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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

You are your own island

A while back I had returned from THE most beautiful place: Bermuda. If you haven't been there, I highly recommend it. I was there teaching for the Bermuda Artist and Songwriting Retreat which is sponsored by Songsalive! It's a yearly event and this was the inaugural one.    Richard Bassett, our host, picked us up at the airport and we drove along a one lane road (the main road!) from one end of the island to the other. English cut hedges juxtaposed against wild jungles and rainforests, and the ever present turquoise blue water guiding us on our path. Bermuda is still a British colony but has its own government. They have made their Bermudian dollars of equal value to the U.S. dollar, and in fact are completely identical save for the cool colors Bermudians have chosen for their cash.

        I had no expectations of Bermuda except that I was going to be on a magical journey, and indeed it was. We arrived at 9 Beaches Resort, which is on the far tip of the long island (it's only 1.5 miles wide). The first thing I noticed was the array of huts (cabanas) all on stilts in the water. Was I in paradise? Apparently this Resort had once been an eco-living place. I couldn't believe the water, and the way this "village" was architecturally designed. Quite impressive. The cabana nestled perfectly on the side of the hill overlooking the water. I really felt like I was on a tropical island. Designed in white and blue cloth, with simple furniture, I ended up living in it for 6 days with peace, tranquility and joy. My view of the ocean gave me solace and inspiration.

        For three days, I taught and empowered Artists at the Bermuda Artist and Songwriters Retreat, co-created with Songsalive!, which was held under a huge white tent on the grass near the water. It actually rained for the first 3 days, with the heavens opening up in torrential rain one moment, and then sun the next. Very fickle weather, but all the time it was magical. I felt like we were truly on an isolated piece of property which is so perfect for a retreat. I can't remember when I felt so tranquil as this, yet so energized at the same time.



The grass is always greener…

We had roughly fifty participants in the retreat. My part was to work with them on Artist development, empowering the Artists to understand about the music business, marketing and taking their own steps to get out there, so to speak.

        One participant, known as Blac, was a talented reggae cross hip hop Artist. He spoke very softly and showed a lot of humility. Most of the time he sat listening and enthused, soaking up everyone’s presentations. In my session with the group, when asked about his goals, he meekly put up his hand and offered that he wanted to not only do well as an Artist in his country, but also in America. His dream was to make it in America. It’s an interesting phenomenon that happens worldwide, you know. We all want to “make it” somewhere else, because we think it’s bigger and better. Now, I understand that the U.S. has a lot that’s attractive about it: big population to sell lots of records… the Hollywood glamour. Surely we all want a bit of that, no?

        Most Bermudians want that too. They feel isolated because they live in such a small country, a small island in fact. The music scene there is small. But the music is amazing. They have such a cross section of people that the music is diverse and rhythmic, quite marketable for both America and Europe.

        I’d have to say the same thing about Australia. I left Australia mostly because I felt that the industry was too small, and the population also, to really have a go, especially as an indie Artist, where you can’t necessarily make a huge splash like the majors do, but instead build momentum over time with small markets at a time. In America you can do that with 250 million people. You can market yourself in one area, create some fans, then go to another, build your fan base, and over a few years you can have quite a solid mailing list of fans who love and follow your music.

        I’ve met countless Artists from Australia who seem to land on my doorstep in Los Angeles (as if I’m their long lost sister who can supply them with the Holy Grail) anxious to leave their country behind and find opportunity in America. I often ask them, “What’s happening back home these days?” All I get over and over again is, “Oh it’s dead. There’s nothing happening.”

“It’s too small, you can’t get ahead.”

“Just Australian Idols get on the radio and there aren’t many radio stations so there’s no hope.”

        I got the same answers from Bermudians. I get the same from Italian Artists, and English Artists. Any Artists from anywhere. Similar theme.

        But guess what, I get the same answers from Americans! This is not just a secular phenomenon. It happens worldwide. Many think the grass is always greener somewhere else.

        So let’s get back to Blac in Bermuda. I was critiquing everyone’s demos and Blac offered his up for critique. He gave me a 4 disc CD handwritten on the CD face. He did have a professionally designed CD cover though. I listened to the first track and whilst it wasn’t an in-your-face hit, being slightly R&B but not quite (when you record in a certain genre you really have to nail the production to make it sound authentic, especially to American ears who invented R&B), it was still a nice song and I thought it would do well in Bermuda. He was talented. I suggested swapping out the first slow track with the second, more up tempo song which seemed to be really, really good. I told him, “good demo, a work in progress, and good luck.” I left him at that. He was thankful, ready to work on his material, humbled and sat down in his seat, ready to hear the other critiques.

        A bird in the hand…

Here’s the hook: a week after I left Bermuda I heard that Blac won the Bermuda Music Award for best dance song. These Awards are by no means small. They are respected worldwide. He won the best award in Bermuda for that very song (the second more up tempo song on the CD that I critiqued, and… phew.. the one I liked) which also had been in high rotation on local commercial radio.

        Lessons: one, you never know who’s going to be in your vicinity (or your own workshop, that’s one for me) who come across humble yet are really successful, and two, you are your own island.

        This means that even though you may want to “make it” somewhere else, or think that somewhere else is better than where you are now, don’t ignore the very real possibility that right where you are has the most magnificent, awesome opportunities and rewards. It’s like owning your own island. Blac may have been holding onto the notion of “making it” in America, but meanwhile on his own “island” he is a star.

Think about where you are right now, soak it in and be thankful for what you have, what you have created, and what you are about to realize in your own backyard.

Be your own island.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

 * * *

The silent warrior is in all of us. It's not about war, nor fight and definitely not about struggle.

It's about an inner peace and a whole lot of courage to face all fears in un-chartered waters, finding the path least traveled and at the same time, finding the path of least resistance.

I am a warrior girl and I encourage everyone to tap into their warrior within.

* * *
~ by gilli moon

Come work with me in one-on-one artist coaching, and see how you can align with your sense of self and worthiness to make your dreams come true:

Achieving Abundance, Self-Empowerment and Professional Success as an Artist Entrepreneur
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Australia’s Hollywood based Gilli Moon is an Artist, Author, Motivational Speaker Author and Artist Entrepreneur.
JUST GET OUT THERE, Gilli Moon’s 2nd book, is the Artist's bible to achieving abundance, self-empowerment and professional success as an Artist entrepreneur. 300+ pages filled with in-depth tips, tools, steps and resources on getting out there as an Artist, all the while achieving personal, financial and professional success and joy. The book covers topics such as defining your uniqueness; building your dream and creating a plan around your goals; balancing the art with the 'business' through time management and prioritization techniques; fundamentals in producing, releasing, marketing, promotion, performing and touring; using the Internet; and a plethora of in-depth tips, tools, steps and resources on getting out there as an Artist. Throughout this book, Gilli is guiding you, asking you questions, giving you exercises, and making you think and act  the way a strong business savvy Artist should, leading you to the Artist you ultimately want to become. JUST GET OUT THERE provides Artists inspiration: a sense of hope and assurance through anecdotal stories (some about Gilli’s personal life), motivational messages and real, practical, tried and tested strategies.  Ultimately it’s about enjoying the journey along your path to creative success.
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