Living a Happy, Fulfilled Life Full of Inspiration

Living a Happy, Fulfilled Life Full of Inspiration

There’s something inside of you waiting to come out:

A personal expression of your creativity.

It might sound cheesy. It might sound mercurial.

But whether you fulfill on your soul’s inscription is not a matter of chance. It’s a matter of intention.

The only way to live a creatively fulfilled life is to get into motion now.

Tomorrow is an arbitrary concept. This moment is all there is.

Simultaneously, your actions today shape your future. That’s the paradox.

When you envision your future, what do you see? Do you see yourself creatively fulfilled?

There’s only one way to get there, to begin with the end in mind, and to take steps towards that end daily.

Get Their Attention First & Then Share Your Music

Get Their Attention First & Then Share Your Music

I recently got to interview The Police’s former manager, Miles Copeland, and that conversation is going to stick with me for a long time to come.

One of my biggest takeaways from that interview is simply this:

Trying to get people to listen to your music is an uphill battle. First, you’ve got to grab their attention!

Trying to get people to listen to your music is an uphill battle. First, you’ve got to grab their attention! Click To Tweet

Think of Lady Gaga and all her early day antics.

Her talent isn’t in question. Lady Gaga is classically trained. She’s a great pianist and singer. She probably has other talents I don’t even know about.

The point is that by treating every occasion like Halloween, she got our attention. We’re all drawn to the bizarre, even if some of us don’t stick around to watch the whole train wreck.

And I’m not saying Gaga is a train wreck. I’m saying that only a portion of the people who come to check out the freakshow are going to stick around. Not everyone will be your fan. But some will, and those people will become your advocates long-term.

So, we need to be thinking about what we can do to grab people’s attention.

Slipknot has the masks, Marilyn Manson has a knack for the grotesque, KISS has the makeup…

And while these are more extreme examples than anything, what they have in common is that they’re successful by practically anyone’s standards. They got our attention, then delivered music that matched their esthetic.

You don’t necessarily need to go to the same lengths to get noticed. But chances are you will need to do something. Because you need to get feet in the door. Once you’ve gotten people to listen to your music, the battle is as good as won. Getting to that point is the hard part.

So, go back to your identity. Your brand. What are you about? Why do you do what you do? And within that context, how can you grab people’s attention? What would it look like to be the extreme version of yourself?

Finding Inspiration in Unrelated Niches

Finding Inspiration in Unrelated Niches

Most of us begin by imitating our heroes.

Some of my early heroes as a guitarist were Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, and Nuno Bettencourt, and I learned a great deal from each.

But there always seems to come a point when drawing from the same wells of inspiration doesn’t yield new results anymore.

You can go and find new heroes, of course, which is what most us do. But these new heroes often end up being extensions of well-traveled paths. So, there’s a limit to how much more we can learn from them.

Legendary British jazz fusion and progressive rock guitarist Allan Holdsworth was known as the most technically adept guitarist to ever live (he passed just four years ago in 2017).

The irony? He hated guitar. He always sought to imitate the saxophone.

I’m not sure whether his secret was that he took inspiration from an unusual source, that he worked hard at is craft, or ultimately, both. I think we can agree, though, that all these factors were important.

Here’s another example that makes the point:

You can hear bits of Chet Atkins, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, West Montgomery, and others in virtuoso guitarist Eric Johnson’s playing.

What is fascinating about his playing, though, is that his style was also influenced by the piano. Which is why you rarely see him just strumming chords, as many rhythm guitarists are known to do.

This might seem restrictive to some, but it’s clear to see how it would fundamentally shift how you think about your instrument.

These are key lessons as applied to developing your creative projects and businesses too.

It’s fine to take inspiration from your peers and competitors. It might even be prudent, given that imitating another’s brand can sometimes give you instant trust and recognition.

But let’s be real here. As author Todd Henry often says, “cover bands don’t change the world – you’ve got to find your unique voice.”

There’s a great deal of inspiration that can be found in completely unrelated industries, niches, practices, and disciplines too.

My main niche is music, but I’ve started taking inspiration from:

  • Japanese variety shows
  • Political and geopolitical podcasts
  • Online drum lesson memberships (this one obviously has a closer connection)
  • Internet marketing and online business sites
  • Conspiracy theorists

Now, if we want our projects and businesses to be successful, we can never ignore who we’re talking to or the language they’re using to describe their problems. That’s the main way we’re going to ensure our mission is sustainable.

But there may be opportunities to create better products and services by taking inspiration from unrelated niches.

The key is to approach all that you consume with open loops. When you do, you’ll find answers to questions in unexpected places.

