Be Careful Who You Listen To

Whenever you do something, in general, people are going to have an opinion about it.

Good or bad, spiteful or benevolent – it is important to realize that it is just that: an opinion.

You are totally free to take it or leave it.

Having said that, it can be hard when someone you trust or respect is giving you advice concerning a goal of yours that is conflicting with your current understanding of the situation.

This is especially true concerning authority figures in your life – parents, boss or friends are primary suspects here.

In these circumstances, I have found that there are two general questions to ask yourself in order to weigh up whether their advice is worth listening to.

1. Have they successfully accomplished the same goal in their own right?

If you want to be a stockbroker, there’s no point listening to trading tips from a butcher; and if you want to build a business, there’s no point listening to someone who’s been an employee their entire life.

Everyone is full of ideas and opinions, but in general, the advice of someone who has actually done what you want to do is an order of magnitude more important than the same from someone who hasn’t.

For example, when I started my first online business, everyone was full of ‘advice’ about things that I ‘should be doing’ – however, not one of these people had ever even run a website, let alone operate a business.

The reality was that they lacked the contextual framework surrounding how these business actually operate, and as a result, their advice was ill-fitting.

Had I had followed their advice, I would have failed miserably.

Instead, I sought out the advice online from people who had actually accomplished what I wanted – an online passive income – and done so recently.

The reason i say recently, is because industries change over time. So be careful listening to advice from someone who may be out of touch with the current state of the environment within which you are operating.

NOTE: don’t think that when you’re successful the advice stops. To this day, my parents will still willing tell me what I should be doing with my business to increase sales.

2. Do they live the life you want to live?

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got – someone

You should always weigh up peoples advice against the life they live.

Advice generally comes in one of two forms:

  1. The “I know best, listen to me”; or
  2. The “I did that and it was the worst mistake of my life, don’t do it”.

For the first, simply recognize that if you listened to every single piece of advice they had, you’d end up with a life exactly like theirs.

If that’s what you want, then listen to them – if not, don’t.

For the second, you must once again refer to the first rule – have they successfully done what you want to do?

If they have – listen to them. If they haven’t, then clearly some part of the equation was missing for them to cause them to fail. In this case, do your own evaluation surrounding the situation, or seek out advice from those who have accomplished it successfully.

I hope this helps,

DM.

The Musicians Rat Race With Social Media

“Just start uploading your stuff online”

This something I often hear social media icons and celebrities advising young artists, and while the spirit of it is true, it grossly misrepresents the reality of content creation in the modern sphere.

See we live in a time where there’s an abundance of music. There’s so much music in fact, that it would be humanly impossible to listen to it all. The advent of Spotify and social media has given everyone a voice and a platform for publishing their music – and as a result, they’re all singing as loudly as possible.

Not a day goes by where someone isn’t ‘dropping their new single’ or saying ‘watch this space, big things coming’. Everyone’s hyping and promoting and releasing, and there’s just too much for us to consume.

As a result, consumers start to develop quickfire ways of deciding whether or not your music is worth listening to, and musicians start chasing more and more means of ensuring that their stuff makes the cut.

This forms the crux of what I call – The Musicians Rat Race.

As the amount of music increases, the time given to each song decreases

The principle of this is very simple – the more music the average listen is bombarded with day to day, the less time they will give your song to make an impression on them before moving on.

Currently, I believe you have anywhere between 3-6 seconds to capture a new listener before they move on. I say ‘new’ because a fan of yours is more likely to really give you a crack before calling it a dud.

It is also important to note that the medium upon which they discover your music will play a large role. If they discover your music on Spotify, they may indeed listen for 20 seconds before moving on, whereas if they discover it on TikTok or Instagram, they’ll likely swipe on within a couple of seconds.

As the time given to each song decreases, the more your song has to stand out from the others

So now you have to stand out from every other schlepper in 3 seconds. How do you do that?

