Reflecting on Inside Home Recording: The Inside Scoop

Reflecting On Inside Home Recording: The Inside ScoopI made mention of Inside Home Recording recently, and I thought it might be fun to reflect back on the podcast that gave a voice to a community of home recordists online.

I can’t take credit for its beginnings, nor can I really speak to the experience of most of its hosts, including Paul Garay, James Devon or Derek K. Miller, though I have immense respect for each of them.

However, I did have the chance to develop a friendship with Dave Chick, and I will get to that a little later.

My involvement with the podcast was first as a guest co-host, and then as an official co-host, but unfortunately it was all towards the end of the lifespan of the show, and I was only part of a few episodes.

In this post, I’m not sure that I can really do justice to the impact that the show had, the community that rallied around it, or the tremendous amount of work that surely went into every episode, but what I can do is share my experience, so here we go.

How I Discovered the Podcast

I began my personal growth journey back in 2007, and ever since then I have continually affirmed the value of self-education.

I don’t think school teaches you everything you need to know about life. In fact, things like people skills, leadership, budgeting, coping with stress, and a myriad of other critical subjects were merely glanced over (if they were mentioned at all).

Consequentially, I found a lot of value in podcasts, and in 2010 – when I first discovered IHR – I was at a point in my life when I wanted to learn more about home recording.

I don’t remember what keyword I used to find it in iTunes, but in retrospect, it was the perfect thing. I needed to know more specifically about home recording.

At the time, I was somewhat skeptical that anyone could teach me something about audio recording via the audio format (more on that in a second), but I was nevertheless open to giving it a go.

So much of the nitty-gritty of home recording is acquiring gear, connecting cables, installing software, finding kit that plays well together, setting up mics, and other otherwise un-sexy technical things.

And when you’re all set up and ready to go, the hands-on aspect of recording is so much more tactile, visual – and in my case – instinctual; especially when we’re talking about mixing.

So, even before I started listening to the podcast, I think I was aware of its inherent limitations, and the fact that it probably couldn’t teach me a lot of the “un-sexy” technical things.

My First Impressions

As I started listening, I immediately liked and related to the hosts – James and Paul – and was simply astounded by the immense following they had right out of the gate (I had been podcasting for a year at that point; why in the world didn’t I have an audience!?).

Moreover, the hosts were entertaining, and they covered subjects that were genuinely exciting and fun to think about. I think I can get into this, I thought.

And, surprisingly, I was actually learning something! Sure, they weren’t teaching me anything about cabling, but I picked up a lot about sound frequencies, microphones, acoustics, VST plugins, outboard gear, and more. I took a lot of that with me, and it has benefited me greatly.

I started devouring the content, and I found out that it was only a few episodes in that James left the podcast and Derek came onboard.

Derek may not have been the most talented guy, but he certainly was relatable. What he lacked in knowledge or talent, he more than made up for in enthusiasm, and his homebrew projects could get anyone excited about getting their own creative projects rolling!

This is a quality I greatly admired about him. I grew up in Japan, and without telling that entire story right now, this is something I also observed and appreciated about the Japanese culture. They could get you excited about virtually anything, because they would get really granular with it. I think maniac (maniaku) is the term they used to describe that.

Anyway, I never had a chance to get to know Derek, but he will be sorely missed. His bout with cancer lasted a while, and he usually wasn’t too shy about sharing how much it sucked.

My Journey as a Home Recordist

It’s a bit of a long story, but it’s worth noting that I was already the owner of a home studio when I started listening to IHR. I just didn’t have much of an idea of how to use the gear.

At that point, I had certainly messed around with GarageBand, and did some basic podcast recording and editing, but that was more or less the extent of my knowledge.

I was co-founder of Academe Design, a graphic design company, and since Adam – my roommate and the other co-founder – and I shared a mutual interest in music, we also started a subsidiary called Red Flame Records.

So, we had our own home studio, and Adam was generally the one who oversaw the music projects. I was always ready to contribute as a session musician or producer, but as far as sound engineering went, I was pretty green.

