Yesterday’s Answers Might Not be Today’s

Yesterday’s Answers Might Not be Today’s

Most if not all marketers claim their courses are tested, proven, and foolproof.

To be fair, they’d be tone deaf to say otherwise, lest they desire less credibility and fewer sales.

But how many times have you followed their strategies, methodologies, and advice to a tee, only to find your results aren’t anything resembling what was promised?

Is there something wrong with the product? The way you applied the method? Your enthusiasm or lack thereof? The market you chose? The fact that you don’t look and sound like the expert teaching the material?

Knowledge is Past Based

People always seem to go gaga over data-backed, science-based, deeply researched pieces.

Marketing guru and serial entrepreneur Neil Patel says:

If you want to increase user engagement on your blog, generate more social shares, increase click-through rates, acquire more customers and drive sales, try switching content strategies to the data-driven blog post.

And yet, the part that we consistently miss is the fact that knowledge is past based. It is not rooted in anything other than observations, experiments, and opinions that have consistently proven true over a period.

As mathematician and philosopher Albert North Whitehead said:

The only use of a knowledge of the past is to equip us for the present. The present contains all that there is. It is holy ground; for it is the past, and it is the future.

At first brush, this might seem crazy. But think about it:

  • Observations are used to confirm reality.
  • Experiments are used to verify hypotheses.
  • Opinions are used to form data.

When a marketer says something is proven, all they’re really saying is that their method has worked for them and a select group of their students. Nothing more. It doesn’t mean their course is going to work for you.

Further, in a fast-paced, ever evolving field like web development, best practices and approaches change almost overnight. And this goes for digital marketing as a creative in any capacity.

New Answers in New Places

There’s a reason yesterday’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter’s users are today’s TikTok, Medium, Substack, and Clubhouse users.

Marketers are often looking to gain early adopter’s advantage, to be sure – and musicians are quick to embrace the new as well – but people’s interests also shift with time.

Misha Ketchell, editor of The Conversation admits the reason people leave a site like Facebook is a multi-layered, complex issue:

Many of those who delete Facebook speak of widely recognized reasons for leaving the platform: concerns with its echo chamber effects, avoiding time wasting and procrastination, and the negative psychological effects of perpetual social comparison. But other explanations seem to relate more to what Facebook is becoming and how this evolving technology intersects with personal experiences.

Regardless, we know that people migrate, just as we saw with MySpace.

“Today’s blogging is vlogging,” “Facebook is for boomers,” “Clubhouse will overtake podcasting,” the migrants say, parroting a catchphrase or meme they saw somewhere.

These views may be shared by many, but they aren’t necessarily true, even if they are true to the personality that’s embraced YouTube, the millennial that’s shunned Facebook, or the musician who came across experts on Clubhouse discussing concepts they’d never heard before.

These perspectives don’t need to be true. It’s more a matter of what is experienced by the end user, who found answers in new places they apparently couldn’t find in old ones, even if they were always there.

It is plausible, of course, that you may find success in new places you couldn’t create in old ones. But in my observation, without a strategy and a new approach, it seems a fool’s errand. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

Is Success a Formula?

The trend of the day in the music industry might be trap beats and simplistic basslines with lazy, rhythmic, autotuned vocals.

If you don’t know what I mean, check out YouTube guitarist Stevie T parodying popular artist Drake:

And it would be easy to assume that today’s answer would be to follow this formula, maybe put a bit of your own spin on it and get your new release out into the world as quickly as possible.

But this isn’t today’s answer. It’s yesterday’s. It’s been in the zeitgeist for quite a while. And even if it does have some staying power, if you started an album project today with the assumption that this type of music would be just as popular a year from now, you might be well behind the eight ball, and your release could even flop (to say nothing of the need to build an engaged fan base and market your music to a wider audience).

The music you hear today wasn’t created today. It was created yesterday. You can build on yesterday’s formula, but there’s no guarantee that it will work.

Beliefs vs. Faith

If knowledge is past based, is anything present or future based?

Or, said another way, if yesterday’s answers don’t always ring true today, is there a way of tapping into today’s answers?

The answer is… it’s complicated.