Well all we have to do is look at the history of YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok and every other half baked platform to see the very clear trends (Of course, this doesn’t only apply to music, but really any type of content creation).

The first thing that musicians do is start pumping up the production quality. They start professionally recording all their tracks, and then miming along to them for the video.

In fact, this is so common place now that most non-musicians think that by just sticking an iPhone in front of you and recording, it will sound like a record! The reality of course is that if you stick your iPhone on a ledge and play/sing into the camera with an acoustic guitar, the microphone is pointing straight down into whatever surface you placed it on. The end result is you’ll sound weak and far away, and your guitar will sound non-existant.

But the real reason this is an issue is because the non-musician listener will immediately associate this ‘poor quality recording’ with a ‘poor quality song/performance’ and skip over you. Amongst a sea of professionally recorded tracks, and a plethora of listening opportunities, if they can’t hear your instrument and voice crystal clear (and preferably with a bit of reverb and compression for good measure) – your stuck into the ‘not worth my time’ pile.

What does this result in? Well, if we look at the history books we see very clearly – baseline audio production skyrockets. Almost every track uploaded to YouTube and Instagram these days is recorded in a proper home or professional studio and then mimed over.

When audio production peaks, visual cues begin to rise

Now that audio has an established baseline, the visual cues begin to matter.

If we look at the recent progression of TikTok – what started off as people organically recording themselves with their phones dancing or speaking in their rooms, even still as late as October 2019 – by January 2020, it was standard to be recording videos with DSL cameras and lighting gear, editing in Adobe Premiere, and even adding effects with After Effects before uploading.

When the masses hit, differentiation and ‘wow factor’ become key – and the user base moves quickly.

NOTE: If you’re a beautiful girl or a devilishly handsome guy – congratulations! Right off the bat, you’re going to be able to hold a lot more attention than the rest of us because humans are attracted to beauty (this actually forms the basis of something I plan to write a later post on – called ‘Unfair Advantages’, however suffice to say, an unfair advantage is anything that you have access to that would be difficult or impossible for your competition to replicate).

And if we look at YouTube – how quickly did we go from recording yourself with a webcam, to moving drone shots & film quality lighting rigs?

When production quality peaks, shock factor emerges

Once production quality can’t be competed against, we see the death throws of the desperate content creators – shock factor.

Artists begin creating intentionally inflammatory content in a last ditch attempt to get someone, anyone, to notice their content and pay attention to them.

I don’t want to dive too deep into this because I’m sure you’ve seen where it leads, but the end result is not good.

Some people may gain some traction, though unless it’s an authentic part of themselves the results are rarely desired.

How to win the rat race

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering – well crap, what do i do then to get my music heard?

Hey, I’m glad you asked!

These are my recommendations:

  1. Practice your craft.
    • No matter how good you are, you can always learn more.
    • Make your art so good, people are sharing it with their friends
  2. Consistency
    • Stop working on your Magnus Opum and just start releasing.
    • Perfection doesn’t exist, create the song and release it, then release the next one.
    • Aim for 1 professional quality track per month
  3. On Social Media, it’s quantity over quality
    • Produce more content. And then produce some more.
    • Doesn’t need to be studio quality, but make sure the lighting is good, the sound quality is good, and you start with a bang (no 10 minute long intros).
    • Make is something emotive for people to watch.
    • Get people involved
  4. Don’t font
    • Be honest about where you are in your journey, and be authentic. People can relate to that
    • in other words, don’t be over hyping yourself. BE REAL
  5. Don’t Get Discourage
    • Even though it’s hard, understand that it’s a long journey. Don’t worry about the number of followers you have, or the number of plays. Just know that if you keep working on the above, they will get there when the time is right

Keep Creating,

DM.

Why is it so hard to just sit down and do the work?

What makes it so hard to sit down and write?

I don’t know if other writers feel the same way, but often it seems like the hardest thing in the world is to just sit down and write a song.

For me, I believe it comes from feeling unproductive.