I suppose that’s not the whole truth, because Adam and I did a lot of recording leading up to that point, and even had a digital 8-track recorder for several years before we ever moved over to a software solution. When I really think about it, the new part – at least for me – was the software.

Fortunately, thanks to my experience with podcasting, I was progressively getting a lot more efficient at editing. When I learned about VST plugins, a whole new world opened up to me. As I started taking on a few clients, I grew more and more confident in my ability as an engineer.

When I stop and think about it, a lot of that fell into place because of the time I spent listening to Inside Home Recording. It really paid off when I had the chance to mix, master, engineer and co-produce an album.

Eventually, as Adam got married and started a new life with his wife, he decided that he wanted to leave the company in my (shaky) hands. It wasn’t easy for me to figure out what to do with it, but in time I decided to ditch the graphic design part of it, and that’s how I became the sole proprietor of Red Flame.

With Red Flame, I attempted to find a new partner, and also had a podcast that was beginning to sound a lot like IHR. I guess I liked it so much that I almost modeled my own podcast (which was intended as a lead generation tool for the business) after it.

Today, Red Flame is simply the umbrella under which I operate and create various projects (like this one).

How a Vision Became Real

2011 was a bit of a blur – especially the early part – because my three roommates “systematically” got married one by one and moved out of my home (from about 2008 to 2010). I was not in a good place financially, and was getting behind on mortgage payments. That’s how I ended up working five jobs.

I was pulling 55-hour weeks, but in a way it was much more than that, because I was driving all around the city tending to different matters and working weekends too. The time at home was no joyride either, but that’s a whole other story.

I couldn’t seem to get ahead, and things were looking desperate. However, the tide started to turn in July of 2011.

I met some people who helped me to get a business education, I heard an audio program that changed my life, I was able to refinance my home and put some money back in my pocket, I had an exciting new idea for a business, and I was going to be going on a mini tour with up-and-comer Jonathan Ferguson.

Everything was hitting me fast and hard. Opportunities started coming left, right and center. Because I had been gunning it in the first half of the year, I opted to take a two-week vacation in August. The first half was the previously mentioned mini tour, and the second half was time alone outside of the city.

Most people have heard of a Canadian Rockies tourist trap called Banff, even if they’ve never been to it. However, in between Calgary and Banff, there’s a nice town in the mountains called Canmore (which also appeals to tourists, but not as much), where I decided to take some time to recoup (I later headed out to Red Deer).

While in Canmore, I found a trail to explore, and went for a walk. I listened to podcasts on that walk.

I remember that day, because I ended up walking for much longer than I ever intended to. I had read that the trail was essentially a big circle, but I never stopped to figure out how long it would take me to complete that circle, and somewhere along the line, I completely lost track of where the main path was! Then, it started raining too. Long story short, I ended up having to turn back.

But there’s another reason why I remember that day. As I was walking along, I was listening to IHR.

My mind does this thing sometimes – and maybe you’ve experienced it too – where it’ll begin constructing a day-dream so real that you can’t distinguish it from reality.

On that day, I was imagining being a guest on IHR. I can’t tell you why, but it just felt so real that I thought it was inevitable that it would happen.

Manifestation

I know that this all sounds really woo-woo, but it set into motion a sequence of events that pulled it all together.

You can call it God, the Universe, the Higher Power… whatever you want. I truly believe in the power of focused visualization. However, I’ve found that it has to be all-consuming. You can’t casually visualize and expect something to happen. You have to add more fuel to the fire (and take action)!

First, I asked Dave Chick to be on my podcast. I think I had tried getting in touch with the guys at IHR before, so I had no idea if I would get a reply, but to my surprise, Dave promptly responded (in fact, it sounded like I was actually on his list of people to touch base with).

First, I had him on my podcast. Then, he had me guest host on IHR. Clearly that experience left a lasting impression on him, because he felt I was a good fit for the show.

I didn’t necessarily feel I had the experience to justify it, but when I thought about Derek and how relatable he was, I figured maybe I could do a good job too. Moreover, I could spend time in research, and I could keep upgrading my skills.

