when the going gets tough, there is always enough* * *
Recently, I felt unmotivated. I know,... it's hard to imagine that isn't it? Most people see me as such a motivated whirlwind, but it's true. I've had a long period of this recently. I won't go into how long my moment lasted, but I can at least say that I experienced many feelings during this moment of non-motivation. This included a physical feeling of being tired, to the point that I got so run-down mentally I had two colds in two months plus other physical ailments. On a mental plane, I had no desire to complete any of my projects, or start new ones. I didn't want to sit at my desk and look at my computer, nor even my piano. I "maintained" my days with checking emails, replying quickly, and then not really getting my teeth into anything creative or productive. I had no incentive. What was wrong with me?
My direction as an artist, in this big world called the music business, lost its meaning and joy... momentarily. All I could think about was all the negative stuff: how corrupt the music business is, how venues are so tough and disrespectful of artists (not paying, or pay-to-play), how little opportunity there is to truly create a living, etc. I had doubts. Nothing went easily and money became a focal point of my day; how to make more, where to invest it, doing my taxes, running out. Everything became overwhelming with odds. Even having written a book, toured the world motivating other artists, created four studio albums and set up my own record label plus continued to expand Songsalive! with 16 chapters worldwide,... I had lost the spirit of my own advice.
I started to feel my age. I started to look my age. I have always felt young and free-spirited. But I became oddly aware of my real age, my timing in life, and that time was seemingly running out.
I stocked up on more spiritual books by Neale Donald Walshe, Don Miguel Ruiz, Wayne Dyer, Carolyne Myss and Louise Hay. I stopped playing piano for fun. Only at gigs. Even then my fans noticed I looked bored. I stopped painting. I didn't write much (only when a project forced me to). I became disconnected to my purpose. I began to question "Why am I here?"
As an artist, I have always consider myself a pretty focused and creative individual. Finding my purpose in life had never been an issue. I always knew who I was and what I wanted to do. My objective had been based on an illusive, intangible goal of stardom. Yes, I admit,... even with all my writings and workshops, and how I motivate other artists about "living the journey", I was a victim of wanting that "holy grail": stardom-fame-fortune. Of course I had always seen it in a realistic way, because I was so confident about my abilities, I felt it was a given: I was going to be hugely and utterly successful. Fact.
I didn't realize, until recently, that the definition of my success, including the glamour of the Hollywood music business, and yes even including the cool grass roots indie way of doing things in this music business, was really... a lie. I had lived for 20 years towards a goal that in the end is one big fat lie. There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. This music business is rough, corrupt and illusive. It's all about who you know, how much money you have, and how sexy your dress style is. Whether you're a major artist or indie, business is still business. Fact. There is little room for true talent, raw ambition and a global mission for harmony in this music business, because it really is... a fashion business. Take a look at the music videos on VH1 and MTV now. That is, if you can find any, and those you find are full of glossy "pimp daddys" rapping to their sexy mascara-laden girls with big lips, bikinis and big everything else except their waste line. Is this art? You tell me.
I didn't sign up for this when I was eighteen. I just wanted to express myself, through my music and poetry, and let as many people in the world hear it. But I surely didn't expect to have to lie down in front of the corporate world, and 25 year old A&R "dudes" who have no idea what a good song is, to do it.
So I know damn well why I have been tired. I've been tired of the BS. I've been tired of people telling me that you have to do it a certain way to get heard. I've been tired of people telling me that there is no place for CDs anymore, after I just spent 2 years (and the rest) in the studio recording an album, with high definition sound, wonderful musicians, and heart pouring out with emotion (let alone my pockets pouring out with money to do it.) To see my music, and my art squashed into a tiny mp3 and channeled into an iPod where people don't give a damn about the sound quality, the art work, the concept, the journey of the beginning to end of the CD, ... even the artist behind it... makes me puke. It makes me very tired, and very unmotivated to do it all again.