From the empty, hollow feeling of nothingness that arises when you try to create, but can’t. When you want something to come, but it won’t.

In comparison to this, the rest of life is easy. It’s easy to sit down and logically write out some code to make a website. It’s easy to sit down and pro-crasta-write a blog post like this one… but it’s hard to write a song when there’s nothing but an idea, and a vague notion of where it should go.

And everything you try sounds like shit.

But we just keep trying, no matter how hard it gets.

In the end, that’s all we can do.

DM.

P.S. Try not to get disheartened, even though sometimes it’s impossible.

P.S.S. A cup tea will do wonders 🙂

Defining Success

How do you define success?

If you close your eyes, and picture a perfect life for yourself – what does it look like?

We all live in a day and age where money is touted as the yardstick for success. The more money you have, the better.

But everything has a cost.

What’s the point in having a billion dollars, if you work 112 hours a week to get it? If you’re always working, then you don’t even have the opportunity to spend it!

This is a lesson I was fortunate to learn very young.

When I was in school, I had an arch-nemesis. We’ll call him Jacob.

Jacob came from a rich family where everything was handed to him on a silver platter. To make matters worse – he was smart. Very smart. Which means I couldn’t even make myself feel better by imagining he’d end up as a washed up, drug addicted, shit kicker at 35.

So one day I was regaling my dad about how he beat me at a school award, when my dad asked a simple question. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “It’s not fair”

Dad: “Is he happy?”

Me: “Probably, I mean he won the award”

Dad: “Sure, he might be happy for the rest of the evening – but who’s happier day to day”

Me: “I dunno”

Dad: “Aren’t his parents getting divorced?”

Me: “Yeah”

Dad: “Didn’t his father just have another child with another woman?”

Me: “Yeah”

Dad: “and didn’t his mum fly away with the gardner?”

Me: “I think so…”

Dad: “Hmm…don’t know how happy I’d be if I was him”

From that day on, my thinking completely changed. I realised it didn’t matter that he got a Mercedes for his birthday, could afford the best equipment and tutors, or had his future carved out for him on easy street.

None of that matters if you’re not happy.

Now of course I have no way of knowing how happy he truly was. Perhaps he was actually very satisfied in life – but the point was made.

When you switch your yardstick from external measurements of success, to happiness, everything changes.

Look, on average, by the time we finish school, we each have around 18,000 days left to live.

By my view, having a good life means we want to spend as many of those as happy as possible. To spend those days creating, loving, and making a difference in the world.

Not spend them miserable, anxious or depressed.

With this lens on, decisions become much easier.

If you don’t enjoy working in an office, and feel like its slowly sucking your soul away – leave! Go do something you love, even if it pays less!

If you want to make a stop motion web series about the life of an ant – do it! It doesn’t matter if you don’t become wildly famous or get hailed as the next ‘Spielberg’. Simply by doing that which fulfils you, you’ve already won.

I used to wonder why everyone I knew always wanted to go on holidays – the desire simply never came to me.. Then I took an office job for a couple of months (needed the money).

Three weeks into that sucker, I was dreaming of lying on a beach in the Greek islands.

It was then I realised that holidays are just your soul dreaming of escape from the drudgery of the day to day grind.

And if you love what you’re doing everyday, then you live your whole life already happy – you don’t need to escape, you’ve already found your paradise!.

Choose a path that makes you happy. Do things that fulfil you.

Best we know, you get one life. Enjoy it, and be happy.

DM.

Working Away In the Lab

Hey guys,

So Melbourne is currently in a full stage-4 lockdown.

This means no leaving the house except for exercise and grocery shopping (one person per household per day).

Unfortunately, I injured my foot jogging – so unless i’m going to the super market – I’m going nowhere 😂

Oh well, taking this chance to write more music, set up a website, and try get more comfortable being on camera.

The camera part has been difficult because it definitely doesn’t come easy to me.

But hopefully a little bit of practice each day will go a long way 🙂

DM.