If Derek was sort of the jack-of-all-trades but master-of-no-thing, I was the amateur home recordist heavily weighted towards guitar player. I had done a ton of experiments with guitar tones, and that was really my main thing.

Anyway, I really enjoyed my time working with Dave. Up until that point, I wasn’t really part of any one online community (especially as a podcaster), but had sort of found a nice niche with IHR.

Afterthoughts

When Dave and I were recording an episode that never saw the light of day, I was just about to move out of my house, and that was an emotional event, partly because it meant leaving my home studio behind.

Refinancing allowed me to elongate my time at that house, but it seems I was ultimately destined to change focus and pursue different avenues for a while. Despite my best efforts, expenses continued to mount, and selling my house became an inevitability.

Sadly, the WordPress install on the IHR domain became corrupt, and neither Dave nor I had the patience, time, or technical knowledge to dedicate to it. Dave was also hired to do some traveling and blogging work if I remember correctly.

Ultimately, who am I to say that that wasn’t the best outcome possible? Maybe IHR would have taken away from my life or Dave’s life (or both of our lives). Podcasting is fun, but it can also become a burden when you’re trying to meet regular deadlines.

So that’s my take on IHR. I guess I could have gotten more granular, but I felt it more important to relate to you the key points of the story.

What do you think?

James, Paul, Dave or Steve (Herringer) – if you guys happen to read this – what are your most cherished memories of IHR? What are you guys up to now?

I’d love to continue this discussion in the comments below!

7 Steps You Can Take to Build a Successful Music Marketing Campaign

7 Steps You Can Take to Build a Successful Music Marketing CampaignIn an ideal world, all of your marketing activities would be connected to a bigger campaign.

In other words, you shouldn’t be doing your marketing at random, because if you are, it’s not leading to a specific objective.

This is what leads to thoughtless spamming and aimless begging for attention. You know, like “Check us out!” or “Buy our album!” or “Vote for us!”

There’s a time and a place for call to actions, but you shouldn’t use them as an engagement strategy.

In order to build a successful campaign, you need to start with your goals in mind and let them inform your next steps.

A good music marketing campaign will require you to think about your overall objectives and create an obvious and straightforward structure for their fulfillment.

So, let’s take a look at the seven steps you need to take to build a successful campaign.

Step 1 – Get Focused

Musicians and entrepreneurs alike tend to have a lot of different projects and ideas they want to pursue.

Unfortunately, this can get in the way of gaining clarity on immediate goals.

I’m not saying that it’s easy – or necessarily possible – to be completely streamlined, but I do think you can organize your priorities in such a way that enables you to remain focused on the task at hand.

For example, I recently wrote out all of the projects I’m in the midst of completing on my whiteboard.

This helped me to see where all of my time and mind space was going.

This step alone is highly valuable, because you’ll free yourself from having to track all of your projects in your mind.

Then, I forced myself to pick one project to work on right now. I know, it sounds like torture, right?

Project Focus

This is my evolving and revolving list of projects.

But you have to think about the opportunity cost that comes with spreading yourself thin. You’ll end up blocking out a lot of the great ideas and insights that could come from being sharply focused.

If you want to launch a successful music marketing campaign, make sure to hone in on a single focus at any given time.

Step 2 – Set Goals

I know, I know, it sounds pretty trite by now, especially if you’ve been following along with the blog or the podcast for any length of time.

But I know all too well the importance of having clearly defined goals, and without that, your music marketing campaign doesn’t really stand a chance.

Isn’t that a scary thought? What this means is that if you have no rails for your project, you don’t really know how or when it got started, and you never know when it ends!

The project can go on aimlessly in perpetuity, accomplishing very little or nothing in the process.

A specific timeframe makes it much easier for you to track your progress.

I have conducted a variety of different experiments with marketing campaigns, and this year I’ve been trying out a lot of different things on social media sites – in 30 day increments – to see what works.

StumbleUpon Experiment

My StumbleUpon experiment got some pretty interesting results.

If I know the campaign is only going to last for 30 days, I know exactly how to measure my results; especially if I started with specific goals in mind.

