Last week I asked you some curly questions. I hope you answered them. If you didn’t, my question is why not?
I will assume you did for now so those who are moving towards their goals can keep going.
Lost In Music
I figure there are two types of people when it comes to music;
- Column A: Those who say they love music which is about 95% of the population. They rather like their iPod and enjoy letting Spotify crowdsource what they listen to next.
- Column B: Those to whom music and life are completely synonymous. Interestingly, many of those from Column A will claim to be in this column but I can assure you they aren’t. You can usually spot them because they let Spotify choose their music, they have a new iPod and a 9-5 job to afford said device. The true denizens of Column B are those who can’t help but seem to abandon what everyone else calls common sense to music. They go quiet and their eyes mist over when you play Dark Side Of The Moon.
To Colum B people, music is like religion, not a church but that spiritual communion where a great piece of music is like a window to God. The Cosmic Oneness can be glimpsed in the space between the notes as Chris Rea plays and all that.
In the Rock & Roll making game, those from Column A tend to bail or settle for being weekend warriors in cover bands. Column B people are the ones to watch but also need to watch out as they are the sensitive ones who get off the rails easily.
Let’s finish what we started last week.
Shout At The Devil
Last week I asked you those questions. Today I will run through the main categories I listed, somewhat like I was doing my own homework!
- My music is private and not for the wider world – I will be very honest and say I have never felt this one at all. It totally befuddles me that people do feel this way. I have always had this strong drive to make sense of & communicate with the world around me. Any frustration I feel in this area is in not feeling that I can achieve my desires. I’m rather like that scene in the movie Troy where Achilles’ Ma tells him he can choose a safe life and be happy, or go to Troy and have stories written about him for thousands of years. At the cost of dying. Guess what Brad Pitt does? My music feels like my children so I publish it. If I have a fault in this category it is not making a big enough spectacle of myself in the fight – sorry promotion.
- I’m opposed to being signed or making money – Now this one I am nowhere on. If I have any hope of dedicating my life to music then I need the money to support myself. I see it as only fair that if people value what I give, they should be happy to encourage me to do it again with a few of their coins. Altho maybe that “should” assumption is a weakness that sets me up for a later issue.
- I don’t have the tools I need to make a professional enough record – I will admit that I was a slave to this for a few decades. When all I had was my CZ-1000 I was sure that if I could get a better synth (like a Jupiter 8) that I would make better music. I had my revelation in 2008 and that has helped free me to use that energy on improving myself instead of waiting for the tool that will.
- I’m not talented enough – This one I do worry over. I surely can’t play with anything approaching the skill and panache of any of my heroes. I feel lifted to hear them but downhearted that I don’t feel like I can deliver the equivalent on my tracks. This leaves me feeling a bit of a fraud if I try to compare my records to Alan Parsons, Gary Numan, A Flock Of Seagulls…
- I don’t know how to do it – I taught myself everything I know so I can feel confident that I know how to do everything I do. From doing over & over I know I can write, record, mix, master, make cover art and get my albums on Bandcamp (and iTunes if I care to). Practically I can do the technical things I have needed. What stalls me is trying to get others on-board to play with me or promote. That smells like a weakness.
- No one would be interested in my little old record – Can I skip this one. Please!!! I feel like the King of Being Ignored. I whine about this ad nauseum to poor Jane. I am the Buzz Lightyear of feeling unvalued. This isn’t good. Or useful.
We don’t want to make a record, there is no money in it and we only want to play live – I can make records. I am great at that. Live I am scared of. I didn’t ever learn a skill that translates to the stage. I’m not scared of being on stage – rather love it actually but not playing guitar, keyboard, tambourine etc makes me feel like I’d be a fraud on stage for my music so it seems best to avoid that. Couple that with the above (as in attempts to find musical partners fail & no one would come see me play anyway) and I have developed a steady diet of worms re: playing live. Funny, as one of my hopes (fantasies) with my current project would be getting an email asking me to take my upcoming music to one of those Northern European Metal festivals – first few seconds: feeling super chuffed, then: stomach emptying panic. Jane will leave home I’m sure.