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Branding Your Music

Branding Your Music

I’ve been feeling kind of exhausted today, so publishing hasn’t been high on my list of priorities (I’ve mostly been laying in bed, watching Netflix, and eating).

Still, I’ve committed myself to publishing every day for a year, so it’s time to get something up here.

So, today, I want to share an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Music Entrepreneur Identity.

This is turning out to be an exceptionally fun book for me to write,  and while I’ve got pages and pages to go, I don’t expect it to take that long because I’ve got a thorough outline and extensive notes on each section.

For this post, I’ll be sharing part of the introduction (but only part of it).

Unlike most books I’ve written to this point, this book features a longer introduction containing the most critical lesson of all.

The book opens with a personal story, detailing my struggle with finding a brand for my music. I did not understand the critical importance of defining a brand, which led to years of struggle that could have been bypassed.

But that’s the story of life. We don’t know what we don’t know, and until the solutions present themselves, we can remain in the dark for a long time (sometimes forever!).

Enjoy what follows and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

The Music Entrepreneur Identity Introduction

If I had understood the value of defining my musical identity early on, I’m sure I wouldn’t have struggled the way I did, especially in the first decade or so of being a musician.

The people closest to me knew my work ethic. They knew I was serious about making a go of this music thing. They knew I was talented and had the chops to back my passion.

But like most artists, I ended up struggling in obscurity. I couldn’t sell enough music or book enough decent paying gigs to make a living.

Merch? Forget it! I didn’t have the financial outlay to make good on that investment.

I figured there would always be more time to figure it all out. I believed one day I would grow into the Rock Stars I loved and admired.

It would be many years later until I figured out that I would only ever grow into myself…

Turns out we’re all just human beings and comparison is unhelpful.

And unfortunately, things kept turning from bad to worse for me.

Long story long, it all culminated in a hellish six months in 2011.

Because my former roommates, who were also my best friends, had all moved out of my house, I ended up having to bring new tenants in. And the one I ended up with was one of the messiest, loudest, and most messed up guys I’d ever met.

He was convinced that his only two options in life were to get a job as an engineer or become a stripper. He complained that he didn’t want to be an engineer, so you can see where things went from there.

Years later, I found out he chased a girl down to L.A., ended up living on the streets, and was arrested and jailed. For what, I don’t know. But if I had to guess, it was probably for assault.

But getting back to the story…

This was after the global economic meltdown, and my investments had mostly tanked. I was starting to feel the crunch financially and was running out of options.

All I could do was sell my soul to five poorly paying jobs. I had to work mornings, evenings, weekends, and endure long commutes. Sometimes I had to fight for healthy working conditions and the money I was owed. No one cared that I was going through hell. Not their problem. If they could exploit me and drive me like a slave for less than minimum wage, it was a win for them.

All the while, I hoped and prayed these jobs would lead somewhere…

At the time, the only music in my life was the local singer-songwriter open mic night on Tuesdays and the occasional rehearsal or gig. And I would happily go just to get away from my roommate and the mess he was making at my once beautiful home.

For a while, I was undeterred. I just kept going. I believed if I persevered, I’d find a way.

Instead, I broke down. I was carrying a bag full of bricks, and the unbreakable back of Atlas finally snapped with the addition of a single straw.

One Sunday, after church, I ended up sobbing in my blue Toyota RAV4 with two flat tires in front of an Italian restaurant. I was exhausted, defeated, humiliated. My spirit was crushed. In that moment, you could not have convinced me there was anything left worth living for.

I managed to refinance my home and stay afloat for a while…

But I kept getting myself into financial trouble, to where I ended up having to sell my home, my office, my studio – my everything – in 2012.

None of that had to happen.

But you don’t know what you don’t know.

And I didn’t have a clue what had gone wrong.

That’s it for Now…

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This is My Brand

This is My Brand

Yesterday, I asked my Facebook friends what words came to mind when they thought of me, my music, or anything else I do.

Apparently, some were more fascinated by the picture I had posted and forgot to follow instructions.

But I loaded the words into a word cloud generator, and this is what I ended up with:

David Andrew Wiebe word cloud

I threw a few band or artist names in there (those people have told me I sound like) to keep things interesting.

So, what is my brand?

I think if I were to pull out a few words myself, they would be:

  • Steady
  • Groovy
  • Catchy
  • Genuine

It still leaves a lot of room for specificity, but then again, I’ve always been a little “all over the map” with my creativity.

Want to weigh in with your own thoughts or add few words to the list to make things more exciting? Want to help me define my brand more narrowly?

I’ve embedded the Facebook post for you here:

Update:

I put together a new word cloud after a few more comments came in.

I feel this is a closer representation of my brand:

David Andrew Wiebe brand word cloud