For 10 out of the last 20 years I’ve been more or less single. The other ten years I spent in two long term relationships. During my single years I was sometimes in short term relationships and sometimes wasn’t dating anyone at all. I recently ended a relationship that has been off and on for the last five years. As I find myself single again and contemplating the road ahead, I can’t help but to think of all the similarities between dating and pursuing a career in music. Although the objective is different in each pursuit, there are striking similarities between both endeavors. I believe they both require a similar mindset to do well in and I think if you can learn to do well in one area, you will by default develop an attitude and mindset that you can apply to the other.
Let me explain….
There is no roadmap
Both dating and pursuing a career in music are objectives that don’t really have a clearly defined road map on how to achieve success. Sure there are books and instruction on both topics and there is a lot of good advice available. But there really isn’t a fool proof formula that will guarantee success in either area for everyone. Both pursuits require a certain amount of preparation on your part, but ultimately require taking a leap of faith towards an objective that isn’t completely in your control.
For example, if you’re single and want to meet someone, there are obviously things you can do to increase your odds of success. You can go the gym, invest in a new wardrobe, get your teeth whitened, go out and socialize more and so on. There are things you can do to make yourself more attractive to potential mates, but ultimately it’s a combination of both actions you’re taking and luck or fate. You can choose to go out more and put yourself in social situations that will increase the odds of meeting and connecting with someone, but you can’t really control who you meet and who happens to be in these settings or their reaction to you. When I’m single sometimes I just get lucky and happen to meet someone I hit it off with right away, other times there are periods where weeks or months go by that I don’t seem to meet anyone I connect with, despite socializing frequently.
The music business is similar in that you can write songs and record them really well, promote yourself aggressively and work your ass of trying to move your career forward and still not have much success. You can’t, after all, control who likes your music, who wants to sign you and work with you and who wants to buy your music and support you. All you can do, is do your best job perfecting your craft and learning about the business. Of course you can make progress by taking action, in the same way that you can meet more people and improve your social skills, but you can’t ultimately control who gives you your big break, or even small break for that matter. Since success in the music business requires the actions of other people, you can’t ultimately control the outcome. You can’t make people like your music any more than you can make someone of the opposite sex feel attraction towards you. Ultimately all you can do in either endeavor is increase the odds of achieving the goals you set for yourself by focusing on yourself and the things you can control.
Ultimately both dating and the music business is a numbers game. However that’s not a reason to not take action. Just because you can’t directly affect the outcome of something doesn’t mean you can’t influence the outcome. Dating might be a numbers game, but that’s not an excuse to hibernate in your parent’s basement and play World Of Warcraft all day.
Dating is a numbers game, but that’s the exact reason you need to take more action. The more people you meet, the greater your chances of success are. In the same way, just because there’s an element of luck and timing involved in the music business doesn’t mean you should just sit back and wait for your “lucky break”. The exact opposite is true, you need to take more action, connect with more people in the business and take more chances. If we accept that both pursuits are at least to a certain extent a “number’s game” then logically the more you take action towards either endeavor, the more likely your number will come up.
Love Is What Happens When You Least Expect It?
Like a lot of clichés, the idea that you’ll meet someone when you least expect doesn’t really ring true in my experience. However, like most clichés, there is an element of truth to this expression. In every relationship I’ve had with someone I was, at least on some level, looking to meet someone when I met them. Sure, sometimes you meet someone more by chance than other times, but at least in my experience I’ve always been at least open to meeting someone new when I’ve connected and ended up dating girls in the past.
However, I think the real meaning behind this idea of meeting someone when you least expect it, is that often times when we want something really badly we pursue it too aggressively and with an energy of need and lack. I think when people feel really desperate to meet someone, it’s as if they’re really trying to avoid and run from what they fear (being alone) as opposed to going after what they really want, to meet and connect with someone. There is a subtle, yet very distinct difference between these two approaches. In my early twenties I was a pretty desperate and needy guy and learned very quickly that this mindset is counter-productive. It wasn’t until I learned to just relax and go with the flow that I ended up connecting with more girls, and people in general.
