In beginning to enter the music industry, you hear a lot of things. I understand that there are going to be many difficult obstacles to overcome, especially in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. Nonetheless, last month I was able to take a trip to Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee. While I was there, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop at the SALT18 conference where Stacey Willbur, Seth Mosley, Jacob Sooter, and Joshua Silverberg spoke on songwriting and the music industry. Also, I was able to sit down with Collin Brace, who was the Vice President of Sun Records and get some advice from him as an industry veteran. With all that being said, here are the ten best pieces of advice that I’ve heard so far.
No. 1: “Be Confident and Humble, but be Humble First.”
So many times we hear that it is important to believe in yourself because no one else will. On the other hand, humility is a virtue. Finding a balance between being confident and being humble is hard, even for people who are self-assured and already have success in what they are pursuing. Just remember, being humble should be a priority above confidence.
No. 2: Draw Your Line Like it’s the Berlin Wall.
Well, that may be a little overly dramatic., but it is really important to draw your lines as to what you are willing and unwilling to do to get where you feel you need to go. Personally, I dislike the idea that people should draw their lines in the sand. Sand is easily blown away and easy to step over. The Berlin Wall was guarded and was literally set in stone. That is why I like the phrasing, “draw your line like it’s the Berlin Wall”.
No. 3: “Treat Relationships as Relationships, Not as Business Exchanges.” – Jake Jones
It is often said that Nashville is a five or ten year town. This means is that it can take five or ten years to really get into the business. There are countless stories of people waiting as long as 15 years to get a song played on the radio (think of Shane McAnally) or really break into the business. I think that it’s important to remember that your friends need to truly be your friends. Don’t go seeking people for what you think you can do for them, or what you think they can do for you; instead, make lasting relationships with good people, and those will become your supporters. Maybe somewhere down the road, those people will turn into business partners; but in general, your friends should be there as meaningful people in your life, not business exchanges.
No. 4: “There is Never Going to be Another You”- Kris Kroom
A wise woman and mentor once reminded me that there is never going to be anyone else in history that is exactly the person you are right now. In a world where about 8 billion people are trying to fit into specific molds, there isn’t going to be enough room for everyone to be the norm. There is an absolute need to pursue your true authentic self. Be unashamed of who you are. While you were never lost, when you “find yourself”, the understanding of your position in the world changes; and you give yourself a new level of freedom to pursue your own happiness and your own well being.
No. 5: What You Do is Not Who You Are.
So much of the time, people get caught up in this idea that we are the sum of our actions, or that what you do defines you. Realistically, this is not even beginning to explain the identities of people. If I do one good thing, that does not make me a good person. If I do one bad thing, that does not make me a bad person. My actions can reflect who I am or what I believe, but that does not mean they become who I am. It’s a one way street in that case.
No. 6: “If You Can See the Whole Path, it’s Not Your Path”. – M. J. Ryan
So many times we create this “twelve step plan” for life. The only problem with this is that life doesn’t follow our plan. When we make a plan for life, instead of just focusing on the one step in front of us, we forget how to adapt and begin to panic when life doesn’t go as planned or if our steps happen out of order. I personally like to plan one step ahead and see what happens. I know that by only having one direction to go and the goals and drive surrounding it, I can follow the steps as they happen naturally.
No. 7: “Every New Beginning is Some Other New Beginning’s End” – Semi Sonic
This quote has got to be one of my favorite lyrics ever written. It’s from the song Closing Time by Semi Sonic. I love this line because I have found it to be very true in my life. As long as I am following God and going through the doors he has built for me, I have never been disappointed. I think the best way to explain this quote is my experience from my internship with The Cove Church. I interned with global ministries for a year because that is where I was called. For the longest time, I was trying to figure out why on Earth would I be called to help someone build a well when I know I should be speaking through music. When my internship was up, God closed that door; and He began opening some new opportunities to volunteer in the music industry. When that began to happen, I realized that God wasn’t using me to put in a well for my sake. He was teaching me what it meant to have faith and; through that, He taught me how to serve obediently and wholeheartedly.
No. 8: Keep Saying Yes
While it is okay to say no and not commit to too many things, by saying yes instead of maybe, you keep doors open and allow yourself access to new opportunities. It also forces you to keep an open mind and to keep learning about the environment and people around you, because you are inevitably involved with them when you say yes.
No. 9: “Do Something Outside of Your Comfort Zone Every Six Months” – Chris Moroch
Yes, this one seems very specific; but with that being said, it is an old saying from my Jiu-Jitsu coach. He used to encourage us all to do something outside of our comfort zone every six months. He would say that after six months, you have had time to learn and adapt from the last time you were out of your comfort zone. He would also say that if you wait too long, you’ll remember how uncomfortable challenging yourself can be; and you won’t want to do it because the realization of your growth will have faded with time. Making a long story short, challenge yourself often and learn from it.
No. 10: “Build Your Support System Before You Need It” – Collin Brace
Probably the best piece of advice I have ever received is to make a list of the people you are going to call when you feel like you want to quit whatever you are pursuing. Once you have this call list, you should sit down with these people and tell them that at some point you are going to call them feeling hurt, defeated, and struggling to pursue this dream you have been chasing. Tell them that their first instinct will be to tell you to give it a rest, go home, you have tried so hard and maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Tell them that, when they get that phone call, their job is to keep you going. If you don’t do this now, when you call the people that support you, even the people you trust most will follow that first instinct and; in that critical moment, you will either walk away from your dream or begin to make it a reality.
Hopefully, that was helpful. Thank you all so much for reading this. Also, I have a small announcement. I am putting up a new single under the music tab of this website called Can You Hear Me. Please give it a listen and let me know what you think. Thank you! – Sam