So for many years I had these ideas of what I thought my music career would (or should) be. Here’s a basic idea: writing, recording, and performing my music, selling it, marketing and promoting online, and doing touring, lots of touring.
While much of this really fits who I am as a creative artist, this version of my career has not fully materialized.
Sure, I write, record, and perform my music. I have sold my music, and marketed and promoted online. Haven’t so much gone on tour. Although I have played a lot of different venues, for a lot of different types of occasions.
Taking an honest look at who I am, I can see now why this version of a music career hasn’t panned out:
Gigging: I don’t like doing gigs “hoping” for a return, as in hoping to be popular enough to make it work long-term. Playing for promotion or publicity seems challenging, and has never really worked for me. Instead, I generally like to be paid for my time, or have a clear-cut reason for doing a gig if I’m not simply getting paid. Therefore, for most of my gigs, I am essentially a hired gun, who comes into entertain audiences or accompany singers. This is a different world than building a following and then using that following to advance original music.
Also, while the idea of touring has its appeal, in reality, I wonder if I really have the temperament for it. I tend to like routine. I tend to like familiar groups and people. Also, I often need to re-charge, and the simplicity of my life as a relative home-body seems to work quite well, by and large. I don’t mind the idea of touring, but wouldn’t want to have to do it all the time.
Self-promotion: I am a die hard creative, yet I haven’t felt the will, confidence, or desire to put my creations out there aggressively. I haven’t wanted to put them “through the ringer” that way. It just doesn’t seem fun. I like enjoying creating my art, and while I have been very sincere about my desire for my music to do well, something about the follow of going out there in a big way through never clicked.
The Public: I’m probably too sensitive. I have been in the past easily discouraged by other people’s criticisms or reactions, or by difficult situations with difficult people. I find that I often got confused or upset easily by people if they didn’t agree with me. This plus a lack of self-confidence around making my own choices and trusting my own gut made things quite challenging. When you are a music artist, you’re sticking your neck out all the time, you are working with a lot of people, including some who feel that they know better. You need to have a solid inner compass and not get confused by bullshit. It seems that my life now of relative privacy and simplicity helps minimize the kind of difficult situations that so confused me.
Making Money: I’ve had numerous experiences with music or business mentors who were trying to help me become successful. Along the way, I became very frustrated trying to force things to come together. Trying to put out music, sell it, build a fanbase, all that, has not really caught on permanently for me (I will say, with the one notable exception of when I put out my latest piano album “The Cherry Rainbow Piano Experience.”) Meanwhile, I enjoy my current local gigs, performing for schools, retirement homes, special events, and the like. I love working with my music students. Something about working at this “slower” pace on the local level so far seems to suit me better.
Creative Output: One of the biggest challenges I faced in my music career came from my determination to put out my own rap music. Although I spent many years working on this endeavor, my confidence never fully clicked for me to give this the energy it needed to succeed. Meanwhile, although my piano compositions are natural winners that I could easily use to develop a much more substantial music career, my own confusion as I considered these two very different paths often got the better of me. The entire issue of creative output has gotten very muddled in my mind. Often, non-action has been the result.
Relationships: They say show biz is all about relationships. Well, that would definitely explain a lot about why my music career never took off. I have at times been woefully withdrawn and private. I don’t shmooze very well. As I mentioned, I seem to be overly sensitive or take people wrong a lot. Also, I tend to prefer interacting with a smaller number of more familiar people. Sure, I’m enough of an extrovert to give performances for strangers, but all too often, it seems that my tendency to be private has worked against my ability to make a splash out in the bigger community.
There you have it.