embracing slow growth

I’ve always been the slow and steady type. It takes me a long time to get things into my head, and an even longer time to make positive changes in my life. It seems to me that’s the way it has to be. Change happens, over time, as we take action towards our goals. If it happens too fast, it might not stick because we don’t have the foundational experience to support it. If it happens too fast, it might traumatize us because we haven’t built the strength to manage it. Personally, I think it’s better to practice 15 minutes a day consistently, than practice 3 hours once a week. It’s the daily application that moves us forward.

I have the philosophy that as I practice today, I might not see or feel any changes. The fact that I practiced today might not help me next week. But the fact that I practiced today, added with all the other todays I practiced, will make a huge difference 6 months from now.

A perfect example of this is my composing and production skills. Honestly, I knew next to nothing about producing in November 2006. I was sitting at a music conference with some people I had met on a songwriting forum, and I realized that I was talking to people who actually made money with their music. You wouldn’t know their names, but you’ve probably heard their music on shows like America’s Next Top Model, Ugly Betty, CSI, talk shows, etc. I decided, since I wanted to make money with my music too, that I needed to do what they were doing.

Up to then, I had been writing some instrumentals, but had very little in the way of tools or equipment to make them sound good. I wrote my instrumentals as midi with my keyboard or as notation in Band in a Box, and then used free Virtual Instrument (VI’s) plug-ins I downloaded off the internet to create the sounds. I wrote all kinds of stuff this way, but it didn’t have any hope of going anywhere.

After I got home from that conference, I bought my first orchestral program – East West Silver. It was one small section of the orchestra, and all I could afford. It was my Christmas present to myself. The problem was… the computer I had couldn’t run it.

I got a graphic design project, working with my sister, to design a textbook for a local college. I was pretty pissed, actually, to find myself working on it on Christmas Day because of issues with the client getting information and documentation to us. However, that contract, when it paid in January, was just enough to buy the custom-built audio computer that I needed.

After that, every couple of months, as I saved up the money, I added to my sound library. And during that time, I played and played and played and wrote and wrote and wrote. Many of my compositions, even with the new sounds, were still rejected for various reasons. I kept working at it and kept trying, and kept practicing. My hard drive is littered with tracks created and mixed during the next two years. I did produce some acceptable tracks and signed four to a music library – my first deal. I kept writing. I used my membership in TAXI as a measuring stick. If TAXI forwarded a track, I knew I’d done something right. Finally, in late 2008, all that hard work started to pay off, and I signed 10 tracks to another music library. In 2009, I started to sign more tracks still. In September 2009, I was pleased to be accepted by a prominent music library as a composer.

Still I consider this to be only the beginning of my five-year plan to sign enough music to be making a significant amount of money from it. Everything I sign now has the potential of bringing in income down the road.

More than that, though, is the fact that the daily work on music, the daily listening back critically to my own and others work, the daily working with tools, reading about composition and using sample libraries, etc etc… all this adds up to a level of experience that is the foundation for the future. These three years of effort, sometimes feeling like I’d never get it, have begun to pay off. I have much more to learn, more tools to get, more skill to attain. Thankfully. Keeps life interesting!

2005: Coffee Grind
http://www.vikkiflawith.com/audio/Coffee_Grind-7Sep06_hifi.m3u

2009: Data Stream (excerpt)
http://www.vikkiflawith.com/audio/Data_Stream_hifi.m3u

4 comments:

cinderkeys said...

Do you always go through TAXI to submit your work for consideration? Or do you do this directly as well?

Vikki said...

Hi Cinderkeys. In my early days I used TAXI as my measuring stick. It took me a long time to get good enough to get forwarded by them. I considered their screening my standard of excellence, and was reluctant to submit outside of them until I was being forwarded by them. You only get one chance to make a first impression. TAXI was my saving grace that way. Now I am signed with 6 music libraries/publishers, of course I'll submit direct to them, and I submit to TAXI in the hopes of getting forwarded to other companies with whom I can build relationships, and I submit to non-TAXI opps as well. In addition, IMO the TAXI Road Rally is well worth the price of membership. For what I'm doing, for the relationships I'm building, for my business plan, continuing my TAXI membership is a good choice.

cinderkeys said...

I had never thought of using TAXI as a first-impression buffer. Neat idea. I shall file that one away.

CinnamonGirlAlchemy said...

Thank you so much.Your words are so inspiring to me