THIS article is among the most important pieces of writing in my life, if not the most important. Yes, I have a tendency to wax poetic about how Kerouac changed my life or how TS Eliot ‘Really gets it man, you know what I mean?’ but neither of those authors, nor any of the others I claim to be obsessed with, have directly impacted my life as much as David Wongs two page article he wrote for Cracked back in 2012. The point being, you should read it. It’s the article that made me say ‘Fuck it, I can be a professional music industry person.’ In his piece David Wong hammers home what essentially the main point of all this entire blog, and I think that it’s important to take a look at it in the face of a New Year.
Wong is saying basically the same stuff that I have been exhorting you guys to do for a while now – he just does it better. Essentially it boils down to the idea that ‘You are what you do’. This is a key lesson, especially in the music industry, which is basically what I want to talk about today as we collectively seem to be taking a few days off before diving into all of the madness that 2016 is sure to bring us. After all, rock and roll is a hard life, and any sort of edge that you can get is crucial if you want to move forward.
In his piece Wong mentions how he has dozens of aspiring writers contacting him who strive to make a living off writing and know they have the heart of a writer but don’t actually do anything. In other words, they claim to be content creators, but create no content. In the music industry you’re going to find no end of people who act exactly the same way. There are thousands, if not millions of musicians out there wondering why they haven’t ‘Made it’ whilst simultaneously not being willing to put in tens of thousands of hours into their craft. It’s not a complicated formula, and a huge part of what I love about Wong’s article proves exactly that. If you put time into something you’re eventually going to get good at it and end up having no small degree of success. That’s just how life works.
The reason that people on higher levels don’t respond to you is not because they’re assholes (Usually) but simply because they are too busy out doing stuff, and if you were doing stuff that was of significance then they would take notice. If you say that you just can’t do anything unless someone at a higher level asks you to do it, then you’re just misguided. There are plenty of people above you, and it will always be that way. That doesn’t matter though, it’s the twenty first century, you don’t need to ask permission anymore! (If you click around the main page you should find an article I wrote about this the other day) Don’t pussyfoot around with excuses, you have the entire internet at your fingertips. In his article Wong encourages you to go out and learn a skill, and that’s really important, I strive to learn new skills every year, largely in part due to his article. However, I want you to do one better. Most of you reading this article are already musicians, you have a skill, so I want you to go out and create.
Like Wong says, people are going to hate your creation and make fun of you – even your friends. As a matter of fact, most of my friends still DO make fun of me! But the only way you’re going to get better is if you keep putting stuff out there. If you’re doing stuff people will get scared beause tey know that you are taking active steps to advance your career, leaving them further back in the dust. Creating is the only way forward in the music industry though, and I’m using the word creating in the loosest possible sense. Book a show? That’s creating. Record a demo to throw up on Bandcamp? Creating. Organize and execute a killer ad campaign for your band? Creation. Boom. There’s a lot of way to approach this and to really get into the world of music, but again, like Wong says over and over in his piece, you are what you do, that’s just how it goes.
A lot of people are going to whine about this article, like they whine about Wongs article (Although y’know, way more people read Wongs stuff) because this isn’t what they want to hear. If you keep googling ‘Top ten ways to make money from music’ though, you’re not exactly going to find anything new. Everyone else who wants an easy ride in the music industry is googling the exact same things as you and taking away from valuable time when they could be creating content that actually matters in this world. There’s a whole lot of competition out there, but once you start to actually go out and do you’ll find that this whole thing is a damn sight easier than you might have expected.
So in this new year, heed David Wong, he is the most popular writer on the internet for a good reason. I dream of being half the writer he is, simply because this is the man who first proved it could be done and knows that you too can do it. If you keep pushing for your music in solid tangible ways, and remember that your band is what it does, nothing more and nothing less, then you are guaranteed to have success in 2016. It’s not going to be easy and you’re going to have to change your habits. If you’re not willing to change yourself fundamentally in pursuit of the dream then maybe you need to take a step back and re-evaluate what you want out of your art.