I also know that I have to hit it pretty hard to see any kind of result in a 30 day timeframe.

Your campaigns should probably last more like 90 days, 180 days, or maybe even a year!

But when you know how long it’s going to last, you can also figure out what you need to do on a daily basis to work towards your goals. That’s key.

Make sure to put your goals down into writing, even if you save them on a digital platform later.

Step 3 – Make a Plan

PlanningSo you have your goals. Excellent; but I’m guessing you haven’t made a plan for how you’re going to achieve them yet.

This is why goals are so often missed; people never take the time to construct a plan that’s easy to follow and execute on!

So what does a plan look like? Well, that depends entirely on what you’re trying to accomplish.

But let’s just say that you’re trying to market your upcoming album.

Pre-release is the best time to plan, because most artists tend to begin marketing after the release instead of before. Big mistake!

If you wait until after the fact, you’ve lost the valuable opportunity to tease the release and get some interest in it before it ever comes out.

If you do it right, you should have a lot of people interested in pre-sales.

Your music marketing campaign might include a crowdfunding campaign, social media, blogging, YouTube videos, an album release party, tour dates, and so forth.

You need to figure out exactly what mediums you’re going to use, how often you’re going to show up in those places, and what kind of message you’re going to send out.

The point is to break down your goals into digestible chunks that you can handle on a daily basis. Those items would then become your to-do list.

Get your plan in order before moving onto…

Step 4 – Get Help

I’m convinced that I don’t have all of the best ideas. Crazy, right?

But here’s the thing; I can make a pretty good marketing plan all on my own, but others might have other ideas to contribute, making my plan great instead just merely good.

This is a step I might have a tendency to glance over as I think about making a plan, because I wrongfully assume that everyone thinks this way, but that may not be the case.

So, either way it’s worth mentioning.

Your brain can only take you so far, especially if you don’t have a wealth of experiences to draw upon.

Get together with trusted friends, ask other successful people you know, form a mastermind, or seek the help of experts.

Cooperation

Sometimes, the help of experts can be obtained entirely for free. You can find blog posts, podcast episodes and videos that talk about the things you might want to know more about as you put together a music marketing campaign.

You have a lot of options, so you have no excuses for skipping over this step.

Yes, it may take you in different directions. You might be forced to cross items off of your list. Your brilliant inspirations might turn out to be dumb. You’ll find that out as you begin to engage in conversation with others.

It’s totally okay if you have to make some revisions. The process of refinement is a necessary one, and it gives you a chance to leverage the strengths of others.

Life’s not meant to be lived in isolation, right? Everyone needs community. If others can help you succeed, they get to take ownership over that success too.

So don’t hesitate in reaching out. You never know who might be willing to help unless you ask.

Step 5 – Take Action

Taking ActionDon’t get stuck at the planning stage. You don’t need a perfect plan, and moreover, you’ll probably never have one.

A good plan now is better than a perfect plan later.

If you never take action on your plan, it serves to reason that you won’t be successful with your campaign either, right?

Failure is always a possibility, but success is never a possibility unless you do something.

If you have properly defined goals and rails for your campaign, you’ll be able to track it.

But don’t worry about looking at your results until later, and by later I mean when you’re done!

You really have no idea how well something is going to work until you have gone through the entire process.

Regardless of how things may appear at first, or even when you are half way through your campaign, you just don’t know what opportunities may come until the very end!

Look, you’re the one that set the goals, so you thought that this was a good idea in the first place. You made a plan for their achievement, because you believed that if you did the right things, you would get the results you’re after.

Quitting prematurely will only serve to reinforce doubt in your own mind.

See your campaign to the end. This will give you the data you need to make the necessary tweaks for your next campaign.

What you learn from your first campaign will prove invaluable to your next campaign, and so on.

Step 6 – Evaluate & Adapt

This is the stage at which you can evaluate your results.

You’ve set your goals, you’ve made your plan, and you’ve finished your campaign.

Now you can take a look at what happened, what didn’t happen, and what you could have done better.

