“Confidence is very sexy, don’t you think?” ~ Jack Palance
Picture it – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in February. An empty Pabst Blue Ribbon blows like tumbleweed through a hotel parking lot, dragging its lonely existence around like decades of fading industry…
That was the backdrop this weekend at the Millennium Music Conference, where I had the pleasure of a weekend of mentoring independent artists on the ways of marketing, management, songs and repertoire. There were two major themes governing my subjective experience at the conference. One, nobody had songs. And two, nobody believes in themselves.
Songs. You gotta have ‘em. And for too many independent artists, their songs are a vehicle for their talent, but not a vehicle for their message. This is a hard lesson to learn, one many artists choose not to take on. Covered previously here: http://bit.ly/MakingItGreat
Belief. You gotta have it. I was disheartened by the staggering number of people this weekend who introduced themselves to me with some sort of self-handicapping message. It was either that their demo “wasn’t very good”, or “was recorded in haste”, or that they “weren’t a great singer” or “weren’t a great musician”, or that they “probably weren’t going to make it in music”.
What the fuck? If you don’t believe in yourself, how am I supposed to? Why not just say “hey, here’s my music, I hope you like it”, or “music makes me happy, I love being a musician”? Why is it so hard for people to step confidently?
I met a young man, 19 years old, who told me, essentially, that he wanted to work at a record company because he wasn’t a good enough guitar player. Each and every one of us is either going to succeed or fail, so why not go for it? Try playing guitar for a while, see how it goes! Maybe your greatness is only being suppressed by your own lack of faith in yourself, so give it a go! I encouraged him to follow his passion – if it’s industry, great, if it’s guitar, great… but let go of the idea that you’re going to fall short.
Granted, that shift in perspective probably isn’t going to happen overnight. But, we only get one life, one shot at following our dreams. Why not go for it?
My wish and advice for each and every artist is for them to dig in and write their best-possible songs, and to perform them with reckless abandon.
Great music will always find an audience.