Get Out There And Give 'Em Hell, You Glorious Weirdo

Pardon me while I paraphrase, but according to Shakespeare, there is nothing more common amongst human beings than the desire to be remarkable. According to Buddha, there is nothing more common than suffering. Turns out, they're both right; especially in regard to musicians. As musicians, we chase the dream of getting paid to write and/or perform music; something most of us would do whether we got paid for it or not. Unfortunately, there are a lot of executive types out there who are very aware of this and have been exploiting it as best they can since...sometime around the late 1920s is my best guess. That's where the suffering part comes in; there aren't many performers in the world who get stuck with the short end of the stick quite as often as musicians. Stand-up Comedians and Wrestlers are right there with us, but this isn't a pissing contest; we're all in the same decrepit, sinking boat.

The question here is, “How do you keep a positive outlook when your future looks so bleak?”

The truth is, sometimes you don't keep a positive outlook at all. You dive headfirst into misery and wallow around in it until that unexplainable switch flips on in your brain and you go create music. You pour every negative emotion you have into sound and you unleash it on the world in the hope that they can relate. Since you're reading this blog and not some indie rock, coffee house musician's blog; I can only assume you're a bit of an outcast, such as myself. Perhaps you have problems with anger, depression or anxiety and you make music not just because you can and it's really fun sometimes, but because you feel like it's something you need in your life. The act of creation serves as an anchor, keeping your frazzled nerves and wild, sometimes unjustly negative imagination from dragging you too far under. Whatever your particular set of issues, (we've all got them, it's okay) all this hurt is probably beneficial to your craft. Have you ever sat down and listened to some of the great bluesmen of the 20th century? Don't sit there and tell me Son House or Robert Johnson were always having a good time. Work through your dysfunction, you'll come out on the other side a better person because of it.

“But Hideous, it's really hard to go on sometimes. I feel like nothing I do in this world matters unless I'm on a stage or in a studio.”

Trust me, I know what you mean, but the fact is that someone out there feels like you matter; even if it's not you. Besides, you shouldn't base your self worth on things like record sales or show attendance any more than you should base it on what car you drive or who you're having sex with; don't be so shallow. Sometimes it takes 10 or 20 years before a Metal/Punk/Non-Radio band can quit their day jobs; just ask Cannibal Corpse. However, they reached that level before the majority of music fans abandoned the concept of purchasing physical copies and began settling for free MP3 downloads. Truthfully, unless you've got an inheritance coming your way or you win the lottery, you're gonna have to come to terms with working at a normal job that hopefully gives you time off to tour. The music business is constantly changing, but the one consistency is the fact that brainless, repetitive pop music always sells the most.

You've probably been conditioned to think that if you're not raking in piles of cash and selling out arenas, you're a failure as an artist, but don't let anyone belittle you for having to flip burgers or wait tables; the money you earn doing menial tasks spends just as easily as money earned from merch sales or endorsement deals. Frankly, you'll more than likely make more money at a regular job than playing heavy, abrasive music. One good thing about never breaking into the nearly-impenetrable world of the music industry is that you can feel free to play whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Don't take that for granted, there have been plenty of people who killed themselves, through substance abuse as well as suicide, because they went for a quick buck in music and later regretted it.

You just have to ask yourself if you want to be an artist or a product. If you want to create the greatest album of our time, then that's great; get started immediately because your first few efforts might suck. No matter what you decide to do, make sure you do it for the right reasons. I can tell you from personal experience that trying to make music for anyone other than yourself is a bad idea. I wasted several months playing music that I hated in the name of making money; please don't repeat my mistakes. If all you care about is money, go create and manage a boy band. I also hear there is a secret organization that will gladly give you fortune and fame in exchange for your soul, but I'm pretty sure you still have to make bad music if you go that route.

The best course of action is to create what you want to hear and don't worry if it doesn't catch on. Play those living rooms and basements. Play that run-down bar that only pays you with cheap beer. Walk onto the stage and give that crowd everything you've got even if no one gives you a glance. You're an entertainer and this entire world is your stage. Ignore the overly-cynical critics and just in case it comes up, learn how to hilariously berate a heckler. If you like making noise and screaming along to someone beating a metal trash can; go for it and do it with gusto because you may not have that chance tomorrow. If you really need the ego boost bad enough, just keep telling yourself that the true greats are usually ignored during their lifetime anyway. Keep your head up and never squander your talents.

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