Having a beginning and an end to your campaign is crucially important, because otherwise you have nothing to measure, and you want your campaign to be as measureable as it can possibly be!

If your goal was to sell a certain number of albums, did you?

If you wanted to drive a certain amount of traffic to your website, did you use a tool like Google Analytics to track it?

If you wanted to get more ‘likes’ for your Facebook page, did you make good use of the insights they provide you with?

Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights are incredibly detailed.

Without data, you have no way of improving upon your strategies.

Your campaign is probably too ambiguous if you can’t measure it.

It’s okay if you didn’t set it up right the first time around. The idea is to tweak, adjust and make another go at it.

But next time you’ll want to know exactly what you’re after, and if that wasn’t clear the first time around, you probably didn’t have obvious goals.

Also, your first few campaigns may not do much for you. That’s okay, because maybe you just haven’t been able to capture the attention of the right people yet!

There’s no question that many of my experiments and campaigns have fizzled. I knew going in that they might not do much for me. But I figured that if I experimented long enough, I would eventually find some things that worked for me.

Doing the same things expecting different results is insanity, yes? So figure out what you could do differently and better next time.

Step 7 – Repeat

RepeatOnce you’ve finished your campaign, it’s time to go back to step 1.

You have to get focused, set your goals, make a plan, get help, take action, and adapt & evaluate all over again.

If you were sufficiently focused the first time around, then that step should be easy.

Likewise, the other steps should become clearer and more defined every time you do this.

If you run enough music marketing campaigns, it serves to reason that you will get better at it over time.

But you’ll never reach that level unless you give yourself a fair chance to experiment and improve. That’s key.

Final Thoughts

The steps outlined here should help you to build your music marketing campaign, but the exact details and framework for your campaigns are entirely up to you.

There are a variety of marketing tactics you can use to get to where you want to go. There are many different goals that are worthy of pursuing.

If you treat each campaign as an experiment, I believe you will learn a lot.

It’s when we treat it like a do-or-die that we tend to get ourselves in trouble.

Think of it this way; if your self-image and confidence is tied to your ability to succeed with your campaign (whatever that means to you), there is always a chance that you will fail.

Don’t forget that you make the rules. This is a winnable game if you make learning your highest priority.

You are in charge, and the game is for you to define, so you may as well make it a game that you can win.

What do you think? Are there any missing steps that you see?

Have you conducted your own music marketing campaign, and if so, what did you learn from that experience?

Let us know in the comments section below!

6 Podcasts I've Appeared On (Other Than My Own)

6 Podcasts I've Appeared On (Other Than My Own)

I know, this probably seems like a self-indulgent post, and – I guess – to some extent it is.

However, do keep in mind that the podcasts I’m discussing here are probably going to get more love out of this than I am. Yeah, I’m cool with that.

It’s funny to reflect and see how things have changed, and what has come of a lot of the relationships I’ve been built over time.

Anyway, let’s get to those podcasts.

1. CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast

CD Baby DIY Musician PodcastI almost forgot to mention this one, because it’s been so long since I appeared on the CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast. However, you can see that I made mention of it in the archives.

And I use the term “appear” loosely, because they basically just used my comment and answered it on the show.

I don’t think my comment came across terribly intelligently either. Oh well, I’m happy to admit my shortcomings on my journey towards creative freedom. At least they decided to use and answer my comment.

If you’ve been a long-time podcast listener, you know that I had the chance to interview Kevin Breuner from the DIY Musician Podcast, and that is one of my prouder moments.

2. Inside Home Recording

Inside Home RecordingThe Inside Home Recording website is all but gone, and the podcast can only be found and listened to on some of the podcast directories that exist across the web.

In 2012, I became the official co-host of IHR, but unfortunately, that only lasted for a couple of episodes. At the time, I was moving out of my house and tearing down my home studio.

Dave Chick – who had been running the podcast by himself until I came along – got hired on to do some blogging work for a major company and also had a traveling schedule to fulfill (if I remember correctly).

Oh yes, and the website was having major WordPress hiccups, such that logging in became impossible.

