Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Getting There - Part II

4. Forget the Math
There are plenty of people who will tell you that you have to accomplish X by this certain time of your life and Z by another time. Forget them. Don't listen. The music world is full of the successes of people way beyond what most on the business side of things would call "too old": little-known names like Michael Buble and Sting. The simple truth is that there are no equations by which the game has to be played. Musicians of all shapes, sizes, colors, and yes, ages, both succeed and fail: let the words of the conformists fall by the wayside.

5. Surround Yourself With The Right People
Don't listen to the naysayers. There will be plenty of them. For some reason, this world is good at manifesting people who get their jollies by telling others what they'll never be able to accomplish. Whether this comes from a sense of insecurity or a simple pessimistic worldview or both, don't worry about it. Just let it slide: people's words will only have power if you allow them to. Conversely, don't surround yourself with yes-men. People that tell you that you're great no matter what are harming you just as much as those who tell you that you can never accomplish your dreams. Your real allies reside in the middle: those who will encourage you when you're down but also give you a good butt-kicking if you need it. Criticism and encouragement can come from the same person, and that's the person you want to be around.

6. Learn To Perform
There are indeed bands that have succeeded in the music world whose live performances consist of nothing more than standing on stage like statues and playing their instruments. It truly is one of the most boring things in the world: these cats look as if their own music means nothing to them at all. Many of them can barely be trusted to crack a smile, let alone move around the stage or interact with their other band members or the audience. These types of musicians are the exception to the rule because you can always count on two things: people love to be 1) entertained and 2) impressed. These are the two elements of great performance and it's important that serious musicians learn how to do them. Much to many up-and-coming musicians' surprise, great performing doesn't come naturally to most of us. The great performers make their performances look natural, but believe me, it took a lot of time, effort, and work to get it to look that way. And, oh yeah, most of the great bands in the history of music are awesome live. Plenty of people will buy your songs and albums if they dig your sound, but if you can't hack it live, most of them won't spend another $30 to see you perform a second time.
You want to make an impression? Record a great song.
You want to make fans for life? Blow them away with your live shows.

Still more to come....

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