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Overcoming Creative Jealousy

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Jealousy!

What’s green and felt all over? It’s Jealousy, that evil monster. Yep, folks, it’s the dark side of being an artist, and not very pretty. I guess we are all susceptible to it, though some times are worse than others. Some may disagree. but I rank jealousy with masturbation. Ninety percent will admit to it, and the other ten percent is lying. What I’m here today to discuss on my soapbox is not that it’s an evil thing, but that it’s normal. Of course, I’m not condoning the shredding of a rival diva’s costume minutes before she goes onstage (which has happened in real life to a friend). I’m only saying that when she gets on stage, looking totally fly, singing fierce, singing her ASS off, it’s normal to want to strangle her. And if she’s a bitch to boot, it’s even more difficult to be happy for her (”Gee, I don’t know why God decided to give me all this money this year. Isn’t it great??” – Yeah, right). Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I admire every musician that I’ve ever mentioned here in my blog, but I’d be lying if I said there hadn’t been moments during any of their performances that I thought, “Damn, that was good. I suck.” To be fair, maybe someone has thought that during one of my shows. Maybe not, but it’s still a fact of life for an artist.

Being an artist of any medium practically is an ongoing challenge. Commercial demands aside, as an artist you are constantly faced with a blank sheet of paper, canvas, or lump of clay. Sometimes you feel inspired. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you come up with roses, other times it’s manure. An artist is rarely happy with his/her work At least, not for long. You finish a project, and you can’t believe that you created it. The next day (or sooner), you wonder if you can ever do it again. Creating art, like dying, is something done alone.

The helplessness of an artist probably contributes to various addictions. When you add the demands of the marketplace to the equation, it can get ugly. We ARE our demons…Of course, I can still find the positive spin to all of this. When you see someone else kicking butt, especially someone you know (and usually like), listen to your heart. The jealousy and envy stem from wanting something they have. Deep down in your heart, you always know what you lack as an artist. When you watch someone who has it, it hurts. It’s WAY too easy to get stuck in “Oh, she slept with the producer”. Maybe she did, but I have yet to see ANYONE get ahead just because they knew “who to do”. It takes a lot of work to go forward. Besides, the producer probably made her dress up in a Wonder Woman costume. He may even have incriminating photos of the moment as well that she will forever worry about. Tell me that that’s not hard work!

But I digress. The trick, I think, is using that feeling to energize your own improvement. Personally, I find that watching someone who has something I need to improve upon makes me work for it even more. It can be painful, no doubt, to watch someone on stage have a seemingly flawless performance when you feel that your own stage presence lacks, due to nervousness. Well folks, one thing I learned is that there is NO magic involved to great performances. It’s really true that practice makes perfect. Whatever you want to improve, you can. You think you’re not connected, get out and meet people. You want to write better songs, put in the time. You want to know more about the business, read some books.

You know what I hate? People who go to the same seminars that I do, but ask the same question (or different versions of it) time after time. I just want to say, “You got your answer last month. Get on with it!” There comes a time in each life when you have to own up to what you need to do to make it happen. If you can’t or won’t do it, perhaps something else is meant for you. I say all that to say this: sometimes jealousy tells you what you need to do. Other times, it’s plain old envy. Just don’t let it rule your life. By focusing on others, you’ll lose track of your own growth. This year I challenge you. Work on ONE thing that will bring you closer to your goal. You know what it is. Just do it.

Excerpted from The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Guide to the Music Biz by Carla Lynne Hall. Available at http://DIYGuide-MusicBiz.com

30 Days to Greater Exposure

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So you think you’ve done all you can do to build a buzz? Try a couple of these ideas on for size, in no particular order:

1. Send letters introducing yourself to 10 people in the music industry
2. Hold an acoustic House Concert in your living room.
3. List your web sites in search engines
4. Improve your search engine placement using HTML meta tags
5. Plan a benefit performance
6. Be an opening act for a big act coming to your town
7. Get your CDs in local stores
8. Get your CD placed in a record store listening booth
9. Get your CDs in Amazon.com and CDBaby.com
10. Call a local morning show DJ
11. Play an in-store at a Mom & Pop record store
12. Play at a local or college radio station
13. Hold a contest
14. Improve your songwriting
15. Develop a killer live show
16. Go to a local music business event
17. Create a local music business event
18. Keep flyers and business cards with you at all times
19. Perform at a hospital
20. Get a famous person to review your CD
21. Create a media list of all your local music writers
22. Send new reviews to your media list regularly
23. Invite college journalists to your show
24. Apply for or a give a local music award
25. Perform at least once a month
26. Always have an upcoming gig to promote
27. Meet other local bands in your genre
28. Go to their shows
29. Send a regular e-zine to your mail list
30. Pull an old-fashioned publicity stunt

Try a few of these – I dare you!