Dave and I have not chatted in a while, but still remain on good terms. I have no idea if Inside Home Recording will ever be revived, but it was a really good thing while it lasted, and being on the show was a dream-come-true for me.

3. Musicgoat Fan Finder Podcast

Corey KoehlerMusicgoat Fan Finder Podcast invited me the Musicgoat Fan Finder Podcast for his episode on blogging, and I believe that was the first time we ever chatted over Skype.

I don’t think him and I could ever just talk for a few minutes, because we are too much in the same realm to not have a lot in common.

He’s huge into marketing, and I’m always interested in learning more about it. He’s a musician, and so am I. He has a music marketing blog, and so do I.

Anyway, if you’re a musician and you haven’t really figured out the blogging thing yet, the aforementioned episode is a must-listen.

4. The Spark & The Art

The Spark & The Art Creativity Podcast

Sean Harley and I are friends, there are no qualms about that.

Still, I was glad to be invited onto his show, and look forward to making another appearance when the time is right.

When he had me on his show, I think he really wanted to know what sort impact my life in Japan had on my music. That makes sense, because it makes for good radio.

However, I don’t think I was able to give him a satisfactory answer. What I will add here is that I grew up with a lot of great music, and came to love Japanese artists like B’z, CHAGE&ASKA, and others.

Does their music inspire me? Absolutely. However, I did not start writing songs or learning the guitar until I returned to Canada in 1997. Bands and artists like Collective Soul, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Van Halen had the biggest impact on me when I was first getting started.

5. The Empire Podcast

The Empire Podcast

Well, this wasn’t so much an appearance as it was an honorary mention.

You see, I got a great insight from their podcast and wanted to share it here, so I made mention of Empire Flippers in this blog post.

Then, they made mention of me in their ego-boosting social proof section (thanks, guys!) on one of their shows.

Empire Flippers is a site where you can buy and sell quality websites. Am I considering buying and selling sites? Not right now, but I certainly was at one point.

The cost of keeping multiple web properties seems to be going up, and just renewing domains has become rather ridiculous as of late. But that’s a whole other topic…

6. The Fizzle Show

The Fizzle Show

In case you didn’t know, the guys over at Fizzle are curently looking for people to contribute intros. I sent mine in about a month ago, and it recently got featured on episode 94.

They didn’t mention my name in that episode (oops, I must have broken protocol somehow), but the link love has been pretty sweet (thanks, guys!).

I really appreciate The Fizzle Show and look forward to it every Friday. It’s often the highlight of my week as the content really resonates with me and what I’m doing.

I have also checked out their membership community and courses, and I must say I was very impressed. I am not an affiliate of Fizzle, but maybe I should become one, because now they’re getting free advertising!

Final Thoughts

I don’t really have more to say, but I look forward to being on more podcasts in the future.

If you’d like to collaborate, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Any thoughts? What podcasts have you appeared on?

If you feel like leaving a comment, awesome, that’s what the comments section is for (see below)!

Problem-Solving: An Essential Skill for Music Entrepreneurs

I was at the side of the road, sitting in the cold, frantically calling up road-side assistance.

In my car, I had just experienced a phenomenon similar to running out of gas, only there was still plenty of fuel left in my tank.

I wasn’t sure what to make of it; I just knew that my car had malfunctioned.

I had just left a friend’s place, and probably could have called him up and asked for help, but for some reason I didn’t. Maybe I felt embarrassed, or, maybe my pride got in the way.

I had been sitting there for about 20 minutes waiting for road-side assistance, so on a whim I decided to try the ignition again.

Surprisingly, not only did my car start up, it seemed to function normally again. I decided to continue my journey home.

Alas, I was forced to stop at the side of the road when the same thing happened again.

Then, like before, I waited for another 15 to 20 minutes, and started my car again. It functioned normally for a while, and again slowly fizzled out.

I must have repeated that process four or five times before I finally arrived at home safely. It was a long journey.

The Unexpected Becomes Urgent

This is the type of scene that plays out in life more often than you would think.

You’re going about your day, and you expect it to turn out exactly like yesterday, only something unexpected suddenly turns up.

