As many of you know I am the bassist and background vocalist for Mike Leslie Band and very excited to be a part of such a business. Yes, I said business and not band or project. This past year has been quite a difficult one as well as a nice lesson on transitioning my approach to my art. Artists are naturally great at being just that, an artists, but would also be a fool to just expect for that to be enough. If all you want to do is hang around your hometown creating your art on a small scale and feel accomplished in that, well, more power to you. I have nothing against that. This blog isn't for those people. This is intended for those who are willing to work hard and make the changes necessary to take their art to the next level. The level of business. We all love to create art and more importantly NEED that outlet. But it's time to change your approach. It's time to get out of your comfort zone and force a new mindset that will help you to get to your goal quicker than if you are simply creating your art and waiting for something to happen. Waiting for someone to notice. I've wasted a bunch of years chasing after things I thought I wanted/needed. I have come to realize that it was a hinderance.
Don't Appear Desperate
Let's take a second and compare this to a human relationship. You are single and decide to go out several nights a week to look for a individual who fits your criteria for a significant other. You try to not look desperate but let's be honest, they can simply smell it on you. The second you decide you're going to stop looking and trying someone comes out of the woodwork and something sparks. Why does that happen? Well, because while you are "on the prowl" you aren't yourself. You are slightly altering your image, desires and personality to something you think they would be attracted to. The same thing happens for many artists. Let's be honest, we all want our art to be appreciated by as many people as possible and want to reap the financial rewards of our hard work. This being the case we want to make our product appeal to individuals who have the means of getting our art out to those people. This isn't always a bad thing though. Sometimes it can force us to improve our talent and get out of our warm and cushy complacency.
Before you make a change or a decision you need to hold it up against this next phrase and really think about it. You need to constantly be asking yourself, "Is this going to help my business or hinder it?" There is no middle ground with this one, folks. If something is not directly helping your business it is hurting it. Even if it is as simple as something that is taking up a little more of your time each week it is a hinderance. If something costs you a couple more dollars each week (but of course isn't returning profit) it is a hinderance. Cut that stuff out of your life. This goes for the people in our lives as well. Yes, your friends and family. Those people you interact with on a daily basis. Are they supportive of you? Are they willing to tell you when your art sucks as well as encourage you to do better and work harder? Do they get excited when you create something fantastic? Do they share it with their friends as well? If not you probably don't need them in your life. Hold them up to the same standard. "Is this person supporting me or not?" They will all fall on one side of the fence or the other and we know what to do with those that fall on the "non-supportive" side. Cut them loose.
I once had a friend tell me that my music would sell itself and I have found that to be quite untrue. You obviously need to have good music however you also need to make sure people know about your good music. Even if I had the best tasting pizza around I wouldn't be able to just open a pizza shop and make pizzas all day hoping that my business will be filled with people before I run out of money. I would need to make the restaurant warm and inviting, advertise to those who might order out several times a week, and surround myself with a supportive staff who shares my passion for good food and service. You MUST have the unwavering desire for your music to be heard. Without this desire you are involved in a dying business and wasting your time. Hone your skill, make your product visually appealing, and make subtle changes to the art that is 100% YOU.
Go to concerts and events where other artists who are doing things right are playing or hanging out and start meeting people. Face-time is one of the best ways to get people to listen to your music or experience your art. It's too easy to forget an email or Facebook message but when they see your face and shake your hand they will remember. Hold an interesting conversation with them and talk about things that will stand out to them. SMILE and be positive so they will want to speak with you again. Remember names. Write them down as soon as you leave a conversation. This is VERY important. Never stop making friends.
All of these things are necessary for someone who is looking to make their art a business and I suggest you start now. Stop wasting more time with things that don't matter. Set your goals for this year and accomplish them. Ready? GO!