gilli moon's blog "Inner Entrepreneurship"
Last month I spoke for my second time, at Berklee School of Music in Boston. It's such an honor to be able to do this and I thank the insightful and prolific Berklee author Peter Spellman for the opportunity, as Berklee is one of the most prestigious music schools in the world. It was very timely to speak to students there, not for the sakes of the writing progress of my new book which I always feel inspired to write a chapter or two after a public outing, but also because the was so fitting with everything that i have been focused on lately. I don't know who learned more, the musician filled audience, or me. What I do know is that through my speaking engagements, i'm getting more and more in touch with my higher mission as an artist and a human being, and much of it has to do with the art of leaping forward by "going within."
I was asked to give my thoughts on the topic of "the inner game of music entrepreneurship." This statement conjured up some fascinating thought and ensuing dialogue. The most obvious cool topic is 'entrepreneurship'. To be considered an entrepreneur in this business of music by Berklee is indeed flattering, let alone the opportunity to speak about it. With everything I do as an artist, musician, author, speaker, label owner, artist community builder, I guess I am indeed entrepreneurial. What is more important here though is that I feel everyone needs to be entrepreneurial, in order to be truly powerful as an artist in this new music/arts business. It's automatic. If we want to lead our lives, or art, our business, we need to be self-driven, business minded, and a visionary. But this cannot be just shown externally. We need to feel it and be it internally too.
The next part about this topic that i was excited about was the idea of talking about the word "game". Dabbling in the music business can indeed be like a game, and it conjured up really cool concepts for me to speak about the game of music, the game of business and finally... the psychological game. This final part was the clincher in totally jumping to the cause to discuss this topic: The "inner" game is what is so cool. Everything,... everything that we do, that we want, who we are,... is based all around our inner work on ourselves, and less on the external. I have written much about this already. Thought is very powerful and a mere idea will turn into reality. Thought breeds action. How we perceive ourselves, what we ask for, how we operate our belief systems, everything about our inner dialogue, emotions, desires,... everything internal,... creates the external. So by combining this whole statement together, "the inner game of music entrepreneurship" just made me bursting with excitement to philosophize over and share. Here are some of my contributions to the subject:
I ask you, "Who are you?"
That's right... how would you describe who you are and what you do to someone in the street, at a party, at a meeting or if I asked you at one of my workshops? The WORDS you use are very important. Here are some examples of what I usually get from artists on first meeting:-
"Hi, I'm Bill. I'm trying to be a better songwriter and working hard at practising my music. One day I'd like to be a professional musician with my own band, but already I feel I'm too old and I just don't know if i'll get there what with all the learning I have to do."
"Hi, I'm Elaine. I want to be a professional songwriter one day and tour if I can. I just don't know how to get there yet. I just need to find the right people, maybe a manager or an agent. I don't know."
"Hi, my name is Tom and I am a guitarist, songwriter and producer. I run my own production house and am creating new projects on a weekly basis, building my credits and writing songs with a strong global mission of unity and human consciousness. I'm very excited by my journey and am discovering new opportunities on a daily basis."
What is different about the first two introductions compared to the third?
How we perceive ourselves, including self-worth and self-discovery, and how we express it to others, indicates why we create success in our lives or not. Clearly Bill and Elaine are not quite in touch with the law of attraction yet, compared to Tom. Bill is "trying" to be a songwriting and looks into the future as to when he will truly come into his own. He also has issues about his age and feels he doesn't know enough to consciously acknowledge his talent nor his status as an artist. Same for Elaine... desiring to be professional, but feels she doesn't know the way to get there, and feels she needs other people to make it happen for her.
These are introductions from artists I get ALL THE TIME. Ninety percent of the artists I come across introduce themselves with language like this, not realizing that it sabotages their goals and dreams in coming true. Here's the crux of it: if you put it out there, even just visualizing it, you will get it. If you are not clear with what you want, then what you want may take a long time. So let's take a look at some of these self-thoughts, and how to overcome some negative patterns, in order to create positive results:
Age doesn't matter.
Let me reiterate something I've expressed before. It doesn't matter how old you are in the world of artistry. Ignore what you hear from hearsay: you can be any age you want to be as an artist in the arts business. It all depends on the market you are targeting. If you want to go for the Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson market, then, sure, being nineteen surely means something, and the major record companies spend most of their budget on the 8-14 year olds. If you want to compete with that, give it a shot, but know what you're up against. The whole pop radio, video and retail machine is geared towards that age bracket. But you have the opportunity to find so many other markets, age brackets and genres for your music. You can be 65 years old and find your audience. Remember, artistry is for life. This is a life long journey. So take the time you need to learn, be and share.
"I am" versus "I want".
My first book was called "I AM A Professional Artist" and I titled it for a reason: to empower artists to make a positive, current affirmation about who they are, based on who they want to be. If you only proclaim that you "want" something, then all you will ever get is "wanting" without any actualization. I'm not the first to say this. It's written in many motivational self-help books. Use your words carefully. Introduce yourself to the world as someone who already is. That way you are empowering yourself to be the person you've always dreamed of being. When Tom introduced himself (above) he clearly said he was a "guitarist, songwriter and producer". There's nothing mentioned about desiring something in the future as if it's a far off dream. Talk about your future as if it's your present, and be convinced as to who you are. Then we will be convinced of you.
