How To Be Yourself In The Music Industry

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People are so weird.

Last week, I was at this amazing barbecue restaurant and the table next me to opens up their bags, pulls out some ribs, and asks the waiter:

“Uh excuse me, can we get some plates? We brought our own food.”

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WHY WOULD YOU BRING YOUR OWN FOOD TO A RESTAURANT

After I wondered how this person exists in the universe, I realized it illustrates a hidden ability that we all possess.

We are the only animals that have the ability to look at ourselves and our surroundings and go: that’s weird and that’s normal. 

I can remember when I first starting writing music. It was a complete disaster.

No one liked anything I wrote. My music sounded like a mix of random notes at insanely fast tempos. At the time, one of my musical theory teachers actually instructed me to see a doctor. Not a good start.

Obviously, I got better. But something weird happened along the way. I went “Hmmm, maybe I should be more like everyone else. They seem to be doing just fine.”

So I did that. I wrote songs that I thought were normal, I used the same chords as everyone else, I hit up the same networking events, reached out to certain labels with the same music demo packages, and did the same marketing plans as everyone else. 

“BUY NOW PLEASE!!!”

“NEWEST X SINGLE OUT – Share it with everyone! Including your dog!”

“…donate if you like it, i guess…”

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Yeah, I did that…

No one responded to anything I said. If it did get a good response, it wouldn’t last very long. I kept trying to “go viral” or “hustle” like everyone said.

I looked at myself and said “Why isn’t this working? Is my stuff bad?”

I started telling myself:

  • You can’t sell your music, that’s for greedy sellouts.
  • You can’t market your music, that’s called spamming.
  • You can’t write music, no one will like it.

As it turns out, these thoughts pile up and makes a huge mess. This mess spills over into our daily lives and we don’t even realize it. 

From not approaching a woman because of the fear of rejection, to not sending off that email to a producer – because what’s the point? Insert X reason.

I did what everyone told me to do. They all said:

  • Top 101 ways to twitter your music (surface level, you’ll forget it in five minutes, click-bait)
  • How to spam your grandmother your newest single and EP (hint: get her before her naptime)
  • How to get a bar gig (it’s exposure, man, be happy about it)

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. NONE OF THIS ADVICE ACTUALLY WORKED. 

I encountered internal battles that no one addressed, or overcoming complex things like procrastination, or highly technical music business jargon.

They all taught this surface level material that looked and sounded great, but didn’t actually address the real issue.

And then it occurred to me:

The more I held onto others out of fear for the alternative, the more I realised I would lose in the long run.

I wanted real value, something that would stand the test of time and become the greatest of all time.

And after years of testing systems on musicians – How To Be A Music Success was born.

Let me show you how to be the CEO of your music business and how being yourself is the only way to live your life – right now.

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FIND YOURSELF THROUGH YOUR WORK

Before social behaviors were hardwired into our brains, as small children, our main objective was to play. Or eat Play-Doh. Whatever floated your boat back then (hey listen man, I don’t judge.).

The art of playing does a few things, mainly: it’s really fun and it’s the fastest form of learning known to man.

What we naturally gravitated towards were creative tasks. All people are born creatives, but through unrelated curriculums, this creativity is hammered out.

As we grow-up, our obvious tendency is to stop playing. We want to fit in with everyone and stop wearing our capes, which is normal (sometimes).

However, with people like you and I, this sense of play remains a key factor of our identity, it just comes out in different ways.

This turns into a unique battle, which is keeping this inner child and fusing it with your adult work until it is simultaneously one-in-the-same and viewed with positive reinforcement from our peers. 

Every artist, entrepreneur, sports athlete, musician, inventor, ruler, since the dawn of man, has waged a ferocious battle on that last sentence that I just typed. Think about that.

In other people’s minds, it looks as if we pick up an instrument, practice until we’re great, and then we’re famous. But, like any great person trying to achieve mastery of a craft, we encounter unplanned difficulties. 

Before technology, our daily lives were filled to the brim with activities. Hunting for food, watching the crops, and just dicking around the land.

Since we no longer need this stuff, a new emotion grew: boredom.

Because of boredom, we fill our time with as many to-dos as possible. This gives our brains the feeling that we are ok.

Not only do we have to defeat boredom, but we quickly learn that creating music is a nasty, mean process. There is no way around it as it drains every inch of our being until it’s empty. 

But here’s what happens when you push through the external excuses and distractions.

You find yourself. Instead of thinking about what you want to become or what you can do, you actually become it. Instead of feeling X or Y about your life, you live in that moment by working in that moment.

This process of creativity is similar to the conditions of how planets are made and how humans are born.

No one understands this until they go through this process.

It’s a hidden, beautiful fundamental of life.

Focus on looking at the bigger picture and you’ll quickly overcome any excuse.

