February - how's that going?
10 tips for staying focused and drive your career forward
It’s February: a time when new year's resolutions start fading away, buried by the unexpected complexity of modern living. Before you throw in the towel, hear what I have to say.
But first - we’d like to keep this newsletter as specific and useful as it can be. Which topics would you like us to feature on it?
About a month ago, I was digging through a pile of old drum magazines, kept by my family as if they were some sort of ancient relics. It turns out, they still contained lots of helpful information - it’s surprising how much the narrative on the creative process and artistic struggle hasn’t changed much through the years. Building a career in music has always been hard, whichever decade you were born in.
Flicking through copies, I stumbled upon one from June 1999, in which a very famous and accomplished drummer (whom I won’t name in this instance) shared some career tips for the upcoming student. Reading it was pretty inspiring, and a lot of it can be adapted to everyone trying to build something. That article helped me: I thought it might help you too.
Instead of borrowing someone else’s style, borrow their experience, and use it to find your own personal artistic voice.
If you have something to say, say it, and make sure they hear you. If they don’t, repeat it louder. If they still don’t listen, make sure they see you.
Don’t waste energy on what’s not relevant to your musical journey. (Although do find space for your personal wellbeing)
Believe in yourself.
Building a career it’s hard. Be careful about getting distracted and losing sight of your destination. Focus on who’s ahead of you and learn from them.
Anything meaningful requires hard work. Stick to it.
Don’t follow trends blindly. Go deeper, discover the classics and be the next trend.
Don’t be discouraged by criticism. Eyes on the prize.
As long as they talk about your style, let them talk.
Don’t be choosy with opportunities - as long as it fits your ethos, go for it.
Skylumusic’s farewell letter to 2022
Last year we had the pleasure of hosting a few of skylumusic’s beautifully written pieces about the pressure of being creative, and how to deal with it. Today, she gives her farewell to 2022. Yes, in February, it’s never too late :)
Thanks for the wild ride. As my time with you is drawing towards a close, I want to make a few promises. I promise to remember that fresh starts and new beginnings can be chosen at any time (they are not reserved only for the beginning of a new calendar year). I promise to choose and practice self-care and compassion (instead of waiting until I really need it). I promise to live creatively, to be instinctive and playful, in more than the cracks and creases of my life. I promise to trust my inner radar, to take notice of the red lights and follow the green lights all the way. I promise to surround myself with warm, uplifting humans and enjoy the healing balm of making things and collaborating. I promise to nurture my inner artist and the treasure within instead of seeking it out there somewhere.
There’s something about the winter which gives me a sense of permission – permission to stay inside and hibernate, to rest and unwind. In the darker days, in this unwinding, I feel called to create. No longer whizzing about, alighting only to wash, sleep or eat – I can draw the curtains across and check in with my feelings. I can be playful just because I choose to.
No expectations. The pressure is off. Lightbulb! I realise I’m the one putting the pressure on myself and I’m the only one who can take that pressure off and replace it with possibility.
2022, I experienced the gold of bursting with appreciation, feeling uplifted, supported and connected, I experienced healing. Thank you for the golden times and the humans who came through, thank you for showing me a different way and teaching me to know my worth and trust myself. Bring on the festivities and the next page of the next chapter, may it be a creative one and one of connection over separateness, communion over competition and leaning into the not knowing of what it is to be human.
“How we wrote Michael Jackson’s ‘Man In The Mirror’ by Glen Ballard”
Wonderful article in Songwriting Magazine, where Aaron Slater chats to Glen Ballard about the making of ‘Man In The Mirror’.
“So… it took about an hour, honestly. I just sat at the Rhodes, I threw in a couple of lines, we did a little scratchy demo of it, and I just thought, ‘Okay, well, good luck!’ But Siedah Garrett, the very next day, called up Quincy and said, ‘Glen and I have just written the song for Michael. I’m bringing it up to your house.’ And she’s kind of a hard person to say no to, so he said, ‘Okay, bring it up.’”
Everyone hurts – the problem with ‘fixing’ streaming
An insightful and detailed article about what’s next for the streaming model, with a very interesting and forward-thinking conclusion.
“Any significant ‘fix’ is going to come at one, or more, stakeholder’s expense. And even then, increased royalties will only go so far. For example, an independent label artist might expect to earn around $2,000 from a million streams (after distribution and label deductions). Members of a four-piece band would thus take home $250 each. Even doubling the standard royalty rate (which could not happen without breaking the entire model) would still only mean $500 each, which is not going to turn streaming into a living wage for most mid-tail artists, let alone the long-tail. So, ‘fixes’ will only go so far. Perhaps it is time to double down on building new things on top of and around streaming, and nurture those that already exist (Bandcamp, etc.).”
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