Well losing weight and quitting smoking are the two biggest New Years Resolutions every year, and if you can carry them through the year, good on you! But each year in the Music game, people set themselves up to fall time and again, and then get themselves in a bad energy place that has a flow on effect to their creativity. We are here to help you get out of that place before you get in!
1. This year I'm going to "make it", or I'm out.
This cuts right to the crux of the matter right here. Why are you playing music? Do you have a yearning in your heart to share your craft with others, for their enjoyment, because you have this burning passion and you have to let it out or you will explode? Or are you trying to gain the approval and love of a screaming audience of teenage girls to make up for the validation you missed out on as a child?
Please note, I am in no way a psychologist here. Just a "failed" muso that gets it ;)
Anyways, if the former, like Taylor Swift says "it's like I got this music in my mind saying it's gonna be alright". Just play. Create. Perform. And the rest will sort itself out.
If the latter, sit yourself down and have a little chat with yourself. Why do you want to "make it"? What does "making it" look like to you? Is this really the best way to go about that?
Because music is meant to be balm for the soul, not a cross to have to bear. Let it heal you. And then let the passion take over from there.
2. This year I'm going to practice EVERY DAY!
Are you really? I've done this one so many years in a row I could write a book on it. And you know what happens? Life. Life has a habit of not running to schedule, and things come up, and get in the way, and your daily practice time gets eaten into. Then the inevitable cloud of "gah I didn't do my half hour yesterday, I'd better do an hour today" turns into "I'm so tired, I can't be bothered doing a whole hour" which turns into "grr I have to go practice my stupid instrument. I hate this thing. I hate music." And that's not what we're trying to achieve here, is it?
The trick is to only play (yes, "play", not "practice") while it's still fun. By all means get the scales in. Just do some fun songs in between. If you don't love it, you'll leave.
But yeah, try to do a little bit every day - even if it's just that one riff you can't get out of your head.
3. This year my band is going to get famous, or I'm going to quit and find another band / pursue a solo career.
Ok hold on a minute here Beyonce. First, if you're only in this game to get famous, re-read Resolution #1.
Second, ever wondered why they call it a "band"? You're banded together, a band of brothers-from-other-mothers, a family forged in the fires of creativity. You've decided at some point that this motley crew is the group you want to play with. For whatever reason. Playing music is about giving a little part of yourself to the world, sending it out to go where it wants and do what it will. Giving, not taking. If you're thinking the above resolution, then you've got the mindset all wrong - you should be asking yourself what you can give to this band, not what you can take from it. Otherwise, maybe you should pursue that solo career - because your bandmates deserve better.
Thirdly - if your band is not "making it" they way you would like - maybe the problem is you? Check your own "Communication & Contribution", see if that could be improved, before you start blaming the others for holding you back.
4. This year I'm going to record an album!
Whoa nelly. Have you recorded albums before? Have you recorded a bunch of singles and have enough to piece together in an album? Have you got a long enough back catalogue to start recording these songs? Enough brilliant (not good, not great - jaw-droppingly brilliant) songs written and practiced to perfection? Have you got eight months and around $15,000?
How about we stick with the old "keep it achievable and measurable" adage, and aim for a single instead?
There's nothing wrong with that - full length albums are really more of a last-century thing anyway, with the advent of streaming. If you can write and record an amazing, brilliant, omg-stop-everything-and-listen-to-this song, then you can shop that to promoters, radio stations, maybe even make a video and get it on someone's Rage guest selection.
Or just chuck it up on SoundCloud and YouTube and wait to be discovered. Look what happened to Justin Beiber (no really). Or just make an amazing song so you can listen to it and know that you have created something beautiful that will live on and bring joy to people.
The point is, don't set your goals too high, and then beat yourself up for not achieving them. Start with baby steps - and most importantly, love every second of it. If you're not loving it, find out why, and fix it so you do love it.
5. This year I'm going on tour!
Same thing here. There's tours and there's tours - book a string of local pubs up and down the coast, or book out arenas across the European capital cities. Only you know where you're at in your musical career - and where you want to be, for that matter - so keep it achievable. Something nice, a step in the right direction, the kind of thing that will make you feel proud of doing - but not something so out there that you will knock yourself out for not getting anywhere near it.