This business is still a "hit song" game. If it doesn't hit you in the face immediately, or if it's too long, or if it doesn't have a hook in the first 20 seconds, it's done. "Done like a dinner". If you're not writing with Sting or James Blunt, or you don't sound like James Blunt or Maroon 5 or Mariah Carey (I used to love her songs, now they are just clipped, pitch corrected beats and rap that truly has lost my affection for her), then you've got no chance. If you don't look like a preppy, nerdy, or on the other end, whore-ish" 19 year old, then you're too old. That is, if you want to play with the big fish. I spent hours researching L.A's KCRW's program director list for each radio segment, and sent my new CD to every one of them, with a personal note, and ideas on which songs would fit each program (as my album is as eclectic as their station). PASS. No comments, no "thank yous" just PASS. This is a radio station that used to take unsolicited, interesting music. Are they just like the rest of them now?
Yeah, there's an opportunity to play like little fish in smaller ponds, and that's what I've been doing.... I'm like a hugely known artist in America amongst artists and secular markets, but flying completely under the radar. Yeah, I can earn a living, and be independent, and enjoy my journey, etc. But, is this all there is? Does the buck stop here for me? Am I going to stay in perpetual festival and coffee house land, loved and admired by many, but me doing the same thing over and over again? When can I get some sleep? Doing it "indie" aint "easy".
I have written a book about success, defining it on one's own terms, and seeking only one's own approval. Well I did that. Here I am. I've approved my own art, I've proven myself and paid my dues. What now? Do I spend the next 20 years slogging it hard on the road, going from one hippy festival to the next, like Ani di Franco did and still does? I was just up at Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, Northern California. It reminded me of Woodford Festival in Australia, but way more commercialized. I liked the energy, but there was still beaurocratic red tape and mishaps just to get on the bill. Being on the road is hard work. Sure, you can sell CDs, but it's still a hard life. You either love it or you don't.
I enjoyed touring with Eric Idle (from Monty Python). We traveled U.S and Canada for 3 months playing to 2000+ seater theaters. I loved it. But it was still hard yakka (that's "work" in Awwstralian). We would load in to a new theater at noon, dress the stage (I was the stage manager and a performer), sound checked and performed the show, then loaded out at midnight. We'd hop back on the bus and travel all night to the next town. Load in at noon, and so forth. Fun for me. Consider that a celebrity such as Eric, having been doing this for perhaps 40 years, still has to schlep across the country in a van too. That's the life. It's not as glamorous as you think.
How about radio? It's no use anymore trying to promote to every radio station across the country, if you can't compete with the major artists and the record companies that still buy their way to the top 5 listening spots. It takes money and if you don't have money, there's no point in doing a national campaign. You'll just spend your money just to see a nice rotation report each week that is meaningless if you can't actually be in that small or big town to promote the airplay. Besides, there's more than radio now, what with the Internet, Satellite radio, and the ipods, including podcasting. There is a lot to choose from. Sure, spend every waking hour hopping on to every band wagon to give it a shot. I dare ya. I have. I don't sleep.
How about MySpace? A new internet phenomenon that is taking artists and the general public by storm. If you want to meet people, create your own site, blog and promote, this is a great site. I was told, in its infancy, that the more "friends" I had the better I was on MySpace. Well now I don't know. Alot of these "friends" are other artists, all wanting to be heard themselves. Not everyone likes to communicate online all the time. What happened to picking up the phone?
Gigs. Pay to play is still out there. How do we survive the market and make a dollar doing gigs? When will venue owners start paying a fee for original artists? Why do artists always have to be mini promoters too and constantly have to sell door tickets to get a small percentage of that? Surely their talents should be appreciated and paid for, like any other cover gig that often gets paid somewhere. And what happened to people actually going out and seeing live shows???? I don't think I can push my friends anymore to come see me live. They've supported me enough. I can't abuse that friendship all the time. So what to do? Not play anymore?? I get out of town. I tour. This is a 365 day job.
So what's the way? What is the path of least resistance with maximum success? What do we as artists need to do to survive the corporate melt-downs, the gruelling indie road, the business corruption, and make a living? How do we find a way to enjoy this journey? The "indie revolution" has certainly been a great leap forward for independent control over our music. The Internet has been a great champion for taking our business into our own hands. But we the artists, having to be everything all at once, cannot possibly take it seriously, or realistically, if we can't make a living doing it and can't enjoy the Process. Besides that, when will indie artists truly get a break, like the major artists, without having to sign with the devil. Is it possible?
