Who are you? 5 things that will determine where you land as an artist

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

Will reveal

Truly creative will and way.

~leah

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 leahemusic@gmail.com.  I’d love to hear from you.  Keep walking toward the sun, and hold your hearts high.

~Leah marie

5 thoughts on “Who are you? 5 things that will determine where you land as an artist

  1. Leah,
    I do not know how many times I’ve asked myself these same questions. One might think the “classical” music world would demonstrate a bit more… propriety, if you will. Sadly, at least from what I’ve seen thus far, that is not the case. I love singing and acting and have been encouraged to pursue it… But there are very few roles for which my conscience would allow me to audition. So, yes, there is that same question, “why was I given this gift??”

    Aye aye aye! Figuring out how best to use special blessings is a difficult task. Bravo on your plan, though! I appreciate your heart-felt thoughts. 🙂

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  2. I concur Amanda! It is something that needs definite change in this world…. let’s go where no path is and make one. Always here if you ever want to talk reconciling creativity and faith 🙂 love you girl!

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  3. One day I will find a way to be a part of this 🙂 You could not have spoken words more true, my dear friend. I know they journey has seemed like a long one and it will continue to have some curves and potholes, but this path will help others see HIS path. Whether it is one seed or many, positive results will be reaped as long as your focus is the Creator. Love you!

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  4. What an uplifting post to read. My husband is a musician and I am a writer and we struggle with the same things. God has blessed both of us with talent, but over and over and over again we feel there is no place for it in this culture. We lived in Los Angeles for a while and left because we realized the way we approached things would never get us anywhere in that crowd. We then moved to Austin and found that the bands that succeeded were the ones that had more selfish and worldly goals and lifestyles. It can be depressing and discouraging. Why would God create a world that leaves no place for his followers? Why give us abilities and no tools to use them? I love your idea of creating our own path, the thing that we find so frustrating is to create it you have to have help from others, and we never seem to find those like minded backers on the business end of things. Good luck on your journey girl and keep up the posts!!

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    • I appreciate your comment so much! I would love to keep in touch with you. I believe that it is so important to build up your “tribe” as they call it in the marketing world. Feel free to shoot me a message, and maybe we can discuss future show/writing/creative endeavors. Thank you again for the encouragement. It is always a blessing to know others are swimming upstream as well 🙂

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