Taking Full Responsibility of Your Music Career

Taking Full Responsibility of Your Music Career

Abstractions and emotions rule most music careers. Because career activity is driven by abstractions and emotions.

Think about songwriting. What is a song, really? It’s a personal expression, right? Even when you aren’t talking about yourself, technically you are, because you’re expressing an idea, thought, or opinion. So, abstraction and emotions can help the songwriting process. Especially since listeners relate to human emotions.

But when it comes to something more exact like business or marketing, you can’t just rely on gut feelings or fly by the seat of your pants. You’ve got to be able to track your activity, look at the facts, and make hard decisions to pursue that which works and makes sense to do.

That’s the responsibility that some artists have a hard time accepting. They either don’t want to do it, or they just want someone else to do it.

And I’m not going to say that getting someone else to do it isn’t an option. But you’ve still got to act on the data, right? Or else it makes no sense to collect. We can stubbornly insist on things we think we should be doing, or we can use cold, hard facts to make better decisions on the activity we should be engaged in.

If you want to create something because you want it to exist, that’s fine, but recognize it might not be the fast track to getting what you want in your music career.

And I get that this is a scary thing. You’re trying to blaze a trail and make your way all on your own. You’re trying to make things work in your music career.

But turning a blind eye and following emotion or opinion is the least attractive option.

You’ve either got to start tracking relevant data yourself, get someone to track for you, or some combination thereof. Otherwise, you’re unlikely to grow your music career into a sustainable, profitable one. You’re just going to be ruled by your opinions and emotions, as most artists are, and end up in the same desperate bucket they are.

The most successful artists do things differently. That’s why they’re successful.

The most successful artists do things differently. That’s why they’re successful. Click To Tweet

For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.

How to Handle Addiction

How to Handle Addiction

Addiction is something all creatives and creators can relate to, to lesser or greater degrees.

I have recently had some questions regarding addiction and felt it an important topic to address.

I have not mastered my addictions, and perhaps I never will. But I have learned some valuable things about what it means to be human and that has helped me greatly on this journey. That’s what I’d like to share with you here.

Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, and what follows should not be taken as advice. Seek professional help if you are struggling with severe addiction.

What is Addiction?

Some of the most prevalent forms of addictions are smartphones, social media, shopping, video games, alcohol, drugs, porn, relationships, co-dependency, and so on.

Most people will try to put these on a sliding scale from bad to terrible, but the reality is most things are not inherently evil, and even have their place. It is human, however, to try to categorize and rank everything.

“I feel worse when I do abc versus xyz” is a subjective, emotional statement, not a universal sentiment, let alone fact.

Shopping is not an addiction until it becomes an uncontrollable, compulsive behavior that leads to your financial ruin. In like manner, most addictions are just temporary escapes until they begin ruining different aspects of your life – relational, physical, financial, or otherwise.

Most addictions are just temporary escapes until they begin ruining different aspects of your life. Click To Tweet

Note: Anything outside of what is morally and culturally accepted is in a category all its own, and not something I will specifically address here. That said, the mental models I share may still be of some value.

1. Reduce Importance

I believe the first and most important step to handling addiction is to reduce its importance.

There is some part of us that wants to believe that if we just do a better job of beating ourselves up, that next time, we won’t make the same mistake. So, we become professional bullies.

I know of a man who was caught watching porn by his wife, and he snapped his laptop in half out of anger.

However symbolic the action, however sincere the sentiment, in that moment, the importance of addiction increased in his life. I don’t know what happened next, but I would venture to guess that was not the last time he watched porn, because snapping his laptop did nothing to reduce its importance.

You cannot reduce the importance of addiction by giving it more emotionally-charged attention, becoming a professional bully, making yourself wrong, hurting yourself, hating yourself, or any of the “normal” behavior that seems to accompany self-loathing addicts.

You come to hate yourself because you hate bullies, plain and simple.

God or the universe does not seem to treat addiction with the level of urgency that we do. So, why do we?

I am not saying there is no consequence for addiction. There always is. But I do not know of anyone who went on a social media binge that instantly got struck down by lightning.

Beating up on yourself is what does the greatest psychological harm. It does more harm than the action or behavior you’re trying to stop in the first place. You beat yourself up and then try to convince yourself that it is God’s wrath raining down on you.

