Thursday, August 2, 2012

Getting There - Part III

7. Be True To Yourself
There are going to be down times for you. Nothing worth having is easy to get, and most creative ventures are apt to be especially difficult. Part of what will keep you going in those rough spots is the knowledge that you're doing what God made you to do. Being convinced of that will get you through a lot. Part of being a good musician is being an honest one: don't pretend to be something you're not just to succeed or to do what you think other people want you to do. Find out what's in your heart, be honest with yourself about your own particular talents, and then get after it. There will be others who are better at certain things or who have a more varied or diverse skill set, but if you have something worth saying, then it's probably worth the battle to say it. Bring what you have to the party: let everyone else be everyone else.

8. Keep Going
And so we're back where we started. Once you've got all the pieces in place - you're working hard to develop your talents, surrounding yourself with the right people (both in your band and outside of it), committed to learning how to become a great performer, and being honest with yourself about who you are and what you're here on earth to do - get ready to get familiar with the ol' grindstone. Like I said when we started, nothing replaces hard work and concentrated, consistent effort. No amount of natural talent or luck will ever take the place of just getting down to work.

What scares some people about venturing down the musical path is the sense that it requires a lot more of a commitment than most other jobs: it's high risk without the guarantee of high reward. It takes time. It relies heavily on self-motivation rather than punching a clock to get a paycheck. How it all works is a complete mystery to most people, even those who are trying to become musicians. This is all part of the deal, but if you're convinced this is what is in the cards for you, than it's all just another step in the journey.

I once saw Billy Joel give an answer to someone asking him the question, "How do you know if music's right for you?" His reply has stuck with me for years. He said that, for musicians, there is no Plan B. Musicians and artists don't tend to think, "I'll try this rock 'n' roll thing on for a year or two, but if it doesn't work out and I'm not signed to a multimillion dollar recording contract in that time, I'll just head to law school instead." Because, for musicians, this is what we do. It's in our blood and nothing else seems adequate enough to substitute for it. This is not to say that it's worth obsessing over (nothing is), but for those of us with music in our souls, it's all worth the time and work it takes to get there.

There are a lot of posers our there, a lot of people that just want to sleep in, stay out late, not have to wear a tie to the office or be confined to a cubicle, and so they think that music is their way out. But they don't love music for its own sake; they love it as a means to an end. These types are all over the music world, but they usually don't hang around for too long. Don't be like them. If you want to succeed in music, you have to be serious about music. Your passion for the art form, your dedication to being your best at it, and your persistence will get you as far as your dreams can take you, God-willing.

Hope to see you out there.

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