See, there is a way to live your life from a space of future-based, limitless possibilities rather than past-based constrictions. It doesn’t necessarily give you access to all of today’s answers, but it does make new things possible in your life, in a world where we often end up repeating circumstances and situations because of our natural tendencies.

Just as knowledge is past based, so are beliefs. Beliefs are based on your experience and are built on what is familiar and predictable. Which is problematic when you’re trying to create new experiences in your life.

Faith, on the other hand, is all about the future. Faith says, “I don’t know what’s going to happen but I’m going to follow it anyway. Let’s see what happens.”

Here’s mindset and business coach Quazi Johir to explain how this works:

The Power of Intuition

In discussing beliefs and faith, one thing we can’t overlook is the power of intuition – the part of ourselves we often deny because we think our ideas might be too simplistic or too ridiculous to even work. In some cases, we even bottle ideas because of the fear of appearing foolish to others.

Intuition happens in the moment, and it doesn’t appear like a thought as much as it does a sudden flash of inspiration. That’s how you know it’s intuition and not a constipated brainstorm or a forced conclusion.

Whether it’s the divine calling your number, or the coalescence of thoughts and ideas is anybody’s guess. The point is it seemingly comes out of nowhere. Which also suggests that it’s a “now answer” rather than a “then answer.”

As Ward Andrews explains on Design.org:

The power of intuition lies in its ability to empower you. When you listen to your intuition, you are guiding yourself. You are building trust in the one person you’ll always have with you. You are learning to give yourself what you need, instead of what you or other people want.

Intuition is all about trusting yourself, and it’s a powerful tool for uncovering today’s answers. It’s not easy to control (you can’t put a timeline on it), but it can be harnessed. Don’t miss the opportunity to follow your intuition as it points you in new directions.

Final Thoughts

So, does all this mean you should never lean on yesterday’s answers?

No, it doesn’t. Yesterday’s answers might still hold true today, or at the very least, form the foundation for today’s answers.

If I were building a house today, I wouldn’t reinvent the wheel. I would rely on time tested principles. A house serves a practical function, and there is practical, cost- and time-efficient solutions already.

When it comes to something as nuanced as creativity, music, digital marketing, or building a fan base, though, yesterday’s answers might not be today’s, and today’s answers might not be yesterday’s.

There’s always an element of trailblazing to anyone’s success, as no two success stories are exactly alike. Which is why your individuality and intuition matter so much.

But when you try something and it doesn’t work, don’t be discouraged. Rather, be vigilant about taking inventory of the lessons you learned along the way – not just what didn’t work, but also what did work.

As Brenda R. Smyth at SkillPath says:

The human brain has a natural tendency to give weight to (and remember) negative experiences or interactions more than positive ones – they stand out more. Psychologists refer to this as negativity bias.

Which means this – if you’re only focused on the negative, you’re only learning half the lessons you’re capable of learning. You’ve got to dig for the positive lessons too. Otherwise, by default, you’re surrendering 50% of your potential learning.

In closing, here are some questions you can ask to deepen your relationship to today’s answers:

  • What familiar and comfortable answers do you rely on?
  • Have these answers given you desired results, or have they led you off course?
  • Have you been vigilant in applying every aspect of these answers, following through on the courses as designed, or have you cherrypicked just the parts that appeal to you and tried to reinvent the wheel?
  • Examining the answers, you’ve held near and dear, have you identified any faulty assumptions you need to change?
  • Do you see any practical ways of tapping into today’s answers and not just yesterday’s? What are they?
  • If you were to follow today’s answers rather than yesterday’s, what would that look like?
  • Remember – the present contains all that is – the past and the future. What could you do to be more present in daily life?

Thanks for reading, champ.

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070 – Peeling Back the Layers

What does it mean to grow? Is growth a process of addition or subtraction? How do we uncover our true identities as individuals?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share something important I learned while I was on vacation in Japan.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – One layer peeled away
  • 00:34 – The realization I had about a Japanese expression
  • 01:01 – Different ways of viewing growth
  • 01:19 – The process of growth often involves letting go of the past
  • 01:37 – Growth is moving closer to your identity
  • 01:53 – Questions about identity
  • 02:23 – We add layers to protect ourselves
  • 03:06 – Getting to where you want to go may require removing layers
  • 03:20 – Fear of identity
  • 03:33 – You can’t peel back the layers unless you reflect
  • 03:51 – Do you dare to peel back your layers?

