Photo Courtesy: Fall 2014 Issue of NSAI membership magazine
There is something providentially beautiful about turning around, seeing where you’ve been and then looking around you and realizing everything you have been through has led you right here to this place. Some things are not handed to you on a platter, and in fact, most things aren’t. You have to work hard to build a reputation anywhere and you have to work hard to achieve the goals you set forth for yourself. I feel strongly at times that experiences in my work life (and even my personal life) have led me to my path in music. Here are some highlights that I’ve considered lately…
1. Having jobs that were not ideal and multiple jobs at one time kept me grounded. You have to learn you are really low on the totem pole in the music industry. You can’t think, act or talk like you are a big shot when you have very minimal accreditations on your music resume. You learn that acting like some rockstar doesn’t get you far and doesn’t garner respect from those who have put countless hours in. A good rule of thumb is to let another man’s lips praise you and not your own (Proverbs 27:2). To earn respect in an industry as old as the music industry, it will take awhile in the community. So remember- every choice you make will affect who you are and what others think of you.
2. Working at small businesses and a startup for more than 10 years has taught me how to tackle projects I have never done. If you want to survive in an ever-changing music industry, you have to be versatile. You have to learn to do things you’ve never done and you have to teach yourself how to do some of these things. From setting up an entire sound system to figuring out your best social media campaign approach, you have to be willing to try, learn and possibly fail. I’ve learned a lot from the entrepreneurs i have surrounded myself with in the past ten years of my life. There must be an element of bravery to daily walk into the unknown and tell yourself that it’s going to be ok as an entrepreneur.
3. Finishing college taught me the power and beauty of sticking with something until it was complete. There were times in college I was so exhausted and wanted to quit. When I recorded my first EP and worked a 40 hour a week job, I wanted to quit at times too. But I pushed myself through the exhaustion, kept reaching for the goal and eventually completed a project I could feel really great about. You don’t learn to do the hard things unless you make yourself do the hard things. Commitment and a strong work ethic don’t just happen- they must be cultivated in the days when you don’t feel like it and are mentally, physically and emotionally at your breaking point.
4. Working in so many different types of jobs from food service to education to photography to natural foods to retail has taught me how to work with a plethora of personality types. In the music industry, you meet a host of different people. You must interact with people who are different than you and you must learn to respect others and communicate effectively with them. I’m so thankful to have had the time to hone these interpersonal skills through all of my various interactions from Austin to Nashville and traveling abroad. Your relationships with others will grow your career roots over time, so don’t minimize the effectiveness of cultivating those relationships.
5. Moving to nine places of residence and various states within a 10 year time frame has taught me how to build community and quickly make friends. When you’re a stranger you have to learn to adapt and quickly make friends. I don’t meet many strangers, so thankfully I was blessed with the ability to connect with others around me. I’m thankful to have had to sink or swim by building a support system around me. This has prepared me for building a fan base for my music and connecting to people through my art. Without past experiences, I would not have have those skills that I now need so much.
I hope that no matter who you are, you are able to look back and see the reasons for your life unfolding as it has. Sometimes it’s hard to understand at the moment. But then at times, you turn around, look how far you’ve come and realize there is something pretty spectacular about where you are standing right now. Feel free to tell me about similar experiences you’ve had in the comments below.