A friend of mine recently asked me to critique his music and I found something that may surprise you.
A lot of us face this same issue, so I thought I'd share my response with you too, so here it is:
I've listened to your tracks and, in all honesty, there's nothing to critique - you're already producing music at a professional level.
Nothing I could say at this point would help you. Saying, "I prefer strawberry ice-cream over chocolate" wouldn't be very helpful.
But there *is* something I noticed that could help.
I had this same problem for many years and it held me back - big time!
Even though the problem's the same, the reason you have it may be different than mine. So, before I tell you mine, let's find out what yours is first.
The best way to find out is to take a moment and think about what would happen if one of your songs went viral.
I'm serious. Stop reading for a minute, layback, close your eyes, and imagine what would happen if one of your tracks blew-up and went viral...
Okay, did you do it?
If not, there's your first clue.
If you didn't do it you have to ask yourself, "why?". "Why would I avoid thinking about that?"
This is a very important question, and the answer to that question could lead to the biggest breakthrough of your life.
So be honest. Would you really like having that much popularity?
Do you want hundreds-of-thousands (possibly millions) of people listening to your music? Because a lot of people, if they're being honest, don't. They're afraid of having that much exposure.
How about you?
Imagine a lot of people listening to your music.
At what point would you start feeling uncomfortable?
10? 50? 300? 5000? 100,000?
Maybe you wouldn't feel uncomfortable at any number!
In that case, how many people would you want to listen to your music?
10? 50? 300? 5000? 100,000?
There isn't a 'correct' answer - it's up to you.
Some musicians say, "I'm not writing for anyone else, just me" and I have to be honest, that used to be me - is that you too?
Are you writing only for you and a couple of your friends? If so, that's fine, but if you want more, then you need to listen very carefully to what I'm about to say:
1. You've developed your musical skills enough.
2. Your promotional skills suck.
I hate to be so blunt, but you wanted me to be honest, so I'm getting straight to the point. Here's what you need to do to fix it:
Take 50% of your session time and use it to build your 'promotional skill-set'.
Do it every day until you're sick of all the attention you're getting.
Hate that idea? I did too.
But, I hate it a lot less now, because I enjoy the results - big time!
When I finally realized that I wasn't writing music "just for myself", that I was writing music for other people to enjoy, I started getting more of what I really wanted:
People to enjoy my music - and the more the better!
But I had to sit down and figure out the answer to that question first: "Why am I not promoting myself as much as I need to?" And, after finding the answer, I came to the honest realization that:
I was afraid.
I was afraid of rejection - of being personally rejected as a human being . . . and you know what happened after I promoted myself more?
People DID reject me, both professionally and personally, and it felt like shit (it still does)!
It's gotten easier over time - MUCH easier.
Imagine getting a job where you hammer metal eight hours a day. The first week is hell. Your hand hurts and it has blisters all over it, but after those blisters heal they turn into calluses (thick/hardened skin) and that's what happens to your emotional sensitivity with repeated exposure.
Maybe fear isn't the reason you're not promoting yourself as much as you should, but it sure was for me, and that's why I waited to tell you until after you explored your own reasons first. Because you may have different reasons.
So, I'm going to say it again so that you fully understand what I'm saying:
If you're happy making music for yourself and a couple of friends, that's fine. But, if you want more, I'm telling you now, you're not being held back by -lack of musical ability- but by lack of skill in promoting yourself.
Saying, "I need to get better before I put my music out." is just a psychological trick to keep you from doing it. I'm telling you, you're good enough - it doesn't get much better than what you're already producing.
You've obviously taken a lot of time and effort to build your musical skills. I imagine you've spent a lot of money on equipment, books, etc. Now, take half of that time, money, and work-ethic and use it to build your 'promotional skill-set'.
Mark my words, because if you do, you're going to discover a whole new world of opportunities open up and, if you're like me, that's the world you've been wanting for a long time.
It's strange because I'm really a private person, I don't like promoting myself, but the price is totally worth it and no body else is going to do it for you. You have to do it for yourself.
I still have a lot to learn, I'm building my 'promotional skill-set' too, and I learned a long time ago that if you want something, help others to get what they want too, and you'll get it.
That's one of the reasons I created the Prosonic Competitions. I wanted to help other musicians get their music out there, and in the process get more 'exposure therapy' too.
I think, as musicians, we're all 'emotionally sensitive' people, (the best musicians always are) and sometimes we just need a little help, a little push to jump off the 'deep-end', and that's all that's needed to make life better, more satisfying and fun.
What's going to give you the most return-on-your-investment right now is:
Build your 'promotional skill-set': read some books, create a plan, enter some competitions, create a website, get a few social-networking accounts going (and post on them daily), and most of all share your music with the world - god knows we need more great music in the world and you've got what it takes!
I hope that helps and if there's anything more I can do please don't hesitate to ask.
I'm going to leave you with a quote from Marianne Williamson. I have this printed up and hanging in my studio as a constant reminder to 'get out there' more.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”