Transcription:

“Hito kawa muketa” is a phrase that means “one layer peeled away” in Japanese. This is often said in reference to someone who’s changed and grown over time. So, if you saw that someone you knew went through a transformational process and you could see that they had grown through the experience, you would say to them that they had hito kawa muketa.

This phrase came up in a conversation on Facebook with a friend of mine while I was in Japan earlier in November. I mentioned to her that I was enjoying my experience in Japan more so than I did in 2003 because I had grown as a person.

But in that moment, it occurred to me that hito kawa muketa is such an interesting expression because it’s not necessarily the way we think about growth in North America. And that’s what inspired this podcast episode.

I think we see growth as addition and expansion most of the time. We see ourselves doing more, being more, and getting more through the process of growth. But the Japanese phrase suggests that growth is in fact subtraction. We peel away a layer as we develop into the individuals we’re becoming.

It’s not that either perspective is right or wrong, but when you think about it, the process of growth often involves letting go of past failures, past fears, baggage, and hang ups. As we let go of those things, we’re better able to focus on the present, and by extension, our future. We can set goals and move towards them.

The process of growth often involves letting go of past failures, fears, baggage, and hang ups. Share on X

I have a friend who I think would readily agree with this notion of peeling back the layers. He believes that growth is moving closer to your identity, who you truly are. You were born with your identity and yet somehow, you’ve gotten away from it.

This begs a few important questions, such as: “Why do we move so far away from our identity to begin with?”, “What causes us to add layers that later need to be peeled back?”, “Why are we afraid to be ourselves?”, and “Why can’t we always be the purest version of ourselves out in the world?

I don’t necessarily have the answers to these questions, but I do believe they are worth asking. As you examine yourself, you may come to some important realizations about the things that are holding you back as an individual right this moment.

What I believe is that we add layers to protect ourselves. Painful life experiences cause us to make changes. Sometimes these changes are beneficial, but sometimes they are detrimental to us as well. The layers that we add aren’t our identity. They are merely coping mechanisms to help us not make the same mistakes again.

Certainly, I believe we should learn from our mistakes. There’s tremendous value in that. But if someone you love hurts you, and because of that experience you mistrusted everyone on the planet, you would be hurting yourself. But these are the types of sweeping conclusions that we often come to because of things that have failed in the past, so the added layer wouldn’t be a reflection of your identity – just a tool for coping with life.

To get to where you want to go in your career or business, you will likely need to examine and peel away the layers between you and who you truly are. As you do, you move closer to your identity, which is more beautiful than you know. I believe we’re often scared of our identity because to us it looks like a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Few people like to reveal their weaker side. Yet, if those qualities aren’t all taken together, you wouldn’t be fully you, and I wouldn’t be fully me.

I believe peeling back the layer is difficult if not impossible unless you take time to reflect. Just as I took some time away for myself and went to Japan, stopping and taking a break from your life is a good way to gain clarity on the situation and discover the steps you need to take to move forward.

Stopping and taking a break from your life is a good way to gain clarity on the situation and uncover your next steps. Share on X

Even though it’s been painful at times, I believe I’ve been rewarded for peeling back the layers and have been finding my path forward in my ventures. I have more clarity than I’ve ever had before. So, will you dare to peel back the layers?

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038 – Making Your Own Rules

If you don’t feel like you’re making progress in your career, you have no one to blame but yourself. Perhaps you haven’t even thought about what you’re trying to accomplish, or what steps you need to take to get there. The best way to make steady progress? Make your own rules.

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I explain how you can set your own rules, and the benefits of doing so.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Making your own rules and taking charge
  • 01:05 – You are your harshest critic
  • 02:27 – When you make your own rules, it’s easy to make the game winnable
  • 03:59 – Control
  • 04:52 – Achieving builds your confidence
  • 05:04 – Have you made your own rules?

Transcription:

Playing your own gameThanks for joining me. Today I wanted to talk about making your own rules, because I think some people out there are discouraged by the progress they’re making or not making in their music careers.

And I think you would do well to remember that you’re in charge of that. Nobody else can tell you what you’re supposed to achieve or what your goals are supposed to be, or what you’re aiming for. Only you decide that.

