Hey everyone! Welcome to the latest emission of Teen Jazz Radio, a part of TeenJazz.com, an online community of up and coming musicians. I’m Shannon Kennedy, your host and I’d like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen to our show and to the fantastic young artists we feature as part of each episode.
Today on Teen Jazz Radio I’m going to talk about how to deal with frustration. In music, or any career for that matter, things won’t always go the way you hoped. You’ll work hard and pour your heart and soul into your projects only to find they don’t quite get the response that you expected. And that’s okay, everyone goes through this in some way or another and you just need to find a way to move past your frustration so that you can keep going and pursuing your passion for music. So in today’s show, I’m going to talk about how to avoid losing focus and keep at it even when you’re feeling down.
Also in this episode, I’m also going to feature the music of Patrick Bradley, Gail Jhonson, Kim Waters, Rick Braun, and U-Nam.
As I mention at the beginning of each show, I know that many of you are listening to this podcast for different reasons – some of you may be here for the advice offered as part of this episode and some of you may be listening to check out the music we feature as part of the show. So, as I mentioned in the last episode, I’m going to try and space the music and the advice out evenly throughout the podcast so that there’s a little something for everyone.
So, before we dive into today’s tips on dealing with frustration, let’s check out our first music set. This week I’d like to introduce you to pianists Patrick Bradley and Gail Jhonson. The first song you’ll hear is Catalan by Patrick Bradley from his newly released album Can You Hear Me and second I’m going to feature Pacific Breeze by Gail Jhonson on Pearls.
Once again, the first track was Catalan by Patrick Bradley. You can learn more about Patrick at his website patrickbradleymusic.com. And the second track was Pacific Breeze from Gail Jhonson. You can find Gail at gailjhonson.com.
It’s the day after you release your new single and you’ve just started to get ready for the day, expecting your email inbox to be filled with orders, press inquiries, and offers for gigs. That last single was really good. It’s the one that’s going to change everything and launch you into stardom. You’re finally going to find out what it’s like to be an overnight success even though you’ve been working behind the scenes on your music for years.
But when you start up your email, it’s mostly empty. In fact, your computer’s fan even makes chirping noises similar to the sound of the crickets one hears in an empty room.
All that’s there in your inbox are a handful of orders, maybe a few likes on Facebook and a “Congrats, I’m so proud of you” from your grandma. The traffic on your landing page for the single is just embarrassingly lacking and the majority of it was from your friends or family.
After the initial shock and disappointment wear off you being to question what you’re doing. Maybe you’re not any good. Or maybe it’s just that “your” audience has overlooked you. Maybe doing music isn’t worth it and no one cares what you’re doing.
The frustration is enough that you decide you want to quit. Stop doing music. Stop writing and recording. Give up on your dreams.
You see other musicians succeeding around you and wonder “why not me?”
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. This experience and those feelings are totally normal. In fact, if you read through some of the interviews with professional and established musicians on Teen Jazz you’ll see that quite a few of them admitting to feeling like quitting at some point or another. But lucky for us, they didn’t. They made the choice to keep going when it came down to whether or not they should give up. And you should too.
Oddly enough, frustration is one of the best ways we can get motivated to keep moving forward. Keep trying and adapting our strategies, our performance, our music. I think that getting frustrated puts us in a place where decide how passionately we want to pursue music and then find the fuel to push us back into it with a renewed drive.
Most musicians will never attain the fame or fortune that many desire, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a decent living doing what you love. But in order to continue loving it, we need to learn how to avoid becoming too frustrated too often.
Stop blaming others for your failures.
There may be exceptions, but I’m pretty sure that no one is out there deliberately trying to thwart your career. If you’ve failed, take responsibility for it. You may not have been prepared, maybe the marketing didn’t work or maybe your music doesn’t appeal to the audience you’re aiming for.
Whatever it might be, it’s a direct result of the choices you’ve made and the preparation you’ve put in, so stop blaming others when you fail. Work harder, practice more, collaborate with others to eliminate any gaps in your abilities and try again.
We wrote an episode a few weeks back about why a career in music isn’t such a bad thing – unlike many of those who spend eight hours a day in a cubicle, we actually get to do what we love and what we’re passionate about (no offense to anyone who works in a cubicle and loves what they do). So stop feeling sorry for yourself and be appreciative of the opportunity you have to do what you love.
Stop wasting time checking stats.
Yes, your sales stats and website visitor stats are fascinating and it’s easy to pop over and check each several times a day, but it’s just a distraction and a way to procrastinate.
It’s good to check stats to see where people are buying your music or what’s bringing people to your website, but this isn’t something you need to do every hour let alone everyday. In fact, it’s probably better to check each once a week or so to get a broader overview. Staring at your stats won’t improve them. Creating good music and updating your website content will. Spend your time doing the latter and not the former.
Our second set of music for today’s show is going to feature saxophonist Kim Waters and trumpeter Rick Braun. The first song you’ll hear is Go-Go Smooth by Kim Waters from Silver Soul and second I’m going to feature Get Up and Dance from Rick Braun’s new album Can You Feel It.
Once again, that was Rick Braun with Get Up and Dance and before that was Kim Waters with Go-Go Smooth. You can find more information about Kim Waters at kimwaters.net and Rick Braun is at rickbraun.com.