You Better, You Better, You Bet, You Better Bet Your Life
Ultimately you (and only you) can find the reasons you balk. Each of us must find our own salvation and all that. Giving up and living a life of fixing photocopiers is ok. So long as that is ok with you.
Didn’t think so so let’s see a few of the things you could possibly consider to keep yourself chooglin’
- My music is private and not for the wider world – accept that you have the right to express yourself. Everyone else is posting how they feel on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and they mostly don’t put any effort into it so if you make it into a cool song then you are the better man. What would you say if you were someone who did publish their work? Pretend you are Rod Stewart (or a singer you like) and write a new track as though you were that person who you welcome a new track from. Not copying their music but simply borrowing their right to be there.
- I’m opposed to being signed or making money – ask yourself why? People only give you money if they want to, so you aren’t breaking any laws putting a price on your work (unless you are holding a gun then it is called robbery). Maybe you are scared of putting on a price in case no one buys… I bet your downloads don’t change much even if you pop $1 on your album.
- I don’t have the tools I need to make a professional enough record – you have everything you need. And probably more. All DAWs come with enough toys to make anything you want. Use that creativity you say you have to make something that is uniquely you without so much as a single free VST. Set yourself a challenge to make a track with nothing but what you have. No external samples or tools at all. If you commit to this you will be surprised. Really surprised. Plus the money you have left over you can use for other things that are truly productive.
- I’m not talented enough – go back to that lesson on creativity and skill. You can develop any skill you need. Or hit the want ads and outsource. Reality is you probably are talented & skilled enough to make a record but you are afraid people will compare you unfavorably to Steve Vai. Only idiots on YouTube will do that and they deserve to be ignored. It is called jealousy so you know you won as you got them to react. If you make a good song with an authentic performance, positive comments will outweigh the dickless wonders every time. Even better, fans will usually step on trolls for you before you get to the comment. I just watched a YouTube video of Tony Visconti talking us through the making of Bowie’s “Heroes” and let me tell you when David sang those lines, he just threw himself at them. That is why they are great. Same with the instrument parts, they weren’t worrying about if it had “bad frequencies” (Fripp, I’m a-lookin’ at ya), they laid it down to capture the feeling they had.
- I don’t know how to do it – Learn. I can’t stress this enough. Learning is very easy when you have a purpose. I have a fear of maths but I bet if I was as interested in space flight as I am in music I’d get good at triggermetricry & algerbrakes. Also never forgot to outsource. Great things are rarely made entirely by one person in isolation. When I mentioned Rod The Mod I bet you thought of Rod but in reality, it was Rod, Woody and a host of others who are really Rod Stewart. Bowie was Alomar, Visconti, Eno, Fripp… Working with others can be a PITA but a partnership increases your odds dramatically. Watch the movie Jersey Boys if you doubt me.
- No one would be interested in my little old record – remember that you have as much right to self-expression as anyone else. If your music is honestly from the heart then there are people out there dying to hear it. Give them the opportunity to feel the way you do over records you love. This is simply not a thing for you to decide. But I can say the purer your spark is gotten to tape the greater the chance people will be moved.
- We don’t want to make a record, there is no money in it and we only want to play live – Sadly record sales aren’t what they used to be. But in reality, record sales never were. Sure a few acts sell 11ty billion copies of a record, but most famous records didn’t sell that many copies out of the gate and really only promoted the tour. Make your record. Get the right Producer on-board so they can help you stay focused and deliver your sound in the right way.
Homework: I want you to take last week’s homework and now go through each of the Impediments & Reasons that you raised and write out a few solutions that you could (and are willing to) implement to get you past that block.
Action: Please post the written homework here. I get you don’t want to post publically but that is another impediment. What you are doing by posting your solutions online is setting your agenda. Once you say it, you not only make it a bit more real but you have to live up to it.
No matter when you meet this course, please feel free to participate actively in the Homework & Action sections at the bottom of each page. Even if this article is old, I am still listening.