DO-ABLE ACTION STEP

  • Write out 1 week and break it down. Monday nights, I think of feelings/emotions/titles for songs. Tuesday nights, I turn these emotions into sounds. Wednesday nights, I turn these sounds into songs. Thursday nights, I edit these songs, etc. Don’t be afraid to do just one thing at a time. It shows respect.

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IGNORE MOSTLY EVERYONE

What we consider good or bad advice comes from years of evolution. It’s how we got out of the caves and stopped beating our Uncle Steve with clubs.

As we evolve, so does what we consider normal, also evolve. We are able to subjectively put out who we are to others without remorse.

Us musicians, on the other hand, are a little different.

Not only do we have our social behaviors that have evolved, so has our music.

Since music is a social tool used for connection, it only becomes natural to gravitate towards certain popular ways of music, much how we like certain ways of talking, making love, or food (some people are just weird, like we found out at the beginning.).

As we begin writing music, it’s abstract, incoherent, with no real connection to anyone. AKA it sucks.

As we get better, we begin to hone on something that truly resonates with us. AKA people are saying “Hmm, this is actually pretty good.”

Ironically, this also resonates deeply with everyone else because it becomes relatable.

Our music has climbed out of the pool and joined the party, unlike your drunk Uncle Steve at your family gathering who swears at everyone behind his floaties. Don’t be like Uncle Steve.

People like our music because they also feel this music inside, but can’t get it out. Due to lack of experience or talent, they need us to unlock these gates to their inner selves.

As you grow your business, we enter a new phase. At this point, it’s best to be cautious of who you listen to and what you listen to.

You might see record labels wanting to invest money in you, unrelated sponsorships wanting to endorse you, and people turning their opinion around.

Most people mean well. In reality – someone who says “You should do X.”, I normally stay away from. This person has a broad view and usually doesn’t mean well.

Most everyone will say: get any record deal you can, go viral (which is all BS), get a million twitter followers, or make a million songs until you get a hit.

It’s the equivalent of me saying “I have an amazing idea. I need to find investors so I can be rich.” or “I play the lottery because it couldn’t hurt.” or “Let’s rob a bank.”

We control our material, we set the price based on our research, and we go directly to our customers.

We are confident in this price because we know our music/material is truly remarkable.

Not only does this give you more clout as an artist, but also more revenue, which is needed to create more remarkable content, and change lives.

Focus on building a long-term relationships, not just fans. You want customers for life. You do this by touching their most inner core. If you do this, you’re way ahead of every other musician and record label, setting yourself for a career, not just a hobby.

DO-ABLE ACTION STEP

  • Focus on providing immense value, a superb product, and amazing customer service to 1 fan. That’s it.

Once you get 1 fan, get another. And so forth. What we’re doing is building a solid foundation for success at a slow pace. We start to understand what songs work best, who to market our material to, what works and doesn’t work for our sales conversations, and who responds to what (luckily, you have Sarah at SongFancy and William at HTBAMS to help you).

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BUILD YOUR LEGACY

Everyone knows we have very limited time on Earth. It’s a quiet, nagging feeling that you never truly address in day-to-day situations. 

It’s easy to jump around from idea to idea, tactic to tactic, new app to new app. That’s easy.

The hard part is staying consistent. Tell yourself this:

I trust in myself and where I’m leading my ship. I won’t let others influence my direction and I stay the planned course.

At HTBAMS, music is the after-product. Sometimes, I don’t even talk about music and I strictly focus on psychology. Why do I do this sometimes?

Have you ever met someone who said “I wish I could start a new album, but I don’t have any idea on what it should be. Or I have too many ideas.” What are they really saying?

What they’re really saying is “I’m afraid to take action because of X reason.” They may be afraid of failing, or looking stupid, or even becoming successful.

The music part is irrelevant, it’s just used as a surface level barrier to rationalize and protect our behavior.

I can give every tip, tactic, and how-to guide in the world. But, if we don’t overcome our inner battles and develop small consistencies, we begin to look like a crazy lab-rat, jumping from maze to maze, trying a little bit of this and a little bit of that (started with a kiss, now we’re up to bat…sorry, couldn’t help it.)

Don’t worry about what others are doing. Focus on being consistent, one small baby step at a time. We don’t make mistakes at HTBAMS, we just change our direction until we hit something that works. And then we double-down on it.

Remember – the music comes afterwards. Focus on being a champion first.

DO-ABLE ACTION STEP

  • Break the previous two steps down. When you set these up, devote your full attention to these tasks and give your 100%, respectful focus. For example:

Monday: Think of feelings/emotions/titles for songs (1 hour) / Reach out to 1 Fan on X Platform (1 hour) (Notice how we’re splitting everything up 50% content and 50% promotion. There is a reason for this.)

Do this once. Don’t even worry about Tuesday. Once you actually do Monday, THEN we focus on the next day. We do not pass go until we do that day’s work. You do each task to the best of your ability and not to anyone else’s measurements or standards. This is our game and we decide the rules. 

Readers, what are some things about your music that you’re afraid to show others? Share your thoughts below.

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