Hey everyone! Hope you all had a great Christmas Day (or whatever holiday you celebrate - Festivus anyone?) As 2017 winds down and we gear up for 2018, I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who have been reading my blogs, listening to my podcast and following me this past year. I truly hope my articles, podcasts and so forth serve as a powerful tool in your arsenal for navigating your way through the music business.
The last few years have been an interesting and challenging time in the music industry, in some ways things seem bleak. As someone who works on the front lines of industry, in contact with and interviewing some of the brightest minds in the industry, it can be discouraging to hear so many anecdotes of how the music industry has changed for the worse over the last few years.
For reasons I'm sure you're all aware of, it's challenging being a professional musician in 2017/2018. People don't really buy music anymore, it's hard to make money from streaming music, revenue for performing live has remained stagnant for most musicians for several decades, licensing is super competitive and unpredictable and so on. I know, you know, we all know, it's not easy being a musician.
Yet, at the same time, the challenges in the music business present incredible opportunity and possibility for those with the right mindset and perspective. What are you taking about Aaron? What kind of opportunities are you talking about?
There's a great quote, that I remind myself of frequently, when times seem to get tough. The quote is by Billionaire investor Warren Buffet and it goes like this: "Be afraid when everyone is greedy, and be greedy when everyone is afraid". What does it mean? It means that when people are panicking and freaking out about how bad a situation seems, there are hidden opportunities for those with a good eye and the right perspective.
All businesses have cycles of up and down. It's really inherent in life itself if you think about it. We all have good seasons and bad seasons in our lives. We have times when things seem to sailing along very smoothly and then BAMM, something unexpected happens that throw us off center. These difficult periods can be blessings in disguise, forcing us to dig deeper, to access parts of ourselves we didn't even know we had and to rise like the Phoenix from the ashes, soaring to greater heights.
My girlfriend of two and a half years broke up with me about two weeks ago. I wasn't expecting it. I can't say it came out of nowhere, but it definitely caught me by surprise. The first few days I was in shock. Then came the pain and grief. It's only been two weeks, so I can't really say I'm over her, but already I can feel a strength emerging from within that I didn't even know I had. I feel, strangely, at peace about the situation. I didn't really want to lose my girlfriend, but in just two weeks I can see how this crisis is really a blessing in disguise, if I choose to look at it that way.
There are always positive things that come out of seemingly negative situations, if we're open to seeing them. Now that I'm single again, I have more time for myself, more time to focus on my business, I can date other girls again, I can travel, I can spend more time on my music, I can workout more. I can ultimately find someone I'm more aligned with who won't break up with me!
There are TONS of positives, even though I'm sad about losing someone who was very special in my life for a time, I can already see that this situation can be a positive, life transforming period, if I choose to look at it that way. If I remain open to the unexpected opportunities that arise.
I see what's happening in the music business in a similar perspective, although granted the scale and scope of the problems are larger. The challenges we face as musicians in the music business are real, but they present the same opportunity for growth and transformation. We could choose to throw in the towel and do something else, and that decision itself could be an avenue of growth, depending on the path you choose and your reasons for doing so. Or, we can choose to learn from the challenges we face, adapt to the changing industry and ultimately overcome the obstacles we face.
Look, I don't have all the answers. Obviously. I'm just one guy with a passion and love for music, doing my best to figure out and adapt to the industry like everyone else. I do my best to find those who are figuring out how to make it work in the music business and share their stories with you. From things like Youtube to streaming music on Spotify, to licensing music in tv and films, there are lots of potential revenue streams to tap into going into 2018 and I remain committed to sharing what I and others have learned about the new music business paradigm with you all.
But, I also know that it's not easy. I've had my shares of ups and downs with my own music over the last 20 or so years working as a musician. I've had great years filled with growth and exciting achievements. And I've also had years where I frankly just feel live giving up and doing something more conventional and "easy".
For better or worse. I'm still here. Still fighting the good fight. Still writing my songs and hustling to be heard in a noisy, crowded and seemingly over saturated market. Why am I still doing this? Why don't I just give up and call it a day? For the same reason that I'm not going to throw in the towel on intimate relationships. Because, I believe in what I'm doing in the same way I still believe in love and human connection. It's easy to get cynical when things don't work out in life. It's easy when a relationship doesn't work out to simply conclude it's not worth the headaches and stress that it takes to maintain a relationship.
But I know, that when I'm really connecting with another girl and in a loving relationship, it's worth the struggle. It's worth all the pain and heartache and loss that it took to get there. Even when it ends, it's worth it. I would never take back the great moments I've had with an ex-girlfriend just because it ended, even if I could. I'll never forget the moment my ex girlfriend, after a few cocktails, with tears welling in her eyes, told me I taught her how to love. Whoa. Deep. Beautiful. And worth the struggle and ultimately the relationship not working out.
I feel the same way about music. I know in my heart that anything great is worth fighting for. I know, it sounds cliche, but anything worth doing is most likely going to be difficult and challenging. The challenges and obstacles are what force us to grow. I know, without absolute certainty, that the difficulty of being a professional musician, has forced me to become a better musician. In the same way, the pain and difficulty of intimate relationships has molded me into a more well, rounded compassionate person.
I might never be a famous musician, and I might never find the great love of my life that lasts until death do us part, but I know that no matter what happens, I'll keep trying.
Happy New Year!
PS - I just finished a new song called "Down". This one is about how we have to be strong in the face of adversity and trials we face in life. (I wrote and recorded this about a week before my ex and I split, but it seems even more poignant now)
The blog of musician and thinker of deep thoughts, Aaron Davison.