Category Archives: Do It Yourself
How to write and produce songs yourself.
I am sure we all know some of those “Negative Nellies.”
These are people who complain about how much everything sucks and always seem to have bad things happening to them, about which they complain even more, creating a cycle of negativity doom.
Sometimes they are so bad, they even suck your own life force away and you have to stay away from these people to avoid them bringing you down. My old boss was this way (maybe yours is too?). I had to “fire” him because of it. I just walked away. I decided I was not going to let another person suck my life force away for another second (actually, I gave him a full 30 days notice, but I had already “checked out” the day I dismissed him for being LAME.).
That was the best thing I ever did. Because without another job lined up, this forced me to put my money where my mouth is an pursue my dream to have a successful music business. While working for THE MAN, I had been fearful of doing this because of the risk and the probable significant reduction in income (I laugh at the latter fear now…). But my stress and anxiety was growing every day as I worked for someone who basically represented a DEAD END for me and my life’s dreams. I knew I would literally DIE there, along with my dreams, if I did not leave. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the work. I just didn’t like the person I was working for. He was a “Negative Nellie.”
After I jumped ship on corporate America, my goal with music as one of my income streams was to net a conservative $10K in 2009 performing, recording, songwriting, teaching, etc. I knew I had to start small and growing a successful business does not happen overnight. I wasn’t delusional or unrealistically ambitious. I wanted to be happy and make my dreams come true. Money was secondary, although I knew that I needed to make ends meet. Having goals within your grander vision is essential. It is the bricks and mortar of the dream.
I just recently looked at my spreadsheet and felt a burst of joy to see I had achieved my $10K goal for music stuff in 2009, with a few hundred bucks to spare. We won’t talk about the $8K in business expenses right now (many of which were startup costs, so I don’t sweat them for 2010).
I believe in the POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. It’s not some touchy-feely new age mysterious or divine thing. Sure, I checked out THE SECRET just like everyone else. Some of it was worthwhile. There is POWER in POSITIVE THINKING and I have seen it firsthand. POSITIVE THINKING does bring you what you desire, for a lot of very common sense reasons.
Do I believe it comes from some HIGHER POWER? Heaven’s no! As an ATHEIST, I believe the POWER comes from within. It comes from expelling negativity whenever you notice it and CREATING a POSITIVE REALITY that leads you to your dreams. Once you have a dream in your head, it is a simple process of looking around you and asking “Does this circumstance or situation lead me to my dream?” If it doesn’t, what can you change to remedy that? You can’t just sit around waiting for something to happen. My first step was to FIRE MY BOSS, since he was a severely negative and limiting obstacle in making my dreams reality.
This visualizing and goal setting is essentially the definition of CREATIVITY. You visualize the CREATION and then set about making it come to reality. An artist or a musician knows this well. You have an idea for something great you want to share with the world. Then you learn how to make it REAL. You don’t just sit there. I think a lot of people have a MISGUIDED DREAM of fame and riches. There are lots of ways to make money and get famous. A music career is not the smartest choice if that is your dream. Plus, your priorities will be all wrong and you will be unlikely to succeed. A music career is something that must be pursued for it’s own sake, and everything else flows from that. If your music is GREAT, you might get fame and riches. Statistically very unlikely, but it’s possible. But don’t let that be your focus. Be great at what you love and trust that everything else will work out.
In making my dream a reality, I had a big picture vision. I knew that money wasn’t going to be pouring in the door, but I still had bills to pay. So I created a REALITY. I found rent-paying roommates that I quite enjoy, to offset my costs of living (primarily a mortgage, but also utilities). Before “firing” my boss, I had focused my musical efforts mainly on live performances with my only band GUPPY EFFECT, and a handful of solo gigs. But now I do not limit myself to this. Why should I? I have many musical and non-musical talents that other people need. I teach bass guitar, I write songs and try to get them licensed commercially, and I am even a session bass player in four other local bands that keep the performance income streaming in fairly regularly. I am also by education and work experience a SCIENCE WRITER (my left brain nerdy side). So I found some opportunities in FREELANCE WRITING.
At Thanksgiving, I decided that I wanted to generate more income from writing again. So I set a goal to have at least one writing job interview lined up before the end of 2009. Even I was a little bit amazed when I got a call from a genetic technology company in Madison WI wanting to set up a phone interview with me for a writer position they were offering. It went great and I wasn’t even stressed about it. I think part of it was that I am not pursuing this to get rich or work my way up the corporate communications ladder. I sincerely ENJOY writing and now that MUSIC is starting to come along nicely, it’s time to expand my CREATIVE PURSUITS and if it adds ANOTHER INCOME STREAM, that’s awesome. But I am doing it for the right reasons, not for MONEY.
