There are very few true ‘tricks’ to surviving in the music industry. I mean as soon as you can accept crippling poverty you are pretty much set. That being said, something that I’ve been realizing I’ve been getting a lot better at (and thus profiting from) has been mellowing out. This isn’t my pretentious way of saying ‘Oh I smoke way more weed now and want you to think I’m smart” because I don’t. Rather it means that when before I used to feel stressed out about everything all the time these days I feel a lot more capable of just chilling out, pouring down a cold one and realizing that ultimately it will somehow all be okay.
I’m not sure when or how this change came over me. Maybe I reached a level of being high strung where it was just like ‘No more’ and the string broke. Honestly, I’m not sure of another way for it to have happened. Regular readers know this last year has been tumultuous but somehow I’ve been able to survive with the only real mantra being ‘All that matters is the beautiful life’ That slogan alone would have pissed me off two years ago. After a point though it becomes fairly clear – be it with rock and roll redemption or the bitter nihilism of the music industry, now that I have been able to just calm down a little bit I’m a much more successful person and am much more able to organize and direct projects.
See – as helpful as 14-15 hour work days can be (And trust me I pull off a lot of them) sometimes it’s the time you take to chill out that is really going to let you survive. I’m not saying you should just have an attitude of total relaxation all the time, but having the ability to occasionally back off and be willing to say ‘screw it’ is extremely important. You have to realize that ultimately things will probably work out, especially I you have somehow been able to pull through and make them work out for you multiple times in the past. The driving passion behind this work though sometimes needs to be tempered if you want to walk out with your sanity intact.
Something that I have noticed is that the people who let themselves get the most stressed out are also among the least successful people. Rock and roll is a frequently dangerous and frustrating industry. Stuff falls through all the time and everyone is at risk of losing money almost constantly. Yet the people who don’t seem to understand this are the biggest pretenders. If you have time to go around talking about how stressed you are and how this whole thing is a bad dream that you can never escape from then clearly you have some sort of free time. It’s the people who just accept the music industry for what it is who seem to be able to find the zen in it. There is a lot to hate here, but the sooner you accept that it’s all gonna be okay then the sooner that this war seems like it has a logical conclusion.
Remember, it’s only rock and roll. There is no greater thing we are building for. We are just young and beautiful and want to share our passions with the world I don’ think that’s a goal that really is life or death, at least on an individual level. It’s easy to get caught up in delusions of grandeur and fall in love with the inherent bullshit of the music industry, but again, they are called delusions of grandeur for a reason. Every day in this industry is scary, I usually spend the first hour after I wake up putting out fires. But guess what. I’m okay with that because I have worked into my day time explicitly set up for me to be putting out fires. If you let that stress get to you you will go insane. So just chill out. Take a walk. Exercise. It’s easy to start to think that all that matters is your projects, but there is so much more to life than that and you need to know how to separate yourself from the torture of this work periodically if you want to keep on surviving.
This is part of why I love Kesha so much. She realizes that this whole thing is a load of hooey but she loves her life anyway. She reminds us that no matter what kind of stress or terror we have to deal with we’re still just humans finding a way through the trials. Remember that maxim, “All that matters is the beautiful life” Keep this in mind as you face nightmare after nightmare that comes from being in aindie band or trying to be a music industry executive. You are getting paid back in ways that are unimaginable to most people so in the end, no matter how bad it gets – it probably is going to end up being worth it.