People try to shed their addictions by giving it more attention, and it ends up doing the complete opposite.

People try to shed their addictions by giving it more attention, and it ends up doing the complete opposite. Click To Tweet

It has often been said that the best way to manage anxiety is to let go. Addiction is much the same. You can reduce its importance by letting go instead of trying to control and micromanage it.

2. Change Context

We all go through a traumatic moment in early childhood. Even if we don’t remember, even if we say it’s not a big deal, it has shaped us for the rest of our lives. And we have trouble accepting that.

The context we got in that moment was “something’s wrong here.”

Up until that moment in life, everything was fine. It wasn’t paradise, but there also wasn’t anything notably wrong.

Everything changed in that moment of trauma. And for the first time in our lives, we got that “something’s wrong here.”

Why is this important? Because you’ve been carrying that context with you from that day on. And if you haven’t been present to this, it’s also been running your life!

When you succumb to addiction, instead of simply acknowledging the action or behavior, you immediately turn to “there’s something wrong here.”

And that perpetuates a guilty conscience. Then we are back to the same cycle of doing things we don’t want to do, beating ourselves up for it, giving more attention to our addictions, rinse, repeat.

What if there was nothing wrong?

See, I can feel you protesting already. Because you won’t even allow yourself to go there. You must keep beating yourself up or you’re a bad person. Otherwise, God himself will deal with you. Am I right?

But in the generous present moment, there is nothing wrong. I doubt that you are getting chased by a dinosaur as you’re reading this. And you are missing that generous present moment by focusing on what’s wrong. You’re not cherishing the present you were given.

You’re too busy projecting into the future, thinking about the consequences of that debt, or that conversation you’re loathing to have, or the project you dropped the ball on.

The future hasn’t happened yet. Can you be present?

What if good and bad was just a meaning we assigned to everything? What if the universe itself doesn’t discriminate between events? What if, to the universe, all events were just events?

“Something’s wrong here” is a meaning we assign to everything if we are not present to it. But now that you are present, you can change the context.

3. Be with Your Emotions

Addiction can often manifest as an escape from some emotion we once did not feel able to deal with. So, it got bottled up.

As you can imagine, there can be a lot of internal buildup if you repeat the same patterns. The moment an intense emotional moment arises, you seek escape, so you turn to addictive behavior. Over time, a molehill can turn into a mountain.

Those with lingering addictions, often, are sensitive and empathetic. They feel deeply and are saddled with emotions whose origins are a little iffy, and can feel overwhelming.

Just for a moment, imagine that there are two of you – your adult self and your child self.

Consider that the emotions screaming out at you are coming from your child self and not your adult self.

And when you see it that way, it’s easy to let go of judgment. If your child were in pain, you would help them. It’s instinct.

What else would you do? Would you try to solve the problem? Perhaps.

But solving may not lead to the results you’re looking for. We spend most of our lives trying to survive and fix situations, and it’s apparent in our communication and how we live our lives.

What a loving parent would do is listen to their child. Acknowledge their pain. Let them know that they love them no matter what.

Is that the way you deal with yourself? If you’ve been beating yourself up for your addictions, then the answer is certainly “no.”

Simply sitting with your emotions and not trying to survive or fix them, not trying to do anything with them except love them, often leads to their dissolving.

It sounds like magic, but it isn’t. It’s just that you have never sat with those emotions long enough or given them the space they needed to find expression.

Next time you feel an intense emotion, close your eyes, and just sit with yourself. Meditate if you like. Listen to the frightened child screaming out, calling for your attention. Listen. Acknowledge the pain. Let it know that you love it no matter what.

Final Thoughts

The better you understand what it means to be human, the less power addiction holds over you.

Maybe your actions and behaviors don’t change overnight. But because you give addictions less attention, their significance diminishes in your life. And that has a way of shifting your actions and behaviors too.

Behavioral modification is treating the symptoms at best, and never gets to the root cause. Beating yourself up will only aggravate your conditions.

You need to listen, acknowledge, forgive, and love as you would a helpless child. That’s all you were ever tasked to do. Leave the rest in the capable hands of God or the universe.

Pay what you want for the first issue of my digital magazine, The Renegade Musician.

