10 Things I learned while finishing my first official music project...(Part 1?)
Crazy to think that 2017 is right around the corner. I know that many folks have been ready for quite some time to kiss 2016 goodbye. However, I still think that in spite of struggle it is always crucial to take time to reflect. Additionally, I personally found 2016 to be filled with some of the greatest lessons I've learned to date. Most of these lessons came from the process of completing my first "official" project (Invincible Summer still coming very soon!). Believe you me, I still have much to learn about venturing into the music biz (please feel free to share any trade secrets or if you know how to get more people to listen to my music/a meeting with Dr. Dre), but I wanted to share a few tidbits that I gained through this process. Check them out, in what I believe is no particular order, below.
- It takes a village (The Importance of TEAM)
I truly believe that there is no such thing as being "self-made". This becomes all the more evident when you step into the world of music, but I'm sure is just as applicable elsewhere. I can only speak for myself, but the process of recording a project showed me how limited my skill set really was. Don't be alarmed, I honestly believe that learning that can be one of the best things. It is liberating! You are then able to focus on your main thing and realize where you need help. There's a good reference from the bible about how the eye can't say to the hand I don't need you and the hand can't fill the role of the eye, so on and so forth. Pretty much we all have a part to play. I saw clearly how much of a blessing and dope my team is! I learned just how critical a producer and audio engineer are to having a professional sound/pulling a vision together. I can't thank God enough for what Chin and EJ have done for my music. As well, there have been a whole squad of folks that contributed along the way. Shout out Ryan and Jharmaine for being the plug, and amazing folks like Rene, Bre', Alexa, Jason and many others who I can't even name that slid through our weekend sessions. Having folks around to be honest, encouraging and creative is a major key.
- Money make the world go round $$$
Following a dream can be expensive. Often times people won't take you seriously until you are willing to pay them to. Usually you won't take yourself seriously until you see an impact on your bank account. Full disclosure, I am already one of the cheapest, or shall we say frugal, people you may ever meet. I mean, who likes to see money unnecessarily leave their bank account? Working on chasing a music dream has been one of the most expensive ventures of my life to date. However, I wouldn't trade it for anything and feel it has been worthwhile. So, if you are thinking of doing something of the sort, it doesn't hurt to save up a bit beforehand. The people you want to collaborate with for features, production, video, photographs, PR, etc. etc. will all thank you for it later. Plus you truly get to appreciate the value of gift cards and free office lunches so much more!
- Fight (Like punch slam in the face) Fear!
To be afraid is to be human. You know that feeling of staring off the balcony from 30 stories up, or driving past a petty police officer setting a speed trap/one of those stupidly placed speed cameras when you are running late for work in the morning, or that thing in the pit of your stomach when you walk past that person you've secretly had a crush on for a minute, or that monster spider you spot out the corner of your eye descending from the living room light fixture that could likely turn you into Peter Parker? The list could go on, but I'm sure you've felt it in one way or another. However, that does not mean we have to give in to that feeling. Often times, it is just that, a feeling and not a final state. I constantly wrestle with fear of my music not being good enough, of not being able to write a song as good as the last, of not being able to make it. The truth is we can only move one step at a time, and that one step is just like one more punch slam in the face of fear. We walk by faith, not fear from what we see or do not see. So, I've learned, and am still consistently learning, to fight fear by moving one step at a time towards my dream and purpose.
- Network and Support
I honestly believe there is still something to the whole do unto others as you would have them do to you thing. I know we are millennials and do things differently and all. However, I still think that there is something to showing love point blank period, but especially showing love to folks who are going through the same struggle you are. I think it is huge to network and meet other artists in your local area. This it not only a great way to learn more about your local music scene and venues, but also a dope way to support people who can fully relate to what you are going through. I am still working on doing this more and more, but have already met some amazing artists over the course of trying to get my project out. I think it is dope to show up to other people's shows just off the strength of being supportive. Innately there is a competitive bug that comes out, definitely with rappers, but I believe artists can rest assured in being in their own lane and trusting there is enough out there to eat for everyone. I believe that we should show love out of the sheer fact of it being the right thing to do, and undoubtedly that same love will come right back around.
- Timing is of the Essence
I definitely wanted to release my first official project years ago and be much further along down the music road. I remember trying quite a few times to pull things together and get the ball rolling, all to no avail. I either did not have the right resources in place, the right funds in place, the right amount of time on my plate to dedicate or the right people in my corner to help out. I do not believe in coincidence, but that there is a divine window of time in which certain things are destined to happen. Often times, this causes things to come together so seamlessly that it is truly inexplicable. For the right mix of people, production, songs, schedules and everything else to fall into place at once seems surreal. However, I believe that my project falling right in this sweet spot was critical. Sometimes, when you've done all you know to do being patient is all that is left to do. The time will inevitably come. The question is are we willing to do what we need to do in the meantime to be ready?