I’m back home in Toronto after a 3-week artist residency at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in southern California. It ...
I’m in a Holiday Inn in the lower east side of New York City. Looking out the window, I see rooftops characteristic of what I’ve seen in countless movies and TV shows. NYC has such a vibrancy and rapid pace that’s really unequalled anywhere else. People here are friendly but direct. To be blunt, they don’t take shit from anyone! It’s a place where even the most talented people just blend into the background and do their thing. You don’t come to New York to make it, you come here to survive and keep up with the herd.
This is what I learned after attending the New Music Seminar the past few days. NMS is a big music industry conference where the who’s who of the music biz congregates to discuss how the industry will adapt and survive in an ever-changing world. Meanwhile, there are countless artists like myself who hope to connect with these industry types to help further their careers.
Along with NMS, I also attended the Canadian Music Week Conference a month ago. From both these experiences, some things have become clearer in mind…
1. I need to learn to control my low self-esteem if I have any chance of furthering my career. Confidence and pride in myself and my music is key.
2. I must write more music. In a talk on Sunday afternoon at NMS, the legendary songwriter, Desmond Child, talked about how he’s written over 4000 songs in his life and most of them were crap. But the more he wrote, the better he got and the law of averages kicked in. I agree with this… Not every one of Haydn’s 100 symphonies were great. Making music is laborious work. You punch into the creative factory in the morning and punch out in the evening and then repeat it all over the next day.
3. Working hard and working smart is more important than talent. The industry “experts” say that it all starts with talent. I respectfully disagree. The many music people I’ve met this past month are very talented. But human nature tells us that some people have the inner discipline to work harder than anyone else. It’s the reason why some not-so-talented people attain the success that they do.
4. Be yourself. It’s cliché to say but it’s the truth. Your music is an extension of you, why would you be trying to show anything else than that?
5. I’m lucky to have Lisa as my life and business partner. I talked with so many indie musicians and they all expressed the same challenge…They can’t get going as much as they would like because the business obligations hold them back. The fact that Lisa works 24/7 on all these tedious yet essential elements in maintaining a music career is a true blessing for me.
Who knew that a trip to New York could bring such clarity!!
I am looking forward to getting back home though as this Sunday I get to hear one of those hard working musicians, the uber talented, Lisa Tahara, as she performs one of my most explosive and emotionally gripping piano compositions, Lac-Mégantic. The concert will be powerful and free!