Stop pretending you work harder than you do
You get what you work for. You are not entitled to anything you do not deserve and do not assume you deserve anything. If you honestly aren’t working hard enough, pushing yourself, and stepping out of your comfort zone for opportunities, then stop pretending that you’re working hard because you’re not.
If you wait around and just take on the roles that are easy for you and don’t challenge you, then you’re never going to get anywhere. You have to challenge yourself, do things that make you uncomfortable (like getting on the phone and calling people) to succeed. You have to work hard.
Stop thinking of music as a get rich quick scheme.
Yes, there are artists who have “hit the big time” and are highly successful thanks to their music, but that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll do the same. Music is something that you HAVE to love and it’s something that you’ll struggle with at times. You have to work your butt off and constantly put yourself out there.
You have to work on your music EVERY DAY.
And even if you do make it, you have to continue to work hard to stay there. It’s an uphill climb.
That’s not to say that you can’t make a great career out of music nor that you can’t support yourself with it. Quite the contrary. You can be a great musician and make a decent income from your music. I’m not saying that you have to live on the edge to be a true “Artist,” you can have a comfortable career, but you still have to work at it.
If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask them and look for answers. There are tons of places online where musicians making a living at music share what they’re doing and what works for them. Some of them are even willing to answer your questions if you reach out to them.
But don’t reach out to them unless you’ve done your homework and research first.
Renew your faith and purpose in your craft
When we get frustrated it’s easy to lose site of why we decided to do music in the first place. Music is a tough job and so you have to truly be passionate about it to push through the daily obstacles to make it work. Some days are harder than others and some days it’s easy to get frustrated over things like your performance or where you should focus your attention.
When you start out doing music, it’s easy to find the energy to take every gig that came your way, working hard to earn every single penny. After a while, you start to wonder when things start to get “easier” and when you’ll “arrive.” The music and joy of doing what you love begin to take a back seat to how much a gig pays or how many cds your selling. You begin to think less about the music itself and more about the money required to keep doing it.
It’s an easy thing to do, but it just requires a small change in focus to get back to where you want to be.
Don’t get obsessed with numbers – when focused on numbers it’s easy to get caught up in them and make poor decisions. It affects the quality of your work and your enjoyment of the work you do. Others will notice it.
If you really need to focus on numbers, focus on the frequency with which you perform or release new music. This doesn’t mean you need to ignore the other numbers (this is important too), but rather than focusing the business aspects 100% of the time, try to dedicate some time rediscovering your joy in music.
You need to feel strongly about what you’re doing – doing music to get by and make a living is going to show in your work, and your audience isn’t interested in that. It comes across in your performance. You need to go above and beyond and you need to care about what you do beyond just paying the bills.
Be realistic with and committed to your goals
We all have goals, things we’d like to accomplish with our music. Some of them are big and we’ll get there one day, but we also need to make sure we set realistic short term goals. It’s unlikely that you’ll be a “superstar” six months from now (of course there are exceptions), but I wouldn’t count on it. So don’t make that your goal. Create smaller goals that get you closer to that big goal because if your goals are to unreasonable, you’ll only get frustrated with the fact you’re never reaching them.
When you decide you want to pursue something, you need to say committed to it. Don’t lose site of what you’re trying to do and try to do your best each time you step out the door (or into the studio). Don’t settle for good enough.
If you’re asking an audience to commit to you as an artist or a performer, then you need to make that same commitment to them. A commitment to doing your best, not missing an opportunity to record, perform or release music (within reason), and when it gets tough, push through it and serve as an inspiration to your peers.
So there you have it, what are some things you do when you’re feeling frustrated or burnt out?
Our last set of music for today’s show is going to feature U-Nam with his new single Smoovin’ (Radio Edit) from his upcoming album C’est Le Funk.
Once again, that was U-Nam with Smoovin’. You can find more information about U-Nam at unammusic.com and we also did an interview with him on Teen Jazz.
Before I close out the show, I’d like to invite you all to check out Teen Jazz if you’re interested in learning more about me, Shannon Kennedy or the community. As I just mentioned it’s TeenJazz.com.
We’re currently celebrating our 10 year anniversary and as a part of that celebration, we’re giving away a ton of great prizes from our sponsors including BG France, Rico or D’Addario Woodwinds, Rheuben Allen Education Foundation, Kenkase Reed Cases and more. You can find out how to earn entries at teenjazz.com/anniversary. You can also earn entries by participating in our scavenger hunt. The clues are posted on our Facebook page – that’s facebook.com/teenjazz. I hope you’ll join in on the fun! The giveaway closes September 9, 2014 so make sure you head over and check it out before then!
All the links that I’ve mentioned as part of the show will be up on Teen Jazz and Teen Jazz Radio, so if you’re interested in learning more about these talented artists, please stop on by – I know they’ll appreciate the love! You can leave comments on any of our posts at TeenJazzRadio.com.
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In this week’s episode, you heard the music of:
- Patrick Bradley “Catalan” from Can You Hear Me
- Gail Jhonson “Pacific Breeze” from Pearls
- Kim Waters “Go-Go Smooth” from Silver Soul
- Rick Braun “Get Up and Dance” from Can You Feel It
- U-Nam “Smoovin’ (Radio Edit)” from C’est Le Funk