Who am I
and what I do
Is not what this world
Wants me to
I’ll trod a path
That’s yet unseen
You may shake your head
And jab at me
But some far morrow
A successful day
Truly creative will and way.
Ultimately, we all feel misunderstood. As teenagers, as adults, as any human in the world. We want so badly to be perceived for the way we see ourselves (though that probably isn’t in true light of who we really are). Recently, I’ve come to realize, as a musician and as someone trying to spread goodness into the world around me for the ultimate Creator, that I cannot walk a conventional path with God and music. Carefully pursuing music in Austin, I become connected with the independent scene, networking and getting out there by playing local shows in coffeehouses, a vintage clothing store and various open mics around town throughout a 2-4 year span. There were aspects that I enjoyed- I loved meeting new people when I played open mics. I actually determined one specific week to go to the open mic at Genuine Joe’s Coffeehouse- where I attended for consecutive weeks faithfully. There were good conversations, memories of shows that have lingered like a familiar smell and friendships that are far but never forgotten. But, there were the continual often downsides to being in the wonderful world of music.
So, I am now challenging myself to brainstorm and create (when they say grassroots, this is truly grassroots) an unconventional business model for pursuing music in an often foreboding atmosphere. There have to be people who look up for their inspiration. There have to be people who stand for something true and right while also being creative souls. I believe in creating a path where once was none, and a huge part of that for me involves the atmosphere and community with which I surround myself. It is no more easier to be a musician and a convicted soul than to feel as if you are water and oil. I have grappled with my purpose for years. Why would God give me gifts but not allow me to use them? Why is something so beautiful and amazing as music left to fend for itself in such dark places around America’s cities? This is when I decided a different kind of atmosphere, people and touring would be some of the fire within my business model. I would surround myself with those who would be ultimately striving for the same eternal goals, and I would find unconventional ways and places to share my gift of song. So, that process is slow and in the making, but time pieces together things in ways yet to be seen.
Below is a list I’ve compiled of 5 factors that will determine where you end up as an artist in the world of creativity:
1. Your creative vision for yourself and the image you portray. It’s true. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck….. Sometimes its hard to have people view you in unfavorable terms or to feel like if you don’t “sell- out” by portraying a certain image, that you’ll never get to where you want to be in the creative world and more specifically musical sphere. Don’t listen to them. Listen to someone who created you. He knows better for you. And listen to your intuition. Don’t mold to a world that only wants to sell you as a product. Be willing and courageous enough to be different. In fact, being different is really in style right now. Strangely enough, though, people are not as open-minded as they boldly claim to be once they learn the path on which you are walking. But that doesn’t matter. Pay them no mind… just keep on your way. “Play your music, write your songs, sing a little louder, and the world will sing along.”
2. The people with whom you surround yourself. The verse is truth “Evil company corrupts good morals.” We can deny it all day long, but we know it’s true. If you have sketchy feelings about people, or think “hey, I don’t get a trustworthy vibe from him,” remember that. These are not the types of people you will want in your “inner circle” of musicians and businesspeople to work with. Do people stand by their words? Do they keep promises? If not, I would be wary of doing any serious business venture with them. Do people make mistakes? Of course, and be willing to forgive and move past if it was an honest misunderstanding. But remember, birds of a feather flock together. And if you see characters in your group lacking character, it may be time to reassess the contacts you have made and accumulated.
3. Your goals. People say to write them down. Listen to those people. People say you can’t do it too- don’t listen to THOSE people. Writing your goals on paper makes it easier to go back and reference them. It is also incredibly fulfilling to look at them and realize that over time, you have accomplished what you said you would. Writing goals keeps them in your mind. It also makes it somewhat tangible and may help you focus your efforts better.
4. Your attitude: toward both success and failure. It’s rather hard to not take things personally. I’m the queen of this one. But taking it all in stride is the best way to approach each day- every compliment and every criticism. Especially people telling you “your lyrics are just plain terrible” (yes, that really happened to me). It’s important, I think, in the music industry, to not look around you too much for validation. Your validation should come from God. People will continually disappoint, and if you flounder in the waters of public opinion your whole life, you will never be satisfied. Because, even if you end up on top for “glory moment in the sun,” life goes on. And then, you will abdicate your temporary throne to the next newcomer on the music scene. Enjoy successes- however little or large they be, but remember to keep it all in perspective. You may be living large, but a slice of humble pie may be waiting around the corner. Take the motto my best friend and I have done: “Everything at face value-don’t read into it much.” And to that I’ll add- let it roll off your sleeves.
5. How you view your ultimate purpose and Who you ultimately serve. Though this came last on the list, it really should pervade the entire list. If you know Who you serve at the core of your life, then decisions will begin to fall like pages to one side or the other eventually. I know personally that I need to be asking about every decision- is this drawing me closer to Him or pulling me farther away? When others question your beliefs or a stand in one area (that they may claim is crazy), you will be able to know with every fibre of your being, that you are doing what you know to be right. When your team of people is relatively small compared to others, when at times it seems that doors are closing and no windows are opening and when your dreams seem to be shed along the roadside and trampled by turtles? (great band), you can take comfort in this fact alone. It doesn’t matter. If you die poor and unknown, but faithful to God, the story will be a happy ending. Even if you became the most successful musician and crowds of people could chant your name and sing every lyrical line you penned, none of that would matter if your mind wasn’t directed upward. So, love what you do. And do what you love. But if God presents new and various opportunities, be willing to say “Here I am, use me.” As much as I love music, often I clutch it far to tightly than I should.
So, here’s to finding like-minded creative souls who will be running for the same eternal goal and want to end up in the great land of promise. If you know of anyone who fits this description or have any great resources in my efforts to pave a new path, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you. Keep walking toward the sun, and hold your hearts high.