It throws a wrench in your plans and makes the trivial immediately urgent.

You are now forced to deal with whatever problem lies before you.

Foresight & Anticipation

Sometimes, the things that morph from insignificant into the urgent can be prevented.

For example, if you bring your car in for regular maintenance and repair sessions, you could avoid breakdowns like the one I experienced.

In this instance, I was already bringing my car in for regular checkups, so no amount of foresight or anticipation could have prevented the issue.

However, there are many times when spending the money, the energy, the effort, or whatever is required – earlier rather than later – would be less expensive.

Back to the Story

I brought my vehicle into the dealership, where they diagnosed my car.

Apparently, my transmission was defective, and had to be replaced. “Fortunately”, they told me, “it’s under warranty.”

Fantastic. The only problem was that I had numerous opportunities lined up on my calendar, including live performances and teaching gigs. I needed a way to get around.

So I decided to rent a car. It wasn’t going to be cheap, but the dealership told me that replacing the transmission would only take two weeks, so I was prepared to offset the costs with the work I already had on my calendar.

The only problem was that my car was not ready after two weeks. When all was said and done, it took six weeks for them to fix it!

Suffice to say, I racked up a hefty bill between the rental and the repairs, but that’s another story for another time.

Problem-Solving

I’m sure you’re beginning to see the moral of the story here. When my car broke down, I solved the problem by renting a car.

Looking back, though, I could have dealt with the issue a lot better. For example:

  • I could have mitigated rental costs by renting a car only on the days I absolutely needed it. I ended up paying for the entire six weeks.
  • I could have bought a used car on the cheap and used it while I was waiting for my car to be fixed.
  • I could have taken advantage of public transportation for outings that were close to home.
  • I could have borrowed a friend’s car. This may have required a lot of calling around.
  • I could have used a combination of the above methods.

What I want to stress here is that we need to train ourselves to see beyond the obvious.

Hollywood often depicts people making unthinkable decisions (i.e. stripping for “quick money”, stealing when things go awry financially, violating personal morals to fit in, etc.), when there were plenty of alternatives they could have chosen from.

I’m usually shaking my head in response to these scenes, but hey, it’s just entertainment, right?

Wrong. See, the stats show that people, on average, watch five to six hours of TV every night! So where do you think their conditioning and programming are coming from?

It’s scary to think that people make these types of poor decisions every day, but they do. We do.

Thinking Outside the Box

The truth of the matter is that problem-solving isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does require practice.

You have to force yourself to see beyond the choices in front of you. At times, you may even need to ask trusted friends or do some research.

For me, problem-solving and thinking outside the box has become my default mode of operation. However, just because it’s obvious to me doesn’t mean it’s obvious to others.

What do you do when you get a flat? What happens if you lose your job? What if your significant other leaves you?

Every situation is a little different, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

But that’s exactly the point. You have to make decisions based on your situation.

However, you may have to take yourself out of the circumstance to see the bigger picture.

If there’s too much emotion involved in your decision-making, then you are liable to make bad choices.

Final Thoughts

In entrepreneurship, new problems arise all the time. If you don’t get good at dealing with the challenges before you, you could end up spinning your wheels.

Next time a challenging situation comes up – and it will – remember to take a moment to think about the consequences of the decision you are about to make.

Then, take a look at the alternatives. At this stage, there is no wrong or right. Get all of your ideas down on paper if you must.

As I noted earlier, sometimes a combination of those ideas could present an eloquent solution.

What do you think? Are you good at seeing the alternatives in every situation? Could you become a more effective problem-solver?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Interested in Learning More About this Topic?

The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship: 2018 EditionIf you’re looking for all the latest information on music entrepreneurship, and you’d like to explore this subject in more detail, we recommend checking out David Andrew Wiebe’s latest book, The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship: 2018 Edition.

In addition to everything covered in the original guide, there are fresh insights, new sections and experts quotes, stats, and bonus content in the short volume.

Don’t miss out on cutting-edge information that could help you go beyond in your musicpreneurship career.

