On patience, hard work, and being an artist

The truth

I haven’t written anything not relating to my own music on the blog for a while so let’s get the bloggery blabbery mode on for a change.

I felt like writing down a few words relating to hard work, patience, and being an artist.
I suddenly felt an urge to write after giving some advice to aspiring producers as well as having some conversations with some budding artists in addition to some older music heads whose faith seems to get tested every now and then.
And, yes, my own faith does get tested occasionally, too, so maybe I can refer to this post the next time I feel that times are tough for me.

The questions that many artists seem to be face periodically are “Is it worth it?”
There’s also the “Will I make it?”
I’ve found myself asking myself those questions a few times, too.
Then there’s also the old classic “I’ve been making music for x–3 years, I’ve sent demos out and I still haven’t gotten any releases out, so should I quit?”

Let me tell you how I see this and throw in my 2c that comes from my own experience.

Now I’m not saying I’m a big artist that’s seen it all – no matter how you measure my success – but at least I’ve been making music for 20 years, in which time I have released four albums, done a collaboration album, got to remix some artists I really like, put out several singles and remixes, toured the world a bit doing DJ gigs, learned how to do live performances, taught what I know to those curious to learn – etc.

What drives me to do it, and what have I achieved those things with?

Passion.

I LOVE what I do.
I truly love it to death.

Every single time I start up my sequencer and just look at it, or even hear a great sound – be it a drum hit, a synth lead, a pad, a bass, whatever – I’m inspired and feel like I want to create music of my own.
When I feel a funky rhythm, I feel like absorbing the greatness of the most awesome immaterial thing in the world called music.
“Feeling it” alone is the best kind of reward you can get – because, the thing is, not everyone has that in them: not everybody gets hyped by music and all its small peculiarities.

 

Recently me and my friends were discussing growing up and what comes with it.

Work. Obligations. Bills to pay.

We all agreed that we should be doing something that doesn’t feel like work – we should be spending most of our time doing something that’s enjoyable because otherwise it’s not worth doing.
When you grow up and have less free time and more work in your hands, it often feels like doing something that you’re not into 100% isn’t really worth it in the end.
It’s easier said than done, and in most cases, it takes a lot of work to reach that point where you can do a lot of what you love – but even the road to that is worth it.
You should be enjoying “the road” instead of only thinking of the destination.

What I’m trying to say here is that if you do something that really comes from your heart, that alone is rewarding and part of your “payment”. Appreciate that if you have it in you.

Making music – or any kind of art – is only “worth it” if you truly love it.
For me, it’s like I f***ing love it to death, and it’s a passion that’ll keep a fire burning inside me till the last breath I’m going to take.
Since I was around 12 years old (now that was 20 years ago), I’ve only been making music because it’s what I enjoy the most in this life and because it’s almost like a biological need to me: I need to get the creativity out by making music, and I enjoy it – fortunately.

When I started, it took me almost ten years to even think of trying to get something released: I didn’t start my electronic music experiments to try and get my stuff up on Beatport (which didn’t even exist then) in 1992 or to get it picked up by labels. Nope.
My first proper release came out roughly ten years after I started making music.
It’s been only recently that I’ve actually seen some results without trying (e.g., awesome music product companies that I respect have been offering me their stuff that I’m super stoked to be using in my productions).

I’ve realized that it’s always when I’m trying my hardest that it all feels very much like hard work.

It takes years – or half a lifetime, almost, you could say – for most of us to “make it” in the commercial sense, and by that I mean getting paid so you can start paying some of your bills with what you love (oh, by the way, music hardly pays half of my bills but I still love 100% of it) and getting a lot of your music out there. And it’s getting increasingly harder every day, today’s world being what it is. Media is flooded with music, and in a financial sense, many people have little respect towards immaterial things such as music and songs.

These days every man and their moms are producers, everyone has internet access, everybody has a cracked piece of software + zillions of sample packs with sounds that are honed to perfection by professional producers, Facebook is filled with artist pages etc.

It’s almost like everybody can do the same thing, but what’s going to set you apart from the rest?
Passion.

Not everybody has passion burning inside them, pushing them in their game.
If you’re looking to achieve fame and money with your music: forget it, and get a job at Wall Street.
Music – and being an artist – is a game that takes shitloads of patience, blood, sweat, and tears, and it’s when you start thinking about money that the depression sets in and you’ll start thinking of whether it’s “worth it”.
As long as you enjoy what you do, you’ll always be a winner, and the rest – who keep whining and bitching about not “making it” because they’re lacking the right kind of passion – will eventually drop out, and those who do it from the heart and keep it original will thrive on.

Well, heck, maybe this post didn’t come out as thorough/deep/clear as it should have, but I’m not after a Pulitzer; at least I got some crucial points down.

If you’re a producer/artist (it is likely, if you made it this far), I’d also advise you to check out a blog post that partially inspired me called “Hype, Stress and Whiners”, by Resound, a great, long-time Finnish artist who’s been making music as long as I know and who runs a blog with great content relating to being an artist and what comes with it.

Keep doing what you love and screw the rest – and now, excuse me while I go work on some more music.

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