In the same way that it doesn’t pay to be overly desperate when looking to meet a partner, it’s also detrimental to apply this mindset to pursuing a career in music. I think it really boils down to just having a positive mindset and not letting rejection get you down in either pursuit. If every time someone rejects your music you think to yourself, “I suck, my music sucks, I’m never going to make it”, you’re going to have a really hard time moving forward. But if you just take rejection for what it is, one person’s opinion, and keep going, you’ll eventually realize your goals. Not everyone is going to like your music, just like not everyone is going to like you in a romantic way. It just is what it is, reality. You can go cry and a corner and quit being an active participant in life because you don’t like this aspect of how the world works, or you can get up and get out there and keep going after your dreams and goals.
Doing well in either the romance department or the music business, in a lot of ways depends on how well you market yourself. You can be the greatest, funniest and coolest guy in the world, but if you’re not conveying those qualities to potential girls, you’re going to spend a lot of nights alone. Conversely, you can write the greatest, most amazing and groundbreaking music in the world, but if no one knows about it, you’re not going to sell much music or attract that many fans. The world needs to know about you and what you have to offer in order to be interested in you.
In order to do well in love or music, you need to somehow set yourself apart. There is a LOT of music out there, and the vast majority of it goes unnoticed by the vast majority of people. In the same way, there are a lot of single people out there unlucky in love that may or may not be great people, but just haven’t figured out how to present themselves in quite the right way to the right people. If you’re an unknown artist and write an amazing song and upload it to youtube, chances are not that many people will hear it. But if you write an amazing song and make a really interesting and unique video and present it to the right demographic, you have a chance at generating a lot more exposure.
In the same way that you need to know your demographic and target market in the music business, you also need to know yourself well and in what situations you shine in order to attract the right people. For example, I hate loud nightclubs with packed dance floors where I can’t hear anything. I tend to do very bad in these environments because I just don’t enjoy myself. I’m not a super high energy guy, I tend to feel much more at home in more laid back environments where I can engage people in interesting conversations and hear myself and the person I’m talking to. You need to know yourself and who you’re trying to attract in both romance and the music business.
Meeting “The One”/The “Big Break”
Striking it big in either dating or the music business involves an element of luck. My favorite expression about luck is that “luck is what happens when preparation and opportunity meet”. Whether you’re hoping to meet the love of your life or you’re trying to make it big in the music business, you’re not going to be able to control the exact circumstances of how things play out. What you can do is prepare for when opportunity inevitably comes along.
Opportunities to move forward in both dating and the music business are all around us. There are new people you can potentially meet every single day and there are an abundance of opportunities and ways to move forward in the music business. But in both cases, you’ve got to take action and go after your goals. If you’re single and you want to meet that cute girl (or guy) at Starbucks you’ve been eyeing for the last few months, why not just go up and talk to them? If you’re trying to get a record or licensing deal, why not send your music to that label that specializes in the style of music you make? You might get rejected and you might not, but if you don’t at least try, nothing is going to happen.
If you’re trying and not having success, you just need to prepare more and keep trying. It’s really that simple. I believe the universe favors the bold. Just look around and you’ll see evidence of this everywhere. I’ve met so many guys over the years with great looking girlfriends who are complete assholes with very little drive and ambition. But, they have confidence and they go for what they want and so they reap the rewards. The music industry is filled with people with very little or mediocre talent, that still “make it” because they’re just incredibly motivated. Look at someone like Kid Rock, I’m not a huge fan and find his music very mediocre, but the guy oozes confidence and drive and he achieved what he set out to do, become a famous musician.
Here’s the bottom line, whether it’s dating or the music business, there are no guarantees for when or how you’ll reach your goals. But in both areas of life, there are things you can do every single day to have more success. So, give up trying to figure everything out perfectly, embrace the uncertainty and go for your goals with all the passion, confidence and drive you can muster.
Oh, and if you’re a single woman between the ages of 25 – 40, send me a message and let’s get coffee.
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The blog of musician and thinker of deep thoughts, Aaron Davison.