Order on Amazon

Neither Music Nor Entrepreneurship Are Intellectual Pursuits

There’s something I’ve noticed about skilled musicians; we tend to be good critics.

In a sense, the better the critic you are, the faster you can grow as a musician.

If you are conscious enough to see where the holes are in your own playing, you can also figure out where you need to improve.

Self-improvement is where being a good critic pays off. Applying that to every area of life, however, can be problematic.

Let me explain.

No One Has Ever Erected a Statue for a Critic

And no one ever will.

Being a critic doesn’t win you any friends. It doesn’t make you more relatable or approachable.

I can appreciate your pursuit in achieving better thinking, but better thinking only achieves better results when it is applied correctly.

If your mental resources are directed towards poking holes in the thoughts of others, then I can guarantee you that you are wasting your brains.

When you’re trying to match your wit to someone else’s, comparison is inevitable, and neither music nor business is about comparison.

If it was, everybody would succeed uniformly, everyone would be at the same skill level, and everyone would grow exactly the same. But they don’t, do they?

The point here is that you aren’t going to make worthwhile connections being a critic. You aren’t going to have any more impact on the world by constantly criticizing.

Art is Still Art

Whether you like the art that someone else has created, it is still art. Even if you think it’s hogwash, there’s nothing saying that it didn’t take someone significant effort to create.

Since the content I create is in the music entrepreneurship space, I pay attention to a lot of other blogs; in specific, the comments section of those blogs.

The comments section fuels a lot of the content I create here, because it reflects the thoughts of those who are a part of that community. Plus, it’s dealing with the reality of someone’s career rather than the hypothetical.

But it often saddens me to see the kind of comments that are left on posts, because so many of them are throwaway, poke-a-hole-in-yours, contrarian, critical comments.

You must realize that someone took time out of their day to form their thoughts and put them into writing. For whatever reason, they thought it was important enough to share with the world.

They’re doing something that you’re not doing as a critic; it’s called creating.

I’m all for constructive criticism, but if your objective is to tear someone else (or their creations) down, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

When I leave a comment on a post, I usually begin it with “thank you”, because I know that it took effort.

Even if I want to leave some constructive feedback or don’t agree with everything that was said in that post, I believe beginning in this manner creates an atmosphere more conducive to profitable discussion.

Criticism Won’t Make You More Successful

If being a better critic meant success, I’m sure a lot more musicians would be successful. The reason they aren’t is because it doesn’t. It might even hurt their attempts to build their career.

The thing about criticism is that anybody can do it. The thing about creativity is that not everyone can do it.

Don’t get me wrong; anyone that truly applies themselves to be creative can be. But not everyone is passionate about making music, and not everyone will choose to express themselves creatively.

Sometimes, musicians feel that they will come out looking superior if they put someone else down. Unfortunately, it just reveals insecurity on the part of the critic.

Skill level and talent have nothing to do with success. I’m sure you know someone that would already be successful if that’s what mattered most.

Showing up, doing the work, and persevering in spite of hardship is what makes someone successful.

Final Thoughts

Based on everything I’ve experienced and seen, I don’t think being a critic will benefit you in any tangible way.

An intellectual urinating contest may have its place (philosophy, for example), but in music and entrepreneurship, it comes down to applying yourself.

The puzzle pieces are out there, and it’s up to you to put them together.

Don’t look down on someone for trying. Give them grace, because you were once a beginner or an armature too.

In music, and in business, it’s about being a person that others hold in high regard. If you give value, that value will invariably return to you.

What do you think? Should musicians ease up on their criticism of others? Is criticism a veil for insecurity?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Interested in Learning More About this Topic?

The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship: 2018 EditionIf you’re looking for all the latest information on music entrepreneurship, and you’d like to explore this subject in more detail, we recommend checking out David Andrew Wiebe’s latest book, The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship: 2018 Edition.

In addition to everything covered in the original guide, there are fresh insights, new sections and experts quotes, stats, and bonus content in the short volume.

Don’t miss out on cutting-edge information that could help you go beyond in your musicpreneurship career.

Order on Amazon