Excerpted from The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Guide to the Music Biz by Carla Lynne Hall. Available at http://DIYGuide-MusicBiz.com

Success Leaves Clues

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So you want to be a rock star? Or perhaps you want to sell 5,000 copies of your CD? Or maybe you just want to pack the house for your next gig. “How do I do that?” you ask. In this life, there are no guarantees, but one way to become closer to your goals is to study how other successful musicians and performers got where they are. I’m not just talking about “Behind the Music,” although those shows are an education of their own. I mean studying the techniques that others have used to become successful.

We live in a wonderful time where information is as close as our fingertips, thanks to the Internet. A visit to the Google search engine can lead you to new ideas to take you closer to your dreams of success. Reality shows such as “American Idol” and “Making the Band” give you a private (although biased) peek into the world of the platinum plated music industry. If you’ve decided that you want to reach the top, then you have to do your research before you get there.

In Anthony Robbins’ groundbreaking book, “Unlimited Power,” he writes, “Success leaves clues. It means that if I see anyone in this world producing a result I desire, I can produce the same results if I’m willing to pay the price of time and effort. If you want to achieve success, all you need to do is find a way to model those who have already succeeded.” This is a brilliant concept. Even if you tried, there is no way that you could really be a clone of anyone else. However, you can still learn skills from the best if you’re willing to put in the time. Be original, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Try these strategies on for size:

Honestly Assess. Ask yourself, and possibly a trusted friend, which areas are strongest and weakest for you. Do you need to work on stage patter? Could your songs be better? Do you feel that you don’t move enough on stage? Do you wish you were more business savvy? Which areas could use some help? To admit weakness is the first step to becoming stronger.

Check it Out. Immerse yourself in all forms of media to find heroes and muses who excel in those areas. Read books, surf the net, watch movies that inspire you. For an extra punch, find biographies of great people outside your industry. If you’re a producer, learning about great inventors and politicians, for example, can lead to new ideas.

Do Your Homework. When you find one or two muses to inspire you, pretend you are a reporter assigned to interview them for Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair. To prepare, you’d study their body of work, from the beginning to the present, and perhaps read biographies and interviews. When you learn as much as you can about them, you soon find that they were no more human than you are. They just kept going when times got rough (and they always do!), putting one foot in front of the other. Let their stories inspire you but also let them teach you.

Visualize. Imagine, using all of your senses, what it must have been like for your muse to create that masterpiece. What did he do? How did she react? When you are ready, insert yourself as the hero in this daydream. What does it feel like when you are the one reaching that goal? Allow yourself to imagine many wonderful things happening to you.

Work It. Don’t be surprised when you start trying new habits in real life that improve your skills. Have you learned to kick around a mic stand from your rock idol? Are you trying a makeup tip that your muse tried? Are you sending thank you notes because your favorite band sends them? Good! These methods work for a reason, and there’s no law saying that you can’t add on techniques that work for others. Try them out, and take your music to the next level.

Excerpted from The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Guide to the Music Biz by Carla Lynne Hall. Available at http://DIYGuide-MusicBiz.com

Fallin’

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Fallin’
Written by Carla Lynne Hall
Performed by Carla Lynne Hall and Christian Cassan
Recorded at The Cutting Room, NYC, 2005

Say Goodbye

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Say Goodbye
Written by Carla Lynne Hall
Performed by Carla Lynne Hall
Recorded at The Cutting Room, NYC, 2005

Supernova

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Supernova
Written by Carla Lynne Hall
Performed by Carla Lynne Hall and Christian Cassan
Recorded at The Cutting Room, NYC, 2005

My Body’s Keeper

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My Body’s Keeper
Written by Carla Lynne Hall and Christian Cassan
Performed by Carla Lynne Hall and Christian Cassan
Recorded at The Cutting Room, NYC, 2005

Pullin’ Me Back

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Pullin’ Me Back
Written by Carla Lynne Hall
Performed by Carla Lynne Hall
Recorded at The Cutting Room, NYC, 2005

Lucy & Ethel

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Lucy & Ethel
Written by Carla Lynne Hall
Performed by Carla Lynne Hall and Christian Cassan
Recorded at The Cutting Room, NYC, 2005

Long Distance Love

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Long Distance Love
Originally performed by Little Feat
Performed by Carla Lynne Hall and Christian Cassan
Recorded at The Cutting Room, NYC, 2005