I’ve been away for a few days dealing with some work stuff, so I wasn’t able to write up my articles like normal. But it got me thinking about things, and I’ve decided to change my approach a little.
Straight up, there are plenty of articles about “which plugins to use” and “how to use my DAW”, and I really could care less. I’m not going to delete the ones I’ve written or anything, especially because they’re a great resource I can direct interns and assistants to.
But from here, I’d like to delve more into the psychological, business, and emotional sides of music. I love the deeper topics of music and psychology, so I’d prefer to tackle those rather than repeat information that’s already available on the internet. I may stray from music every now and then, depending on the events that happen in my life, so stay tuned.
All that said, from here, we’ll be tackling more advanced topics. Not technical advanced topics, like high level mixing techniques or anything, just the mental and psychological stuff that goes on behind the scenes. And I really want to talk about the cool stuff going on in the industry more, so those of you reading will avoid a lot of the traps the music industry is notorious for.
Anyways, as part of today, I want to make a little disclaimer. Obviously this blog is free and you’re welcome to read it as much as you like, but there are a few warnings you might want to keep in mind before we continue.
First, if you’re not serious about music, this probably isn’t for you. Now the real question is, “what do you mean by ‘serious’? It’s actually pretty simple. If you’re not in it for the fame, money, or power, then you’re in the right place. If you love music and can’t stay away from it for some weird unexplainable reason, then you’re in the right place. If you genuinely enjoy learning and participating in the culture that surrounds your music style of choice (and/or have strong enough feelings about that style that motivates you to change the culture associated with it), then this is the right place. If you can’t relate to any of those and don’t understand what I’m talking about, I’d highly suggest taking a hiatus and doing some personal reflection on what you want from life.
Second, you’ve come to terms with the idea that you are NOT special. If you grew up in the states like me, this can be a difficult idea to overcome. Here in the states, they basically drill the idea that, “you are unique and you have value”. Bunch of BS, if you ask me. All that does is give you this corrupt sense of entitlement and discourages you from learning to work hard, imo. I get it, though. The flip side is Japan, where they drill the idea that you’re nobody and you must work insanely hard in order to compete. That discourages free-thinking, which definitely doesn’t seem right to me either. Anyways, basic example:
I’m part of a few big production-related Facebook groups and they do these challenges every few months. “Make a song using only X, Y, and Z” kind of stuff. I don’t participate, but they’re really fun to observe. Anyways, this hot-shot kid from LA joined the group maybe six months and has confidence oozing out of him. This dude really thinks he’s the next big thing. Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely good and has a lot of natural talent, but he lacks real-world experience.
He decides to host one of these challenges and really gets into it. He puts a good chunk of time into his track, and streams the entire thing. I don’t think he was trying to flex or anything, but I get the vibe he was trying to “bring up” the artists underneath him. He definitely underestimated the competition, though. Like, there are literally mau5trap guys in the group.
Anyways, when the competition ended, this poor guy wasn’t even in the top 3. The guy who won wasn’t anybody famous or anything, but he had skills and was very much on a different level than the guy who was hosting. Humbled the host real quick. He’s still active in the group, but he doesn’t flex nearly as much as he did before. The dude was a great sport about it and congratulated the winner, but also confirmed that he underestimated the talent in the group. Lesson learned, hopefully.
Moral of the story: you’re not special. You’re not the next big thing. Or maybe you are. But I don’t think you’re going to get there by carving that idea into your psyche and alienating yourself from people around you. Don’t get me wrong, you need to have goals, but thinking your special all the time usually does more harm than it does good.
And finally, be ready to work. Try new things. I’m a hypocrite because I don’t try new things as often as I should in order to say stuff like that, but I still think it’s good advice. If you want to get better at your craft, it’s going to take time and practice. And lots and lots of study. Be prepared for that.
Oh yeah, and bonus advice, come to terms with the fact that you will probably never make money. At least livable, reasonable amounts of it. Usually the good rule I’ve seen is to set yourself a time limit. You say, “I will give myself 5 years to get my income to X amount per year (after taxes) in the music industry. If I can’t get things moving by then, I will go back to school and get a degree.” Or something along those lines. Otherwise, if you’re not prepared, you may end up pinching pennies for the next 10 years and have terrible quality-of-life, just to find out that you don’t have what it takes. It’s an awful moment for a lot of people. HAVE A GOAL.
Anyways, hope you learned something and stay tuned for the new content!
Good luck, have fun!