Musicians Have Themselves To Blame Part 3: Free Your Mind

By Stacey Blood
Sep 4, 2018

One evening in 2003 I was driving home from my afternoon shift at Alice 102.7 in Fresno. I had just gone through separation and divorce from my wife at the time and was fairly messed up about the whole thing.

But as I was speeding on the way home to catch some high flying Mas and Kings playoff basketball for some escapism, the sunset caught my eye.  Bam!  I was hit with this incredible calm.  It was like the sun blasted into me all of my new possibilities. I could do anything I wanted, go any way I pleased.

I was free! Free of that terrible prison I had locked myself into for the past four years and the feeling was absolute bliss. It is true that we tend to be the wardens of our many prisons.

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this self blame series we explored the economic realities of being a music artist and in this part we’re going to spring you out of the prisons in your head that you need to escape before you can truly be free.

The Machine

Seriously, don’t give the music industry one more of your precious thoughts. What has become of this industry bears no productive solutions for you whatsoever. At one time it might have. Not anymore. Assuming your goal is to be an artist you should avoid any and all consideration of The Machine. If you don’t care about being an artist and you are fine taking orders from bosses, then by all means enjoy!

The Machine isn’t evil. It just does what it does. And what it does is create robots in the mold of a prescribed image. It’s just an assembly line and will toss you out the window the second it has no more use for you. It’s just business though. But it isn’t the right business for an artist. The Machine doesn’t value your artistic freedom. It values your obedience and appearance.

Set yourself free of the idea that you need The Machine for anything.

The Record Deal

Unless you are already established and have a big following and can get a record deal on your terms you don’t want one.

A record deal is a super high interest bank loan that you will never pay back. These deals used to represent mainly sales of records manufactured by the record company. But because of the scarcity issues we came to understand in Part 1, they don’t sell many records anymore.

This lecture is already pretty much obsolete as there are hardly any more of these record deals available, but the few that remain are “360” deals, which means they want a piece of everything you do. It’s understandable, because the amount of money they will have to put up to have success is gigantic!

It’ll have to be paid back somehow, and unless you are the tiny percent that actually has mega-success and can pay it back it will be mathematically impossible for you.

Besides, you want to be an artist right?  Well that means you’ll be doing something unique so that is the best way to never sniff a record deal so it’s all moot.

Set yourself free of the idea that you need a “record deal”.

Ageism

There’s nothing more toxic to an artist than perceived systemic ageism, the idea that only young beautiful people are qualified to be successful artists. And, yes, this is your fault for believing this total bullshit and carrying on how you do because of it.

Right now, this minute, there are tons of people over thirty that think they are “too old” and tons more young people in a mad rush to make it while they are young. This problem exists only between their ears and nowhere else. Real artists aren’t troubled by these things. Real artists are too busy creating art.

The fact is you should be getting more interesting and better as an artist as you get older. Shakespeare didn’t really hit stride until his mid 30’s and not writing his best known piece, Romeo And Juliet, until he was over 50.

Set yourself free of the idea you’re running out of time.

Experts Know Best

Guess what? The experts don’t know anything. The last thing you need to be worrying about is impressing some music professional or journalist. This will take you nowhere really fast.  Ignore the criticism and the praise.  None of it really matters.

Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t learn a lot from knowledgeable people. Quality mentoring will make you better and the more skills you learn the better you will be. But you aren’t making your music for anyone but yourself and if you are doing something special most of these “experts” won’t immediately recognize it anway, so just keep coming.

As an artist you are here to tell your story. You’ll know when someone truly wants to help you when they are doing what they can to nurture your goals, not theirs.

Set yourself free of the idea you need music experts.

Your Plan

Sure, you need a plan.  You have to have a place to start.  But it’s all going to happen a different way.

Your artistic career should be an adventure. Don’t get lost in the music business part. Remember you are living a story, and that story is what makes art.  Go wherever the story takes you and don’t try and manhandle the situation.

It’s okay to fail, but be careful what you perceive as failures. They might be pushing you where you need to be. I burned $20,000 accomplishing absolutely nothing in Nashville in the last ten years. Or maybe I didn’t? Maybe that was essentially a college education that I needed?

My Nashville experience taught me to avoid that place like the plague for now. And guess what? I have been liberated.

It’s okay to fail, but be careful what you perceive as failures. They might be pushing you where you need to be.

Set yourself free of the idea things have to go according to your plan.

I’ll Gain Favor With Successful Artists And They Will Help Me

No they won’t. They don’t care about you. They are busy with their own work and busy lives. Nobody snapped a finger to help them why would they snap a finger to help you?  You need to stop the crazy thinking and get to work.

Additionally, once you start thinking like this you start creating with the needs of other people in mind. If you do this you may as well quit it all right now because you are diluting the only marketable scarcity you actually have left: Yourself.

Set yourself free of the idea that famous people will help you.

The fact is nobody cares about your journey the way you do. It is your responsibility to find a way to be successful and nobody else’s. Do not forget that there likely isn’t a path through the trees for you. You’ll have to clear it yourself. And by freeing yourself of the above toxic mind sets you will make it more of a pleasure rather than a misery.

Got it?  Good.

Now fuck art. It’s all about the damage. – Ajax Garcia

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