Have you ever seen the movie “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey? In the film, Carrey’s character attends a self-help seminar where he learns about the idea of simply saying yes to every opportunity that comes along. By saying yes to every invitation and every opportunity to do something new, he transforms his life and lifts himself out of a deep rut he had been in.
In today’s post I’d like to explore how you can apply this same principle to your music and your music career, in order to lift yourself out of ruts, or simply move forward and push your career even further, if you’re already experiencing some success. Regardless of where you’re at in your career, by saying yes to more opportunities and seizing more chances that come your way, you’ll experience more success, grow as a musician and move ahead more quickly.
For the last year or so, I’ve taken this approach to my career, without really thinking about it deliberately. I didn’t sit down and say to myself that I’m going to start saying yes to everything, I’ve just found myself starting to embrace more and more opportunities and trying new things. As a result, I’ve made new connections, expanded my catalog of music and have made more money.
I’ll give you a few examples of how this has played out in my life. Think about how you can apply this approach to your own music career. I think most of us have opportunities to move forward that we miss out on, because we’re so focused on what we think we should be doing, or what we would simply prefer to do. There are lots of different ways to be successful with music, that are outside of the realm of the conventional ways we think of “making it’ in the music business.
For example, a few moths ago I started, for the first time in my career, writing instrumental compositions. Of course, I’ve been very aware of instrumental music and its role within the context of sync licensing for years, but I never really considered writing this style of music? Why? Looking back I think I was simply too locked into a very narrow role I had defined for myself and my music, which was that of more a less, a singer/songwriter. I’ve always loved this kind of music, and so I set out to create and focus solely on this genre. For years I dedicated my time to writing songs with lyrics and vocals. Of course, I don’t regret any of this and clearly this style of music is a valid and popular genre of music. I’ll continue to write this kind of music forever, because I love it.
But, now that I’ve started to get into writing instrumental music, it’s opened up a whole new genre and style of music for me to work with and pursue. I really enjoy writing instrumental tracks and I never would have known if I hadn’t said yes to a recent opportunity to create instrumental tracks for a TV show a friend of mine works on. In the past, I probably would’ve said no, that’s not really what I do, or “I don’t know, let me think about that”. I can think back to similar opportunities in the past that I turned down or didn’t pursue with much conviction, because it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do.
I recently heard back about a batch of new instrumental tracks I’ve submitted and was told I would most likely get several new placements as a result of these tracks. This particular show goes into production next month, so we’re still waiting for the exact dates/episodes. As a result of this project, I also now have basically a CD’s worth of instrumental music I can release on Spotify, Youtube, Itunes, etc. All by just saying yes to an opportunity.
I’ve also had another opportunity to write music for the show NCIS, and I’m creating several new vocal tracks this week and next to submit to this particular connection. The great thing about saying yes to these types of opportunities, is that regardless of how things pan out, whether your songs get used or not, you’ll grow as a musician and of course end up with new songs that you can market and sell to other places.
Another great thing about saying yes to more opportunities is that it creates momentum with your career and music. When I have specific projects to write for and specific goals related to my music, it gives me something concrete and tangible to aim for. I find this incredibly inspiring and motivating. When I go through periods where I don’t have these types of goals related to my music, I of course still write and create music, but I have a tendency to get more complacent and lackadaisical with my approach to making music. Sometimes having no restrictions or parameters on the music you make can be incredibly freeing, but it can also lead to a very aimless approach to your music that doesn’t really lead anywhere, if you’re not careful.
As musicians, we need to have goals to aim for, to both motivate us to grow, and on a practical level, just to have something to shoot for and focus our time. I think I was resistant to approaching music this way in the past, because I didn’t want my music to simply become a product or commodity to be exploited in the market place. So I clung to the idea that I have to write music that I’m passionate about and believe in, regardless of whether or not it fits into the box of what is “commercially viable”. I felt like I had to write music that first and foremost, I love, and then try to figure out how to monetize it.
Now, I look at it this way: Of course, I want to write music that I’m passionate about. After all, if I don’t love and enjoy what I’m doing, it sort of defeats the point of being a musician. However, as a professional musician, I also have to write music there is a need and demand for. So now, what I try to do is find the place where my passion intersects with an actual need. For example, with the instrumental cues I’ve been creating, there is a specific format for these types of tracks that works best. The music can’t be too busy or have too many notes, because it needs to support the dialog of the scenes. So, I have to keep this in mind when I’m creating these tracks. This minamalistic approach is different than what I would do normally, but I still love creating these tracks and find plenty of room to be creative and express myself artistically.
By saying yes to more opportunities, I’ve been able to grow my catalog and discover a new side of my musical personality that I didn’t even know existed. If you’re feeling stuck or not sure what direction to go in, seek out more connections and opportunities, then when opportunities present themselves, as they inevitably will, say yes!
Check out one of my newest instrumental tracks, Flying, here. This one, as usual, was produced by Mr. Gary Gray.
The blog of musician and thinker of deep thoughts, Aaron Davison.