Vaynerchuk nails it here like he always does.
Plan for the long game and good things will happen. Chances are almost zero that you will be a success quickly.
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The Entrepreneurial Musician Blog by Andrew Hitz featuring articles on being an entrepreneur in the music business. Show notes for The Entrepreneurial Musician Podcast.
Filtering by Category: Inspiration
Vaynerchuk nails it here like he always does.
Plan for the long game and good things will happen. Chances are almost zero that you will be a success quickly.
Oh man if I were the tattoo type and I was looking for a really long tattoo this would be a good candidate! I love how one good quote can fire me the hell up!
(You can listen to the entire Henry Winkler interview with James Altucher from which that quote is taken plus read a summary of the best points he makes here.)
What a beautiful way of thinking about this. Every time I read a nonfiction book, I am investing in my business skills, musicianship or teaching abilities. Any time I read a fiction book, I am investing in my imagination.
I have taken plenty of online courses, attended conferences and master classes, and done any number of other things to invest in myself over the years. I had just never really thought of it that way.
But Ramit's framing of it will only help to ensure that I'll keep plugging away on my current book (Gary Vaynerchuk's Crushing It!) so I can get on to the next investment.
"Quitting merely because you’re behind is a trap, a form of hiding that feels safe, but isn’t. The math is simple: whatever you switch to because you quit is another place you’re going to be behind as well."
Yet another truth bomb from Seth Godin.
You are always behind so using that as the primary reason to bail on something is just an excuse. Try to get to the heart of why you don't want to continue so you can decide if that is in fact the best thing for you moving forward.
Don't fall for the trap.
A mentor once taught me to evaluate my belief systems by observing my actions and not by examining my thoughts.
If you are an entrepreneur and you only work on your business a couple of days a week and yet you find time to watch Netflix every day, you believe you can succeed while prioritizing Netflix over your business.
If you don't have enough money to properly market your entrepreneurial endeavor and yet you go out for drinks every weekend, you believe that going out for drinks is more important than getting the news about your product or service to the very people it could help.
If you are always tired and don't get enough sleep and yet you spend a full hour on your phone at night before you go to bed, you believe that scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat is more important than that extra hour of sleep and the productivity boost it will bring.
If you hope to win a major orchestral audition someday and your first notes of the day tend to be at 1:00 pm, you believe that you don't need to play all morning long and can still beat all of the people who start practicing hours earlier than that.
If you are learning to improvise but you transcribe one solo a year rather than one solo a week, you believe you can learn how to play jazz by transcribing far fewer solos than just about anyone who came before you and successfully learned the language of jazz.
Let me make one thing very clear: It is very much okay to prioritize going out with friends every weekend over having a marketing budget.
The problem occurs when our actions don't align with our goals. And especially when we don't realize it.
So what can you do about it? Here are some steps I propose to make sure you are the same page with yourself.
I once heard someone say that when setting goals, people frequently commit to doing way too much when making one-year goals and don't commit to nearly enough when making five-year goals. That's why I suggest one-year, two-year and three-year.
But do whatever works for you!
And remember, a goal that's not written down is just a wish.
So stop thinking about what you should be doing and examine what you actually are doing and make sure those actions are aligned with your clearly defined goals. If you do all of the above steps regularly the sky is the limit!
"Begin in the middle."
That's from yet another concise and to the point blog post from my spirit animal, Seth Godin.
How many times have you started watching a YouTube video, Instagram story or Facebook video and you end up clicking 'next' within 10 seconds.
There is lots of data that a whole lot of us do this most of the time. There is way too much content out there to consume for us to stick with a video, podcast episode, blog post, ebook or Netflix series that doesn't immediately grab our attention.
So when creating content we've got two options:
As Seth challenges us to do in that blog post, begin in the middle. Begin with the good part. Provide value to your listener/viewer/reader as soon as you have their attention. They will always be happy you did.
As a side note, that is exactly what I love about Seth Godin's blog posts. They are "high protein" as I like to call them. He gets right to the point. Like, every single day.
And that is precisely why of all the blogs in the world, his is the only one I have delivered to my inbox every day of every week. I can't imagine life without his blog and a big part of that is because I don't have to sift through the pleasantries to get to the good stuff.
If beginning in the middle works for Seth, it can work for the rest of us, too.
I highly recommend Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic. It is a wonderful read that really helped my perspective on my art, my career and my life.
One of my favorite things in the book is her recognizing out loud that her best work is almost certainly behind her.
What does she mean by that? She is the author of the blockbuster best-seller turned into a movie starring Julia Roberts, Eat, Pray, Love.
She is right. There is almost no chance she will write another book that will sell that many copies, that will affect that many lives. Big Magic has been hugely successful and it hasn't been a drop in a bucket compared to Eat, Pray, Love. And they aren't turning into a movie starring Julia Roberts or Meryl Streep any time soon.