The Renegade Musician

Addicted to Drama

Addicted to Drama

Some never graduate from high school.

They will constantly cry over spilled milk and draw as many of their friends as they possibly can into their drama-fueled vortex.

So often, we are blind to the challenges that others face. Comparison is unhelpful, but while you’re crying about a scratch on your Beemer, someone else is getting the news from their doctor that they have cancer.

The question is whether to remain in the drama. And the answer may not be forthcoming until we understand the consequences of a life consumed by “who said what” and “who did that.”

Drama is largely self-inflicted. We all feel emotions, but we also have the choice of what to do with those emotions.

Drama is largely self-inflicted. We all feel emotions, but we also have the choice of what to do with those emotions. Click To Tweet

In this video, I share about the dangers of being addicted to drama.

Transcription:

Drama is one of those addictions that holds you back.

You are free to go and enjoy drama if that’s what you want to do. It’s just not going to lead to a stable life, conducive to lasting relationships and personal achievement.

People so often say:

  • I want to write a book, or
  • I want to start a business, or
  • I want to become an athlete, or
  • I want to become a model

But because they focus so much on the drama, and because they’re so addicted to it, they get into horrible relationships, and then they have friends who also like drama, and before long, they form a drama addicts anonymous group that ends up feeding the monster…

So, you end up in a constant roller-coaster ride that doesn’t support you achieving any of your ambitions.

The test of stability is not whether your life is stable. There will always be things you can’t control.

The test of stability is whether you can maintain emotional evenness even as the world is storming around you.

The test of stability is whether you can maintain emotional evenness even as the world is storming around you. Click To Tweet

Subscribe to my Telegram channel for more inspiration.

P.S. My new course, the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass is available.

This course equips you with practical and timeless mindset advice, along with the skills necessary to make your own way in the music business.

Click on the banner below to learn more NOW.

Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass

Take Responsibility for Your Accountability

Take Responsibility for Your Accountability

When making a big commitment to ourselves, we often end up delegating accountability.

“If you see me with a cigarette, wipe it out of my mouth,” we say, knowing our friends are just as tempted by our addictions as we are.

Accountability certainly doesn’t work when our friends struggle with the same things we do. It doesn’t work when our friends don’t have the capacity for tough love, either.

More importantly, accountability doesn’t work unless you are first accountable to yourself. It should not be delegated.

Accountability doesn’t work unless you are first accountable to yourself. Click To Tweet

Think of it this way – if you can’t be accountable to yourself, you’re not going to be good at holding others accountable either. Others can’t trust you to keep them in check.

Further, if you don’t follow through on the things you’ve committed yourself to, it ends up eroding your self-confidence.

And thus, a negative cycle is created. What I’ve just described is a formula for losing.

We need to examine this more closely…

If you’re asking someone to hold you accountable to something, it’s because you find yourself having a hard time living without that addiction. You’re confronting a part of yourself that either wants to or doesn’t want to do something very badly.

Asking a friend to wipe a cigarette out of your mouth is like treating the symptom without addressing the cause. Even with their help, you’re bound to repeat old patterns.

The first thing you need to do is sit with yourself. And don’t make yourself or your emotions wrong. Oftentimes, our emotions are simply demanding a little bit of attention. And there is nothing wrong with the emotions that come up. It’s possible they’ve been trapped in there for a while.

Acknowledge your emotions. Sit with them. Love them. You will find that they begin to dissolve relatively quickly when we give them the space and attention they require, like a parent consoling their weeping child.

Once you’ve confronted the emotions that have been controlling you, the only thing left to do is create a schedule and live by it. If your schedule says work out, work out. If your schedule says work, work. And if anything doesn’t work, change the schedule. Keep iterating until it’s workable.

Sooner or later, you will begin to see that it becomes much easier to keep your commitments, especially when you internalize the consequences of not holding yourself accountable.

If you are the kind of person that can keep themselves accountable, then and only then are you qualified to keep others accountable.

Subscribe to my Telegram channel for more inspiration.

P.S. My new course, the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass is available.

This course equips you with practical and timeless mindset advice, along with the skills necessary to make your own way in the music business.

Click on the banner below to learn more NOW.

Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass