Hey everyone… This is stuff I’ve picked up on in the last 10 years or so of creative work. There are so many avenues to joy. This is just my personal list for keeping my energy up in this beautiful marathon.
Number One: Just play music, and cut out the bullshit. Sometimes that’s all you need! Below is extra.
Go out to live music/museums/galleries as regularly as possible.
Think of everything as vibration… the more you surround yourself with vibrations (colors, sights, sounds) you love, the more YOU change into the person you love… Stare at a photo you love for more than a minute, listen to music collectively and share that same emotion in the room with people you don’t know, and humble yourselves through others’ experiences. Shifting perspective is healthy and allows us to see more clearly. Whether you believe in a soul or just experience itself, going out and really soaking everything in helps us determine why we like what we like and why we don’t like certain things.
Take silent car rides, often.
Sometimes we need more output and less input. We need the chance to step outside of the structure of what music is made to make us feel, and listen to our inner voice. Give your ears a rest. We listen better in the end this way.
Keep searching for the music and art that make you feel something… that triggers you to write, cry, breathe in deeply, dance, etc. This is the music we need in order to grow.
Why settle for something that kind of makes you feel something… or makes you feel up to date. There is SO much music out there, and a song that will completely relate to you at the time. Keep digging and listening. Sometimes it’ll surprise you in a random shop you were browsing in.
Don’t neglect sleep
This is HUGE, especially with careers like music that require many hours of working on deadlines or attending/playing late night shows. Spend time with your friends after the gig, but not too much time. Your sleep helps your intuition and helps you craft wiser decisions. Also, your life is on the line if you’re on the road touring a lot. SLEEP WELL.
Hang out with your friends, both with and without art in the picture.
People will emphasize on hanging out in this field… BUT!! There is DEFINITELY a point where you’re hanging out TOO much with friends and not spending enough time on your art. We need to set aside time for both. For example, having both co-writes with our creative peers and coffee/walk hangs to release and chill out is healthy. Extra tip: Doing admin/computer work we don’t really want to do with friends makes it easier.
Write down your boundaries and what you value
Each individual holds a set of values and boundaries based on their experience. Write down your values and boundaries and state why it’s there….then look back on it once in a while. If you stay true to what you wrote down, the choice for opportunities to take or friends to hold on to become clearer.
Keep the morning or a few hours of the morning to yourself
I can’t emphasize this enough. We need time alone as artists and people in general (at least I need it)… to be able to set up the day for success or have a stable mind when time comes to engage with people. Having a regular routine is helpful.
Meditate first thing in the morning
After doing your morning duties in the washroom, put your phone on airplane mode, set your timer for 5-10 minutes, kneel or sit criss cross, close your eyes, and focus on JUST your breathing. Put your palms on your knees if you need more grounding or palms up if you need to feel more open to the world around you. If you have a million thoughts in your head, that’s okay. Recognize that it’s happening and that it’s just a thought. Don’t give power to it. If it keeps happening, that’s the work.
Gratitudes, Affirmations, and Constructive Evaluation
After my meditation in the morning, I write down three gratitudes, three affirmations, and three things that would make the rest of my day great. At the end of the day, I write down three awesome things that happened and ask what would’ve made today better (without judgement), then use that for reference for days to come.
Doesn’t matter what time you do it, give your body at least an hour of moving time. Whether it’s yoga, a good cardio session, strength training, or a good ole’ walk. These jobs require lots of sitting and computer time, so don’t slack on your body. Also, know your max heart rate. It’s 220 minus your age for males, 226 for females… so if you’re 25 and a female, your max heart rate is 201 bpm. For fat burning, you’ll want to keep your heart rate between 120 and 140 (think LSD, long, slow distance workout – long run or bike ride). For burning sugar, aim for anything above that for at least 20 minutes (think HIIT, high intensity interval training – sprints, Tabata intervals). Alternate days for HIIT training and LSD workouts. Having one day of rest is always helpful as well.
Create original music
I feel this is vital, because in the end, you’ll have YOUR music to come back to, and nobody can take that away from you. Your creations are unique to you, no matter how much of it is inspired or derived. The more you create, the more you find your own voice and what feels honest to you.
If someone gives you an opportunity to grow in a skillset, take it.
Once upon a time, my friend gave me the opportunity to sing background vocals and play rhythm guitar for her two-week tour. This was great, because I’m really good friends with her, and I love her music. It was all the reason to say yes. I’ve never played rhythm guitar for another artist. It had always just been me doing my original music or doing background vocal work. Adjusting to more responsibility and practice triggered resistance before and in between rehearsals. For example, I would do things that felt important, but weren’t ACTUALLY that important for the time being…like cleaning the house, making money with Lyft, or spending ample time making a delicious healthy meal when I could be practicing. I had to own up to the time needed to practice for her tour. Music is personal, so I knew that if I didn’t at least try my hardest and learn the material, that it would be a reflection of how much I care for her (which I do, a lot) and how seriously I take my own music career. I can only do the best I can with skills I have at the moment. Not knowing how to do something was not a reason to give up. Take out your ego for a moment, give up the negative attitude, and ask questions to your more advanced peers or go on youtube! We have all the resources. If we’re in the practice of practicing, the teacher will appear. Do not stop trying. In the end, the best feeling is knowing that you really tried till your fingers hurt, no matter what the end result is.
Evaluate the situation before you take the gig.
If you say yes to at least 3 out of 4 of these questions, I advise you to take the gig.
1. Do you like the music/vision?
2. Is there decent money involved?
3. Transportation included?
4. Are the people cool?
The next few questions go a little deeper, and sometimes involves just experiencing and doing multiple gigs. It’s also realizing how your creative vision unfolds along the way.
