be the architect of your own success

Q: Hello, I think you have a great blog. I'm a newbie in the music industry and agree with your points on defining success for yourself and ways to improve as an artist.My situation has been that I'm a solo artist and the people that I've met along the way who offered help (people that have been around for years, a few famous) have done greater harm than good for me. Now it's the end of the year and I feel semi-jaded on how to approach the future with the wounds of my past. How do recommend treating the wounds for a newbie in the industry, so that past wounds don't become future phobias?

A: Well, first I think we have to acknowledge that we all have bad times. We've all had projects fail, or folks take advantage of our lack of experience, songs rejected, unsuccessful gigs.

But I think it crucial not to put the strings of your career or your artistic life in someone else's hands. It's very easy to listen to the propaganda of those who promise (I'll pitch your music, just pay me for a demo) to help you make the 'big time'.

Since it's New Year's in a couple of weeks, why not sit down and map out your own plan. Be the architect of your own life. Figure out objectively where you are now and where you'd like to be. What are your strengths? What do you need to work on?

Can't figure that out? Resource: "The Artist's Way" - it's a work book, do the work, you will find answers you didn't expect.

Define: what does success mean to you? Money, gigs, album, playing out there, what? Get really specific. Give yourself achieveable, measurable goals. Look at your artistic and creative wishes and think about how they could come true. Then set yourself daily, weekly and/or monthly routines that are going to move you towards your goal.

For example.... if one goal is to play out more in 2007... then set some steps up:

- write a killer press kit (resource: Bob Baker,

- get a pro photo done (...check with hairdresser, who mentioned her friend the award winning photographer)

- organize your killer press kit into a EPK (electronic press kit) - this could be updating your web site with the new info & photo & a couple of strong demos

- record a couple of songs for a demo to give to those you're trying to book with

- check out local live music venues that play your kind of music, make a list, and call each of them up

- don't forget to check out open mics & house concerts.... Resource: ;

- if you'd rather not/don't have the skills to play solo, head out to some open mics / songwriting events and network, see if you can hook up with like-minded musicians

- check the (resource) Musician's Atlas & do on-line research to find out about venues & events in and around your area.

- don't forget to work on playing & singing, adding new repertoire, expanding your musical horizons!

Put a to-do list together and do it.

Remember that as a solo artist you are acting as your own booking manager, promoter, bookkeeper, etc. Include research into these areas as part of your plan. Know how to keep your own books (sign your own cheques), book your own gigs, send out your own press kits. Be proactive. Resource: Dan Kimpel's "Networking Strategies for the New Music Business"

In terms of your recovery from the wounds of the past... have a ceremony. Think about what you would like to let go off.... perhaps write it all down on paper, and then shred it.... let it go... it's yesterday. Start from today.

If you have a history of relationships that haven't worked for you, perhaps it's time to look at how you are, what you think, and how you react... that brings these people into your life. I'm not saying blame yourself for their wounding of you.... but I'm saying it's time to grow beyond your programming.

I recommend taking time every single day to spend with yourself, alone. Turn off the cell, the radio, the tv, and be quiet with yourself. Write (as per Julia Cameron), morning pages everyday. And/or, go for a walk every morning. It's crucial you start to hear your own voice, and you can't do that when you are living according to someone else's rules.

You have the strength, skills & resolve to step forward. You don't have to do it all right now. But take a baby step everyday. That's what I do.

Let me know how it goes :)

1 comment:

Abby Rokku said...

Thanks so much for your response to my question.

I think the situation is not as cliche' as it usually goes. Being the architect of one's own success is not always the problem with newbies. From my perspective, when your new in any industry from the boardroom to the bandstand, you have to approach it from a sense of humility being in the position of a student, this is the way you learn. Before I decided to pursue music I knew what I wanted from it and how I define success in overall terms of my life.

More accurately speaking, my problem at that time was that I needed someone to assist me with proper technique and skill. When I took the help offered by people clearly in a POSITION to help- mostly industry professionals, there was always a "spin" on the situation, a situation created to cause delays, personal egos seeking worship from me, and so forth. This often led to going in circles, which led to frustration, which led to very little being accomplished in a year's time. This situation left me burnt out and jaded. Yet somehow music is to me what love is to man and woman, so I can never completely throw my hands up and throw in the towel. Perhaps, this is the flipside of the newbie experience. When those that are "over" you, purposely lead you down a path to nowhere.

As written in my last comment, the question more clearly is, how do you proceed in a traumatized situation when you have both a mental and emotional attachment to music?

You may not know this but with the advice I have read so far in your blog, you are very well a "mother" figure to the babies in the music industry.

Sorry I wrote so much...

I will even add your link to my blog. Thanks much!!!