Again, this represents the POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. There was nothing particularly magical about it. I just visualized the goal and made it happen, by scanning job boards for opportunities I desired and updating and sending out my resume to the ones I liked. Pretty simple stuff. I don’t have the job yet, and I realize I may not get it (though my chances are good…I rocked that interview). But that wasn’t my goal. My goal was to have the interview. Whether I get the job is secondary, just like FAME and FORTUNE are secondary to a career in music performance or SONGWRITING.
I’ll just conclude that there are a few details to all of this I haven’t covered here. For example, I didn’t talk about the POWER OF LESS. Less is sometimes significantly MORE. I’ve attached a list of relevant references below. If you are so busy you feel you don’t even have time to check them out, I would propose there is some imbalance in your personal and work life. All the more reason to at least scan the reviews on these resources. FIGHT THE FEAR! Remember, THE MAN loves your FEAR. It’s all HE‘s got to make you keep quiet and keep working in a life-sucking job you hate. FEAR OF FAILURE, FEAR OF NO MONEY, FEAR OF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY BEING DISAPPOINTED IN YOU. Yeah, you know what I am talking about…
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Here are some CREATIVITY resources for people who want to make their dreams (and not someone else’s) a REALITY.
“Making a Living Without a Job” by Barbara Winter – Barbara is the epitome of a motivational speaker and writer. In fact, it’s her DREAM JOB to help others achieve and she is very successful at it. It’s kind of IRONIC. She is someone who is successfully self-employed writing books on how to become successfully self-employed. Lots of great tips, as well as just positive messages that help dispel the FEAR of pursuing your dreams.
“This Business of Music” by M. William Krasiovsky – It’s the standard TEXT BOOK for any musician who is serious about making a business of their CRAFT. Even amateurs and hobbyists can significantly UP THEIR GAME with this well-written book. E-MAIL ME for other tomes I have found very beneficial to the pursuit of a music career, specifically.
“4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss – This is the book that pushed me over the cliff into “firing” my boss and becoming SELF EMPLOYED. So be careful! It’s persuasive and it is educational. It contains many resources, like how to be more focused and efficient, how to get your tyrannical boss off your case, how to save money, how to make money, and best of all how to OVERCOME FEAR and do the things you have always wanted to do. Also available as an AUDIO BOOK (if you are so busy you don’t even have time to read a book, you need this more than you know!).
“The Power of Less” by Leo Babauta – I first heard about this on NPR. Do you really need to compete in the rat race and have more than the Jones’s? LESS IS MORE! Especially when you are starting a business. Anything that saves time, money, and resources gets you closer to your dreams FASTER! For a simple example, I don’t drink or smoke. I save hundreds of dollars a year by not drinking when I go out to perform or hear music at clubs. And of course smoking is just retarded…why pay a thousand dollars or so every year to let THE MAN kill you? Do the math. $5 for a pack of cigarettes* for a one-pack-a-day smoker = 365 X $5 = $1,825. There’s a lot of other things I could think of to do with $1,825 bucks! (OK, I have done my public service for the day…)
“Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less” by Marc Lesser – Why are people so crazy busy all the time and getting busier by the minute? What are the senseless and stupid things you can cut out of your life for more quality of life? Let’s face it, THE MAN isn’t going to get off your case and make your workload lighter. HIS philosophy is MORE IS MORE and that is never going to change. So you can sit still and hope THE MAN sees the error of his ways. I guess there is always that chance. Or, you can create a NEW REALITY. This is along the same lines as Babauta’s book, with more of an emphasis on NOT DOING unnecessary busy work so you can improve your QUALITY OF LIFE and do the things you actually ENJOY.
“Ignore Everybody” by Hugh McLeod – I haven’t actually read this yet, but it is on my WISH LIST (positive thinking, right?) for Christmas. Then, whadda ya know…Derek Sivers (of CD BABY fame) e-mails me and asks if he can send me a complimentary copy of this book to read and review as it applies to my music. I could not even believe it when he granted that wish come true. I am blessed and honored, and needless to say, I will be reading it and posting my thoughts about its applicability to my music and song writing RIGHT HERE, so stay tuned.
* Yes, I know cigarettes cost more than $5 now…I was being conservative.