5. How much time do I need to practice and do well/be professional?
6. Do I really have that time, given all the stuff I’ve already booked for myself and all the human faults/tendencies that could happen in between?
7. Even if it sounds like a great opportunity, is this part of the process of creating space for what I really want to do?
Do NOT get stuck in “Analysis Paralysis”. Give yourself a solid timeline to make a decision.
There’s nothing worse than spending HOURS on the internet seeing how others are doing the thing you want to do, coming up with excuses like, “oh, she’s just really hot, and that’s why it was probably easier for her”, or curling up in your bed feeling victim to yourself… Sometimes, you have to experience things in your own way and just GO. Of course, none of us want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere and die of starvation because we didn’t prepare financially. Do enough research, but also keep in mind that life is so short, and the time we make making decisions, could be time spent making that scary decision WORK.
Slow the f*** down, and go at your own pace. Social media is not always your friend.
Oh, social media. Let me emphasize one thing. How you feel about your music matters more than your image or you proving how awesome you are with the 15 seconds of a cover that you posted. Period. It’s not bad, but wouldn’t you rather learn the whole song than grab a few likes for a few seconds of music you KIND of learned? I feel like every time that I said I’d form a better relationship with it after taking a break, it never happened. Instant gratification is addicting. I’ve seen my mental health go down the drain through hours upon hours of crafting my online presence. The more lost I am in life, the more I try to prove that I’ve found myself. It’s wonderful for hosting events, connecting with friends you haven’t seen in a while or knowing what’s going on… or showing family members cute family things, but when you’re exposed to everybody’s best moments, it could either inspire you or send you off in a million directions leaving you numb in analysis paralysis…especially if you’re a very motivated, hard-working dreamer type. If you’re on it and HAVE to be on it, keep the scrolling to a minimum and posts simple. We’re in an age of information overload, and we need to be able to observe, reflect, and rise above the craziness…one piece at a time. What you need to know will come to you.
Sign up/Apply for lots of opportunities that you desire (even if it overlaps).
When the ball is thrown back in your court with either a yes or a no, you can make a more solid decision when time comes. You’ll know in your heart what you really want at that time. It’s also okay to deny things if there’s more than one yes. What a great place to be in! Plus, there’s a chance you could postpone. Whatever is meant for you at the time is meant for you at the time. It is wonderful to be vulnerable and find the people who LOVE you for who you are and what you create. Not everyone is going to like you, but there’s definitely a world out there that loves you and wants to help you grow.
In other words, ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid!’ Figure out the one or two things you have in the morning. For me, it’s oatmeal with berries and tea. That’s it. Lunch or dinner is either at home or somewhere else. Here’s what I’d ideally put in my meals for the day…whether it’s a grain bowl, salad, sandwich/wrap, smoothie, juice, etc.:
1. A ferment (miso, kombucha, yogurt, kefir, raw kraut, etc. )
2. Fruits (berries, papaya, pineapple, etc.)
3. A Bulb (Garlic, Onion)
4. Leafy and crunchy greens (spinach, arugula, kale, broccoli, zucchini, etc.)
5. An herb (basil, cilantro, dill, etc. )
6. Root vegetables (Carrots, beets, sweet potato, etc.)
7. Good fats (coconut oil/butter, avocado, etc. )
8. Nuts and seeds (watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazilian nuts)
9. Grains (if you’re not doing keto or paleo)
10. Fungi (shiitake, maitake, portobello, etc. )
11. Protein (almond/peanut butter, tempeh, or grass-fed/sustainable meats if you’re not vegan)
12. Supplements for whatever you need (B12, Magnesium, Vitamin D, etc.)
Extra: Superfoods (Shilajit, Maca, Goji Berries, Cacao) and Adaptogens (Reishi, Ashwagandha, Lion’s Mane)
Take time to practice and learn the songs you love, as well as your friends’ original songs that you enjoy.
I learned music through learning my favorite songs. If I couldn’t stop listening to it, I had to learn it, and this is what got me better. Also, learn the tunes of your musical peers. You and your friends will get a kick out of learning each other’s material. I promise. It’s the biggest compliment, and it helps our musical vocabulary.
Protecting your art is protecting your heart. Use a contract and invoice system.
Go on your search bar and type in And.Co. It’s a lifesaver for freelancers and easy to navigate. Use it. Look for other freelancers’ contracts that are in your field and copy and paste… Adjust the contract according to your values. Also, keep in the habit of registering your songs/work through BMI, ASCAP, etc. and copyrighting them. Better safe than sorry.
Use the Expensify app to help you record your expenses/receipts. This will DEFINITELY help when tax season comes along. It sucks to dig through everything all at once in a rush. Your future self will thank you.
Do what you need to live the way you wish to live….
If that means working a 9-5 or part-time job, do that! If it gets you to a level of comfort that you need, then do it… stepping out of our comfort zone here and there is healthy too… We’re all trying to make it work… the key is to keep doing and pushing for what we love.
A Consistent Support/Friend Group:
This is what I look for:
1. Friends that are at a similar level in most areas of my musical/visual skillset.
2. Friends that are beginners and want to learn from me. I know I’ll have something to learn from them too.
3. Friends that are more advanced than me in another area of my musical/visual skillset.
Condition: All of these friends are people you have to vibe with and love each others artistic vision. A positive attitude is also important. If you feel drained after being with them or you’re trying TOO hard to understand them, don’t even bother. It’s just not a fit. You don’t have to think too hard. Use your intuition. Personally, I can sense it by a good glance in their eyes and knowing if they’re a kindred spirit or not.
Thank you for reading, guys! Hope this helps 🙂 If you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions, type them below in the comments!