Learn but also be all knowing.
Be the student of life, but know you have what you need to be who you want to be. I have also always said that we are students of life. Our learning is life long and beyond college we will always be learning something, on a daily basis. Everything we do will provide us insight into ourselves and we will always be "in development". But I believe that we all have the assets and the know-how to achieve whatever we want to achieve and be whoever we want to be now. I use the term "commence-aphobia" with artists at times, when they procastinate and wait a long time to do something, like perform or record an album. It's like they are waiting for a sign, or someone to say "ok, you are ready now." But what if we are always ready? What if all we needed to do is to take one step. I see that by taking that first step, the other foot will follow, and the seemingly foggy path will clear up and illuminate the way. We don't necessarily need to wait for someone to tell us how to do it, or have our art approved before we put it out there. We don't need to read every single book on the business or go to every class in order to start a project. What we need is confidence and a desire to do the art, for the sake of doing. If we just initiate the step to start, it's amazing how much information, resources, advisors, support and opportunity comes our way, because we have internally opened up to the art of doing.
Seek no one else's approval but your own.
It's a hard statement to digest at first, but when you really consider it for some time, it makes total sense. I'm not suggesting that we don't seek advice, or that we have to do things alone. Definitely have a core few around you, which you trust, to gain feedback about your work. But at the end of the day when all is said and done, you alone are the one to decide if it's right for you or not, if you are on the right path or not. This ties greatly into the whole concept about enacting on who you want to be as an artist and the things you'd like to do. We can wait for ages to have some high and mighty record executive, or media critique, to approve of our process, but really, we don't need anyone to tell us we are doing the right thing for us. Once you agree with yourself that you have everything you need to be who you are and who you want to be, then you can enact without waiting for someone else to tell you it's okay. Every one is unique, and so what you bring to the world cannot really be judged by anyone.
The journey of art is a personal journey, no matter what competitive, commercial or public purpose you may choose to endeavour in.
Enjoy it. It is a game.
How can one possibly proceed into the world of the arts without seeing it as a bit of fun? My gosh, we are so lucky as artists to pursue a life with paint brushes, musical instruments and anything creative. Just think that about ten percent of the world's population has the audacity to make their world revolve around creativity and imagination whereas every child on this planet lived and breathed it before they were 7. What happened to most of us as we grew into adults? The world has gotten so serious! Always business, business, business... mortgages, living on credit, an ever present need for financial security and keeping up with the Jones's. I must admit though, being in the music business, I have had to be more business minded than I ever would have thought. I have had to wear two hats, and artists need to be aware that being in the arts business is about business, not so much about art. But let's use our artistic insights to survive the biz in a cool, creative way. Think of it like a 'game' and know that this game is made up of people playing the game. As my guitarist friend James Hurley says, "it's a game because people are participating in it". This business is all about relationships, strategies and dreams. Play it like monopoly or a long thought out chess game, with patience and a sense of humor. Navigate with passion, and joy, and know that at any time you want out, you can. You can always go back to a 'desk' job in the suburbs, right? You have a choice, to play the game or not. Besides, the music business in particular is all an illusion. Everything you read about fame and fortune, the celebrity lives versus ordinary happiness, ... is all wrapped up in an illusion dished out in glossy magazines. The real business is business, and hard work. The 'game' of the music business can be played with tenacity, joy and passion, if you put your mind to it.
Everyone is unique. Know your uniqueness.
We can find it all quite daunting when you consider all t he things we have to do to be creative, promote our creativity and survive it all. There's a lot of competition too. Many artists all wanting those top 10 slots on the Billboard charts right? Wrong. There is room for everyone at the 'top'. It all depends on what you want, and what you bring to the table. You may not be Britney Spears or Eminem, but you probably have something very unique about you that can tap into a market all to itself. Consider that there are close to 300 million people in the U.S, heck nearly 5 billion on the planet. You can find your niche for your art, if you know what makes you unique. I've always called this, "finding your competitive advantage." Your talent + your uniqueness = your competitive advantage, or edge. It might be that you play bare feet, or you have an interesting hair-do. Maybe your name is different. Perhaps you cross styles with your music, or have a different stage presence or image/persona. Whatever it is, harness it, focus on it, and exploit it. This will certainly help you find your own audience. In this day and age, for the new artist entrepreneur, you don't have to conform to a structure as to what you should look like, sound like, be like or the way you share your music or promote. We are in a new era where not only are audiences in control (they search for their own music based on their own tastes online, etc), but they are busting to get something NEW. Be creative and use your imagination to find new ways to present your music and yourself. This is the time to be very imaginative and to think outside the box.
Discovering you are already the creative, magical, prolific, talented and successful artist that you are, opens up the largest of doors. This is very much an inward empowerment. "Know" it, "feel" it, "be" it, and it will be realized on your outside.
This is your time to be, do, create, think, visualize, and build your empire. Be the entrepreneur, and be yourself.
And so, I ask you,… "Who are you?"
Until next time,