breath kind of stinks, and what the hell is with that… that clunky moment you’re trying to get your pants off (they always skip that in the movies).
That was a long tangent. My point is that you don’t actually want to be a rockstar. You want to be perceived as a rockstar, but actually, be a musician. Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?
To get/remain in the game, you have to be at the top of your game, and YOU CAN’T DO THAT IF YOU ZONKED OUT OF YOUR MIND ALL THE TIME.
“But Bonham did it! But Mac Miller…” Yeah, and they’re dead! You really want to base your career off of someone who died that young?
Your success rests within you. The reason anyone has “made it” is because they just worked at it every day. Or they have money. Do you have money? No, then just work at it every day.
What does that look like? Is it that annoying kid that only talks about one subject? No. Is it dedicating five hours a day to running scales? I mean, it can be, but you’re probably going to want to smash your face against the wall from boredom. Okay, enough sass… every day looks like this!
To-Do List –
You have to keep something on this list
What am I saying? Make a To-Do list and update it weekly.
If you sing, then sing a little everyday! Learn drills you can run to keep sharp. If you play guitar, dedicate a little bit of time to running those drills every day! If you write songs, write a little bit every day! If you love it so much, just do what you love! If you’re having a hard time focusing on running drills and staying in shape, pick up teaching someone for a little extra cash. That will keep you honest since you will have to practice with them.
Side Note – Teaching has been one of the best things in helping me improve over the years. I have found a deeper knowledge and understanding from teaching, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to improve their craft.
How do you act like a Rockstar without destroying yourself?
Keep an air of mystery about yourself.
Indulge, but set a limit and stick to that limit.
Be self-aware. Duh.
How do you do this but still stay true to who you are? Well, most of the people you see on stage are acting. So to your friends and family. Be open and be honest and goofy and let your guard down. I’m not saying, “don’t do that same thing with your fans.” I’m just saying be aware of where you are. If you’ve ever hung out with your boss outside of work, this should make sense to you!
Once again, always be yourself, AND be aware of where you are and what you’re trying to convey. You can do both and still be true to yourself.
Okay, so what happens when we are mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy? When we are in a good place, we are more open to the gods of creativity! Good ideas come more frequently. You have more energy, and overall you will be at peace. I mean, that doesn’t sound like a rockstar to me, but it is a good life (which can’t be said for a rockstar).
I really don’t want this post to come off as a “Just be yourself, and that makes you a rockstar.”
I don’t believe that. Some of us are just not cool. We never will be, and that’s okay! Being happy with yourself is so much better than being cool. Cool isn’t the best thing you can be! So if you’re not cool, stop trying to be and be happy with whatever you are.
We are also in an unprecedented time of social media. People post everything these days. I mean, you can figuratively see people’s shit.
(I’m trying really hard to not use “literally” wrong these days. I think the word figuratively is funny and I literally lol’d when I wrote that sentence)
Social Media has taken all of the mystery out of our stars (for better or worse) some people still kill at the game though. Here are some things to think about before you post.
How am I wanted to be perceived? Does what I am posting match up with that?
What am I trying to achieve with this post? Am I just wanting “likes,” or is this a “call to action.”
How much of my personal life bleeds over to my career? Does this post cross that line?
Personally, I don’t go through everyone’s Instagram and unfollow them because their aesthetic doesn’t look right. Honestly, I think that part of it should be to help keep YOU (the aspiring rock god) in the right mindset. People see us through the tiny screens they keep in their pockets. Now more than ever, that’s how you’re viewed!
There are tips and tricks on how to post something provocative and engaging. I blog on that often, and honestly, you can google just about 1 million other people that post these helpful nuggets, that’s not the point of this particular post. If you want to know more about what I think and what has worked for me, subscribe!
In summary, when we think of Lemmy brushing his teeth with Jack. Remember this, that’s all marketing baby. If he really does that, he would have a shitty quality of life, and I know that the big C ended up getting him – RIP Lemmy, you are a Rock God in my book and nothing but love for you!! – But either he has a super-liver that went through hell and back, or… what is more likely… it didn’t actually happen like how you’re picturing it in your head.
So how can you use that information to your advantage? Remember how Heath Ledger in “10 things I hate about you” used all those untrue facts (positive spin on the definition of a lie) to give him that sweet, sweet, high school street cred? Well, do that! I don’t mean lie, but keep an air of mystery in the things that you do. Balance that out with ACTUALLY DOING interesting things, and you’re all set! The final touch, just like in the movie. Do it because you want to do it. There is no other reason. If you start caring just a little bit less of what people think of you. You’re already on your way!
I will say that I think it’s good to care a little bit about what people think, but NEVER let them guide you into a decision you don’t want to make. If you do this, you will have the rockstar cloak placed upon your beautiful shoulders, and even if NO ONE ACTUALLY DOES CARE, you will feel better about yourself!
Before I sign off, I want you to know that being at peace with yourself is the most important thing. Not being cool (or perceived as cool) that shit doesn’t matter. Honest to the buddha, it doesn’t matter at all. Jimi Hendrix was cool and died at 27 in a pool of his own vomit. He also suffered from drastic mood swings (as well as beat the shit out of his girlfriend) I mean he wrote a song called Manic Depression for christ sakes. Most “cool” people have really deep issues, which makes them seem cooler, it’s a crazy cycle. Anyways, understand that marketing doesn’t have to be “you.” That now, more than ever, you can be a “nerd” and be the one that everyone wants to be. But that shouldn’t be your focus. Peace should be the focus.
I love you… now get outta here, I’m off to watch “10 things I hate about you.” Mostly because I hate the way I don’t hate that movie.
Damn, that last sentence lost any shred of rockstar energy I had. Actually, having a blog like this is pretty, not rockstar. Dang, everything I thought I knew is crumbling around me!
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.
Youwant 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!)