I just spoke to a friend whom I consider incredibly successful, who has just returned from another overseas tour where he was playing large venues in capital cities across Europe, only to come home and have to go back to his nine to five and save up for his next amplifier. There's no money in metal, he told me. I saw his Instagram photos of screaming fans and merch selling out and his band looking amazing on stage - not to mention I can hear how amazing their music sounds - but the main reason they are doing this crazy life, is because they love it. They shoot out amazing energy on stage because each of them loves what they do - which is why they go back to their nine to fives so they can do it all again. These guys are tight. This is what you play music for. Not for the money.
You make the money so you can play the music, not the other way around.
6. This year I'm getting out of my bedroom and joining a real live band!
|Photo by VisualHunt Evil Erin|
Now, there's nothing wrong with this one, per se. If you've been spending your life being a rock star behind closed doors and Introvert McIntrovert Face as soon as a human appears, maybe it is time to get out of your comfort zone and get some personal growth happening. But there are two potential areas where one could come unstuck:
First - are you actually a rock star behind closed doors? Or are you one of those people that get put on the clip reel of Idol audition shows who make people jam their fingers in their ears? Just to be sure, this is probably the best time to get a few lessons. Doesn't matter if you've picked up a guitar at a garage sale last month, or you've been shredding the fretboard for a decade - everyone could use a couple of lessons every now and then, just to keep themselves on the right track. Even the greats still have coaches they call on to keep themselves in top performing condition. You're not saying you're better than them are you?
Second, (and this one is much easier to fix), joining a "real live band" is no longer the only ticket to successville, like it was back in my day. You youngsters now have these gadgets called computers and this amazing thing called the internet. It's easier than ever to get the creativity out of your heart and into someone's ears. And if it's burning bright enough in there, you will find the way - go take a few computer or sound engineering classes if you need to. Save up to buy the equipment. There's nothing wrong with being a recording artist, as opposed to a performing artist, these days. It's just another creative outlet, and some people are better suited to that outlet than to others.
Again, make it realistic and achievable, and don't beat yourself up if you don't get it. There's more than one way to the shop if you want a sausage roll!
7. At least 30% of my time this year is going to go to marketing my music.
Well I'm glad you have the kind of life where you can draw up a spreadsheet and divvy up your time like that. Like Resolution #2, sometimes you just have to realise that life will get in the way, things will come up, and you just have to roll with the punches. Some days you won't have time to do anything. And that's ok! Like the rich say, work smarter, not harder. Find the most effective channel for your marketing, and focus on that. There's no point spending hours on something that no one is going to see. Do some research first.
And again, make sure you are spending the biggest part of your day doing what you love, not chaining yourself to a schedule that will make your passion become a ball and chain. They say never make your hobby into your career. This is why.
Roll with the punches, and always bounce back. You should be making music first, marketing it second.
8. This year, I'm going to meet my hero, and he/she/zie will light a fire under me and push me to that next level. Or better yet, discover me and ask me to go on tour with them.
This can be the biggest game changer of them all. First, we can't all be Ed Sheeran. And second, not all our heros are Taylor Swift.
We've all read the interviews about Dave Sabo going to his first KISS concert and having his course in life set that night. We've all felt the energy our favourite artists exude form onstage and thought if we can just get a bit closer, we will be able to catch what they've got, like success is a virus and we just need to get infected. And yes, in some rare cases (like the abovementioned Mr Sheeran), it does happen. Meeting your hero can be the best thing that ever happened to you.
But (unfortunately more often than not), you will meet your childhood hero and discover that they are just a regular human being, no super powers, their own problems to figure out, and worst of all, they don't have all the answers, and in some cases, if they did they wouldn't give them to you.
I've seen people crushed from meeting their heroes and being so disappointed in what these people actually are, that that have given up on their own dreams of musical success. They've been flattened by the discovery that the magical person who wrote those special words and sings them just for them, is actually paying someone else to write the words, sings them in order to get paid, and doesn't care a damn about the fans that pay their hard earned money for their art.
So moral of the story - don't ever give someone else the power to direct your course in life. It's fine to be inspired by the success of others, and to want to emulate them, but at the end of the day, you are the one that is going to live your life, no one else. Live it for you.
Play. Create. Perform.