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finding your own voice

I have been reading Hugh McLeod’s “Ignore Everybody – And 39 Other Keys to Creativity” in an attempt to apply some of the tips to my own creative and business endeavors.

A lot of the tips in the book revolve around the concept of finding your own creative voice (or schtick) and (sch)ticking to it (sorry…) regardless of what anyone else thinks. If you truly believe in yourself and are willing to put in the hours, you are doing good.

I don’t think you necessarily have to keep your day job, although if you have a good one it does help to pay the bills. But a bad one can kill your creative soul. I really think it depends on what you do, whether you keep a day job.

Hugh McLeod does cartoons on the backs of business cards. It took him a long time, and a BOOK DEAL, to finally achieve success. He claims to still work a day job. His chosen creative pursuit doesn’t lend itself to profitability. And that’s OK. It’s his choice and he remains true to his passion.

But some creative efforts lend themselves to being profitable businesses. Good song writers can get their songs licensed in film and TV for profit without sacrificing their artistry. The song writer retains ownership and the film maker or TV producer “licenses” the right to use it in their film, usually AS IS. Sometimes a song is re-recorded by another artist, but even so the song writer retains the song writing rights and the intellectual property (at least they should), and the performing artist gets artist royalties for the recorded work only. If several artists “cover” a song, the song writer gets paid song writing royalties on every cut.

Functional art is another example of a profitable artistic pursuit. Ceramic ware can be very artistic, yet functional and desirable to consumers. This goes for just about any kind of home and garden type art work too.

I think as long as you are self-employed and not doing your creative thing for someone else’s ends/profits, you are OK. It is when you sell out your own “voice” for what others seek that you begin to lose your soul and your creativity, because no two people share the same vision.

As I was driving home from band practice with one of my bands tonight, I realized that finding your own voice and pursuing it with passion irrespective of what others think is critical.

This particular band has some issues with progress and stagnation, and after reading Hugh McLeod’s “Ignore Everybody – And 39 Other Keys to Creativity”, I began to see why. This band is hung up on trying to sound like what they think people want to hear, instead of trying to find their own unique sound and BE THAT. As a result, the sound they are going for does not jibe with the sound they actually make, and so they think the sound they are making is wrong. Instead, they need to embrace the sound they have within and forego trying to sound like every other mediocre blues/rock operation out there.

And the beauty of it is, if they just did that, they would have a unique sound no one else could hope to emulate. And if there was a niche market for that brand of indie punk rock (that is my sense of the music they are repressing), they would corner the market and be successful at selling records and drawing audiences to shows.

Right now, they think being profitable means selling out to the masses and popular press, but they are conflicted and the Catch 22 is that this confliction will prevent them from ever being successful if they continue on this path, because they aren’t putting forth their true sound and their true sound clashes with the commercial sound they desire.

I am going to explore this topic further with this band going forward. I think they need to unleash their inner fury and stop worrying about what the world will think. The world is full of morons.

So there is an example of applying McLeod’s concepts to my art and business of music. More tomorrow.

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