I don't know. I just don't know. What I do know is that we, as artists, are here for a much higher purpose. Art and creativity never runs out, even though we may tire with the business end. There is always an abundance of creativity and musicality in us. I don't think I have ever heard an artist say, "oh, I ran out of things to write about," or "all my song ideas disappeared," or "I don't like my guitar anymore." Being artists is innate. It is what fuels us to keep going.
So what IS the purpose of life, after all? Is it to make sure we get to stand on our soap box and collect coins for doing so? Or is it to see who collected the most awards, hit songs, deals and airplay? Is this supposed to be a competition?
Or is it something to do with our inner selves tapping into a much higher mission in life, through our creativity?
I know that there is always enough creativity to allow us to be who we want to be for the rest of our lives. We don't have to rely on the arts business to confirm that, or acknowledge that. We can do that for ourselves.
I already feel motivated because I'm taking the time to write this to you. I have been writing my second book for 5 months now but I took a month off because I was stuck on this chapter (what you are reading). I was trying to work out how I should go about saying what I really felt, and was thinking of subliminal ways of saying it. But in reality, I had to just sit down and write what was truly on my mind. That's part of the process of writing this book. Being truly honest. I have the book title being "Just Get Out There" and yet I am constantly "going within" with my thought processes here. Most of my readers want to know the ins and outs of getting out there with their art and music and they look to me because, in their eyes, I have done so. Yes, I agree, to a certain point. But I will say, that it truly is all about the Process. It IS about going within and tapping into our truer destiny... in order to actualize it in reality.
The process unfolds as we create it, and the process unfolds by itself, without us even knowing it. We are merely playing a part. The cool thing about this, is that while we maintain our lives and careers, plotting and planning, being motivated or unmotivated, being creative or business like, the Process is happening subconsciously and if you truly believe in yourself (THIS IS THE KEY), then it will ALL WORK OUT according to the higher plan... your higher mission in life.
I have quite a few artists ask me often whether via email or in person "how to get out there". They want to know all the steps and often show their frustrations that they don't know the steps to take. But in fact, by making any step, in any direction, will bring you closer to your higher purpose. Just making the step is important. The facts, the direction, the tips, tools and resources come to us in our travelling. We pick up a book, or we go to a website (www.songsalive.org really is filled with resources and tools), or we go to a seminar or class, and we learn something new. We go cybertravelling on the Internet or we look at other artists' websites to get ideas. Ideas come. It's up to us as to how we grab onto them, or let them go if they don't serve us personally. If we are connected to our Process, conscious and unconscious, we certainly will be on the right path. But we are not always cognizant of the real purpose and can easily be sidetracked by the meaningless act of doing. There is so much out there it's easy to be put off, or sidetracked.
So, what if we were able to tap into this unconscious Process and be awake during it? Wouldn't that be even more magical and success bringing? What if we ask for our biggest dreams, truly ask for them, and really tap into who we really can be? (our highest potential).
There is always enough. That means that whatever you want, if you truly want it, you can have. Whatever you don't want, and you focus on that, that will manifest instead. Like spinning wheels. If you just follow all the opportunities and end up in a quagmire of doing and energy dispensing for no reason, then you get... TIRED.
If I'm tired and unmotivated about an area in my life... maybe, just maybe I need to really listen to that as a sign that that may not be who I want to be. I don't have to live a persona just because I started off that way, or others expect me to be that way. I, and you, can change ourselves, our plans, our dreams at ANY time.
Here's the magic part about this: nothing in this business is real. It's an illusion. But this illusion is based on our own perception, our own reality. So everyone can see it and use it for their own purposes. You don't have to do this the way anyone else has. Just because one artist goes the major record deal route, and another uses MySpace to do grass roots tour hopping and fan collecting... doesn't mean you have to follow any of that. How you work it for your benefit is up to you. Artists are imaginative. We have the great opportunity to use our gifts to come up with "out of the box" creative ways to get our messages and music heard and our art seen and felt.
If you want to change something, the minute you think it, the Process will change in accordance to that. Let your conscious and subconscious thoughts and mind work together to bring you success, peace and joy.
The minute you think there is not enough opportunity, creativity, people to share with, money to have, that's the moment the Process stops working for you. Believing in the "not enough" is based on fear and feeling like we have to just try and survive. Believing in "I can, and I will" is all powerful.
That being said, I can and I will go pour myself some of that nice red wine and listen to the crickets.
Until next time, love, truth and peace
~ gilli moon