For example, if you want to be signed to a record label, obviously, a win for you would mean getting a contract offer. But you could set your sights a lot lower if you wanted to. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s up to you.

You can have small goals, and you can have big goals if that’s what you choose to do. And you must be the one measuring against your own rules that you’ve made to play the game.

My first point is that you are your harshest critic. When you put out a new product into the world, whether it’s an eBook, or a new single, EP, or album, you know everything that’s wrong with it because you were involved in the production process.

As a musician, you are your own harshest critic. Share on X

Whether it was your guitar playing being a little bit out of time, your vocals being pitchy, or the drums not totally in sync with the rest of the band. But when your fans go and listen to it, they might not even notice some of those things.

So, there’s no reason to point out to say, “Hey, on this track my guitar playing’s off.” You don’t need to tell them that. If they enjoyed the song, they enjoyed the song.

More often than not, if you go back and listen to some of the recordings that came from the 60s and 70s, there was a lot of live recording off the floor. And there are some amazing recordings from back then, but there are also many flaws. Some of them were even covered up by instruments. Even The Beatles had songs like that, sections where they played the wrong chord and they covered it up with a bunch of horns and things like that.

So, it’s just good to be aware that no one will be as harsh as you are. You are your worst critic.

Second, setting your own rules makes it easier for you to win, and success breeds success. So, when you begin working on something, and you complete it. That’s your first win. And then you put it out into the world, and that’s another win. And, as you achieve more, your confidence will increase, and you’ll get more done.

Setting your own rules makes it easier for you to win. Share on X

I think setting your own rules enables you to increase your confidence continually over time, bit by bit, after every achievement and every win. That leads to momentum. Momentum leads to being more prolific and producing more, and creating more, and putting more out into the world. We want to encourage that success cycle to happen in our lives.

But if you set your goals too high and measure yourself against some of the most amazing people in the world, and you’re just getting started in your music career, or if you’re in year two or three right now, you can’t do what they did. It’s near impossible.

So, measuring yourself against some of the most accomplished musicians or music business people in the world is unfair to yourself. What we want to do is to get into that success cycle. Setting your own rules, making your own goals, and measuring yourself against those goals boosts your confidence and helps you achieve more.

Making your own rules also puts you in control. I’ve talked before about ownership. You should be in control of what you accomplish, especially as a musician or business owner. You should put those parameters in place as to what it means to be successful in what you do. No one else should be telling you what that is, should they? So, take some time to think about what success would mean to you.

And if you have huge goals, then put small goals in place that allow you to reach that next level. Put those stepping stones in place. And every time you hit one of those mile markers, you’ll realize you’ve progress in your career, and that will increase your confidence.

So, making your own rules, taking ownership of it, taking responsibility of your career, increases your confidence.

So, what are your thoughts on making your own rules? Have you already made your own rules for your music career or business? Let me know. Leave a comment below, and I’ll see you next time.

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TQP 018: Are There More Important Questions? II

The Question Podcast

The following 12 questions come from an article titled 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind:

  • What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
  • Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you’re doing?
  • If the average human lifespan was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
  • What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
  • What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?
  • Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
  • What are you most grateful for?
  • Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
  • At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
  • When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea that you strongly believed in?
  • If you knew that everyone you knew was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
  • What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

In this episode of The Question podcast, you will hear highlights from Frederick Tamagi’s presentation on asking more important questions, as well as the poetry of Miles Patterson.

Thank you for listening!

What questions will you be taking with you after listening to this episode?

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The Difference between Fixed Beliefs & Flexible Beliefs

What you believe affects what you do. This is not a terribly profound thought, but I’m sure you would agree that it’s an important one.

As I continue down this path of music industry consultant/advisor/helper, I’ve come to recognize an even deeper truth – that there’s a significant difference between fixed beliefs and flexible beliefs.

Both types of beliefs are valuable, but when applied incorrectly, they can hinder your growth and limit your progress and potential.

Let me share with you what I’ve been learning about belief systems and how this concept can change your reality.

What is a Fixed Belief?

A fixed belief is whatever you consider to be absolute truth.

This does not need to be an objective truth, because many of us believe things that can’t be quantified or verified. It’s whatever you believe to be true.