But so what? The only person in the world who can let that almost certainly accurate observation affect or even grind to a screeching halt her creative output is her.
She's the only one with that power.
All of us throw up roadblocks all the time. And its always for one reason and one reason only: fear.
The only surefire way to guarantee no one thinks the book after your blockbuster didn't live up to its predecessor is by never writing it! But that sure seems like a silly decision to make out of fear.
You might be saying, "If only I had the privilege of worrying about people being disappointed with the book (or album or movie or whatever) after my global smash hit!" Yeah, I don't have that problem either.
But we all can sell ourselves from time to time on narratives that are very similar. We would never say these things out loud to friends or colleagues because they would instantly point out that we were being ridiculous. But the crazy and terrifying thing is that we totally buy this bullshit when it is just a one-sided conversation in our head! Some possible examples:
"My performance of the Bach Goldberg Variations will never be as good as Glenn Gould's so why bother."
Here's the problem. No one wants another version of Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations. (Full disclosure: His 1981 recording of that might be my single desert island recording of any piece of music in any genre ever.) But he already played that. Who gives a shit if some tuba playing podcast host thinks that's the gold standard? If you have a version inside of you, for the love of all things holy share it with us!
"I've always composed for choir in the past and really don't know anything about wind ensemble so even though I'm interested in learning, I know my writing won't ever be as good as John Mackey's or even my choral writing so I'll just drag my feet and never start, or at the very least never share it with anyone."
No, you won't speak with as clear a voice as John Mackey does when you first start writing for wind ensemble. But here's the problem with this one: Nor did John Mackey when he first started out! You know how John Mackey got to be "John Mackey" and Dale Trumbore got to be "Dale Trumbore" in the choral world: By composing their first piece and then composing another one. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Everyone has to start somewhere.
"I could never produce an album that sounds as good Dark Side of the Moon so I'll just stick to playing bass (even though my shifting passions really are leaning strongly towards producing.)
And you may already know what I'm going to say here, but Alan Parsons, who produced the Pink Floyd masterpiece Dark Side of the Moon, didn't start at that level. He was an assistant at Abbey Road when the Beatles recorded their album by that name and then went on to work on many albums in a variety of capacities. The point is he learned from some of the best in the business and wasn't intimidated that he wasn't a finished product the day he first walked into Abbey Road.
So take the road that Elizabeth Gilbert has and tell those internal voices that are always trying to derail you to go screw. Like any other skill, you get better at it with practice.
The world needs your art. So don't talk yourself into selfishly hiding it from the world.
As Seth Godin points out in this spot on blog post, perspective is absolutely everything.
Four different people will experience the exact same thing in completely different ways based on their professions and world views.
Recognizing this fact is very powerful because it enables us to recognize our own bias and intentionally attempt to view something from a different perspective when that is helpful (which it almost always is.)
When trying to provide goods or services to someone (in or out of the music business), it is imperative that we forget everything we know about the product, service or situation and think like the customer.
Of course we think what we are providing is important, but have we made that case to our customers?
Practicing the ability to change one's perspective is one of the common traits that the insanely successful people I've interviewed for TEM all share. Might be good for the rest of us to that skill as well.
No matter how convenient it would be for our egos, nothing you could ever produce for the world is going to be for everyone. Literally nothing.
Most Americans have never stepped foot in a Starbucks. Hard to believe if there are five within 10 miles of your residence, but it's true.
Most of us know that trying to please everyone is a fool's errand, yet we all bristle at negative reviews or feedback.
But that's a waste of time.
Follow the link for a great (and as always, short) post by Seth Godin on processing negative reviews in a constructive manner.
"You can live on old habits for a while, but the future depends on investing in finding and building some new ones with (and for) your customers."
How many schools of music, orchestras, publishers, record companies and music stores should have realized this over a decade ago?
And how many of them either continue to not notice or are standing there with their fingers in their ears, their eyes closed and screaming "LA LA LA" at the top of their lungs?
It's easy to spot the blind spot in other people or other organizations. But can you spot your own in time?
"We overdo our response to news, good or bad, and let it distract us from the long-term job of living a useful life."
This quote is from another killer blog post from my spirit animal, Seth Godin. It talks about how we all day trade something and the negative effect it has on us and our productivity.
This brilliant blog post by Seth Godin is such a simple concept.
And yet I am reminded that simple and easy do not mean the same thing.
As Seth says in this post (which is only 144 words long): Being different is "Easy to say, difficult to do."
But it's vital.
"The alternative is to focus on the audience you care about" is so money.
The gatekeepers are gone! Or at the very least WAY less powerful and controlling than they used to be. Like a fraction as powerful.
Seth Godin wants to know what the hell you're doing about it.
