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What Doesn't Kill You, Makes You More Skilled...

When I first dreamed of being a singer performing to stadium filled crowds, I was about 3 years old. I didn't care what song I was actually singing, or which label got me there, I didn't even care what I was wearing. I just wanted to sing to nations. As I grew up, I shared that dream with more people and, naturally, became more exposed to opinions, standards, and rules.

That was the part I wish I would have prepared for: the thousands of people who insist they know how it's "supposed to be" done. Some advice was very helpful and some advice I'm still trying to forget. Overall, the advice shaped me and attempted to limit me in many ways as well. The limits that were imposed on me are among the reasons why I'm even writing this article. Consumers often have to have a frame of reference in order to absorb something new and I get it. But that frame can either limit an artist or encourage them to shatter the mold.

Most artists that I know personally just want to be heard and not in a "hey, hey, look at me kind of way" but in a "you don't have to like it, just listen" way. If that want turns into a need, that means there's a problem to be solved. A problem that needs to be solved creates a market and a market means there will be marketing. Enter: the music business and the "starving artist". I've never been too comfortable with the term "starving artist". Many industries profit off of desperation. The deep need to be seen and heard, drives sales. There's nothing wrong with sales but, as an artist, it's important to see and hear yourself FIRST before seeking it externally. There's an endless line of people willing to convince you that you're not enough.

I can honestly say that the endless line of voices that have directly or indirectly attempted to convince me that I'm not "enough" was definitely magnified by comparison culture. Social media can be a great tool to connect but it is another gateway to constant comparison and I've seen it streamline or eliminate creativity altogether. Have no fear though, because every time I was challenged to do or be more it forced me to develop a new skill. Skills that I was definitely told no respected artist should have. Oh no, a respected or well paid artist "just shows up and sings." But the more they told me no, the more skillful I became. I used to look at those skills (editing my own videos or launching my own marketing campaigns) as survival skills until I reached "household name status" and, as a result, I was a little ashamed of them. I KNOW! It sounds wild to be ashamed of being skilled but believe it or not, I was told that an artist with status does virtually nothing for themselves directly. So that's why I hid my skills. Luckily, I'm now in a place where I am comfortable embracing all of those skills. My needs have changed and now I'm open to all that life has to offer me within each skill and not just music.

I say all this to say, don't give up and don't shrink. Every time you get a "no", especially with a reason, it will cause you to seek more. If you're lucky, you'll get out there, learn, and do it yourself. If you've been told "no" many times, eventually (if not already) you'll have a plethora of skills that you can personally profit from and manage. So, I say to the artist, you don't have to just stop at art. Using other skills to support yourself DOES NOT mean you can't be an artist. Embrace all that you have become and all that you are becoming, life is much more fun and powerful that way.


Check out my latest podcast episode for a reminder on the go!

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