Here’s an example of a fixed belief that would serve you well:

I believe in the Law of Gravity.

Since walking off of a tall building or a cliff would send you plummeting to injury or death, this is a good belief to have. Violate the law at your own peril.

Here’s an example of a fixed belief that could cause you to miss out on opportunities:

I believe in prioritizing music conferences over anything else in my music career.

On the surface, it seems like a good belief. In my book, The New Music Industry, I even talk about the importance of going to conferences and events and what they can do for your career.

But if you believe that there’s nothing more important than music conferences, you will prioritize them over everything else, including: career-building gigs, the signing of a major label contract, licensing or placement opportunities, and so on.

A belief like that could end up negatively impacting your career. Because it’s a fixed belief, it’s much harder for you and others to challenge and debunk.

Now you know both the pros and cons of fixed beliefs.

What is a Flexible Belief?

A flexible belief is something you regard as being true, but not absolute truth. You’re open to new stimuli and feedback that could add a new layer to the belief.

Here’s an example of a flexible belief that would serve you well:

I believe in the importance of networking and meeting new people.

Meeting new people can open doors to fresh opportunities. People work with those they know, like and trust, so as you build more relationships, you may see your career prosper like never before.

One of the reasons this belief works is because there are no priority statements attached to it. You’re not saying it’s more important than anything else (but you might want to – for example, it’s probably more important than talking to your friends on Facebook).

Admittedly, this belief can also be a dangerous one, because if you have a good experience, the belief will become stronger. If you have a negative experienc, it could weaken. You must be careful with where new information takes you.

Here’s an example of a flexible belief that’s more likely to have negative consequences attached to it:

I don’t believe seatbelts are all that important.

Since it’s a flexible belief, you’re at least open to new information that might tell you otherwise. The problem is that, by the time the feedback has shown up, it might be too late – it could be after you’ve flown through a windshield.

Now you know the pros and cons of flexible beliefs.

Why is This Difference Important?

We are all living out our beliefs. And as I said at the outset, what you believe influences your actions.

Both fixed beliefs and flexible beliefs have the potential to bring about a great deal of joy or pain. As such, they need to be applied carefully.

I’ve experienced a great deal of pain because of fixed beliefs that did not serve me. When it became apparent that I could no longer hold onto these lies, I was forced to reexamine my convictions, and had to come to new conclusions about what was true.

Many of these assumptions come from our upbringing: parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, the media and so on.

It’s not that your parent, teacher and mentor figures were ill-meaning. Quite simply, they may not have been aware of how their philosophies were flawed. They may not have been willing to accept evidence to the contrary either.

That’s the main danger of fixed beliefs – you keep holding onto philosophy that doesn’t serve you, even though it’s long past the point of hurting you and eroding your confidence.

Meanwhile, flexible beliefs have allowed me to adapt as necessary. They have allowed me to stay open to new information and stimuli that might reinforce and validate the belief, weaken it, or destroy it completely.

It might still hurt when you’re wrong, but not as much. You stay open to new feedback, because that feedback allows you to learn and grow.

So while there are some dangers to be avoided with flexible beliefs, it usually comes from being too casual or unintentional about it.

Why You Shouldn’t Settle

Fixed beliefs are often comfortable. It’s comfortable to believe that your religion is right because your family always believed in it. It’s comfortable to believe that life is the way it is, and you have no control over it (i.e. victim mentality).

Flexible beliefs allow for continual growth. It’s not about replacing an old belief with a new one at every turn, but rather about having the willingness to challenge assumptions. And, as you begin that process, you start to see that there are a lot of things from your past that aren’t adding any value.

When and where possible, fixed beliefs should be applied to things that are outside of your control and flexible beliefs should be applied to things that are within your control. But even that isn’t a perfect system.

Final Thoughts

Too many fixed beliefs do not serve you as an artist. Now, it might sound tiring to continually ask questions and challenge yourself, but it will help you remain open to new possibilities. It can also work as a feedback mechanism for when an alternate course of action (one that’s different from the one you would normally choose) could be a better one for your life or career.

I can’t tell you what’s right for you without knowing the specifics of the situation, and even then, it’s based strictly on what I know about you. But understanding the difference between these two belief systems could help you eliminate obstacles from your path and cause you to have breakthroughs never before imagined.