Are You A Balanced Musician?

Hi! How you doin’?

It’s the end of the year, and some of us have set our new year’s resolutions. I’ve not done that for a long time.. Maybe I’ll start again this year. Haha! How bout you? Do you have a new year’s resolution? One of my new year’s resolutions might be to improve in music and business, two of my current passions.

Why do I love music and business? Because they are channels through which I can contribute. Music is about pushing myself to gain perfection in my craft and achieve self-discovery in the process. Business is the transmitter, the way that I can get the work out that I’ve done so that people might appreciate it.

I strive to get to a balance point between the two: on one hand, I want to create as perfect a product as possible, be it through singing, playing drums, etc, so that if people actually spend time to listen to it, they will feel that it contributed something to their lives; on the other hand, I also want to perfect the way that I get the message out that I might have something interesting for people.

I find that a lot of artists today have tendencies toward either extremes. On one hand, there are the purists. These people are perfectionists, they practice hard, they do their best to create quality songs that they feel good about. But usually the problem is that they either are too perfectionistic that they never feel that their material is good enough for the public, or they are so opinionated upon a certain genre or philosophy that they don’t include the audience in their work. This tale of unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

The other side consists of people who have mastered how to get to know the audience, find out what they want, and deliver it to them in the way that they want it. These are usually the ones who make it into the mainstream pop scene, and make tons of money in the process. I’m not trying to be judgemental here, but a lot of these “artists” have reduced themselves to “milking” the current hot trends and have become overly focused on making money instead of enriching the music world by exploring new ideas.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Secretly, I think I do want to see the marketers succeed. Even though I hate the fact that they are giving the audience below average crap, at least they do consider the audience in their art. I am more annoyed by musicians who think that the whole purpose of making music is to show the world how smart they are, even though nobody can understand it.

The middle ground would be for musicians to see ourselves as leaders, and educate the public on our explorations in new musical ideas. Just like the Classical composers who introduced the “Devil’s Interval”, the diminished chords into the mainstream. Or the Jazz greats who stretched harmonic structures as far as the ears could handle. Or the Rockers who revolutionized how we expressed our primal, raw emotions in our songs.

One definition of leadership that I like is: “Getting John to do what you want him to because he wants to do it”. We do this by giving them want they want, or what they think they want, and gradually lead them to where we want them to be; all the while they feel that its exactly what they want. What’s the whole point of being a musician if it’s not to reach out to as many people as possible, and in the process leave behind a legacy to the art that the younger generation can improve on.

I felt good about writing this article because I feel like it’s something I had wanted to say for a long time and I finally have a platform to say it from. That’s my wish for all my fellow musicians out there; may you find your voice, and your platform from which you can shout to the masses. That would be the ultimate reward! Happy singing! =)

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