“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
99% of all college music degrees in the world today have curriculums which are designed to help you follow a path better than the next woman or man. And there's a reason for this.
They were all designed many, many decades ago when it was close to impossible for anyone to blaze a trail for themselves.
There were gatekeepers everywhere you looked deciding who was allowed to make an album, who got to write a book and who got to do just about any other artistic endeavor you can think of.
But those people are all gone.
To make matters worse, there are thousands upon thousands of students graduating every single year with music degrees in the United States and all over the world who are being taught these same "just follow the path better than the next person" skills. And they're all competing for the exact same jobs. (A number that is getting smaller with every year that goes by.)
What you have there is a math issue.
What are the odds that you are going to one of the incredibly lucky few who will find a path that's already been cleared and will make a great living, both financially and artistically, as a result? They are not good.
Of course it happens. But you have a shockingly better chance of finding success in the music business (whatever success means to you) by taking Emerson's advice above and leaving your own trail.
Look around at all of the people who are making their own go of it. They are everywhere.
And you certainly have the best chance of success by getting an education that provides you skills for both the "path" and the "trail" approaches to a career.
Once you get out into The Real World™, literally no one gives a crap that you went to Northwestern or that you studied with (insert famous teacher here.) No one.
So if you're looking for a school to attend to be a music major, consider what skills they are offering you as a major factor rather than just going to the famous place or to study with the famous person.
You'll be happy you did.
"We don't have a talent problem. We have a shipping problem."
—Seth Godin from "Linchpin"
First of all, if you are the skimming type, at the bottom of this post there is a link to a book that Seth Godin has been generous enough to let me offer to my audience for free. Follow the link to get your free copy.
First of all, if you have not read Seth Godin's book "Linchpin" you should immediately stop reading my little blog here and go purchase it immediately. No seriously. Go do it right now. (And for the record that is not an affiliate link. I would of course let you know if it was. You just need to read the book because there is some life changing stuff in it.)
I just finished reading (actually listening since I am an Audible junky) "Linchpin" it for the second time and there will be a third time through it very soon.
The title of this post is a quote from the book and it is a blatant call to action.
Have you been "in the process" of writing a book for the last 18 months? I dare you to look in the mirror and say out loud that the reason you haven't published it (whether that means self-published or with a publisher) is because you are waiting to become a better writer.
Even if you might quietly think to yourself that that is a factor, I bet that if you say it out loud your bs detector is going to go off. In fact I guarantee it will.
(And you can substitute performing a recital, composing a symphony, opening a teaching studio, booking a tour for your band or anything else for writing a book.)
Because what's the way to get better as a writer? IT'S TO PUBLISH MORE DAMN BOOKS.
It's not to think about becoming a better a writer. It's not to read blog posts like this. And at some point (which is a lot earlier than a lot of us like to admit) it is not to read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos telling us how to be a better writer.
You can accumulate all the information and inspiration in the world and if you don't actually write (and ship!) anything then what the hell are you really doing? Not much is the answer.
That's because the only way to truly learn anything is by shipping.
I used the word "you" in this post over and over again. And obviously I have shipped albums, podcasts, books, websites (all plural) over the years. But I promise you I am writing this post as a reminder to myself.
What the hell am I waiting to acquire more "talent" (whatever the hell that even means) or more knowledge or more financial support before I ship? Avoidance and fear never lead to learning. But shipping does.
So go ship.
Through the incredible generosity of Seth Godin I can offer you a copy an ebook copy of "Seth Godin: Live at Carnegie Hall" for free. You can click on the cover or click here to get your free copy.
In a couple of hours I am going to talk entrepreneurship with students at my alma mater, Northwestern University (which has me in one hell of a great mood!)
I'm going to start with some bad news for them:
The skills required to excel at school bear very little resemblance to the skills needed to "make it" in today's music business.
At the beginning of every college class, each student is handed a syllabus which contains everything they will possibly be asked to know for a grade. In fact, if a professor ends up lowering a student's grade for something not on the syllabus there is an appeals process that students can undertake to get their grade restored. It involves committees and panels and lots of paperwork.
A syllabus is basically a checklist. Everything you will be tested on. Everything you will need to read. Every deadline. When the class will be completed. They are all neatly contained in one place.
But the Real World (which we capitalize to scare you) looks absolutely nothing like this. There isn't a checklist. There isn't a reading list. There aren't deadlines established for you that can't be moved under any circumstances. None of it.
Here's the good news: Just because you aren't required to use these skills (to not only complete a college degree but to actually excel) doesn't mean you aren't allowed to use them. As with playing the drums or composing music, when you first start to utilize some of them you won't be very good at them. At all.
Which is exactly why you need to start before the world requires you to start. As in today.
Anyone who is any good at charting their own path wasn't good at it before they got good at it. (Deep, right?)
So what are you waiting for?