Working on it since I was 15
I went on the road the first time when I was 17. I was gone for three months, and it was hard on me and hard on my family when I had to come back from being on the road to finish high-school. I took several detours, but for the most part, I was a musician for over thirty years. In spite of some success, I never really “made it” as a musician by having records of my songs.
I got close a few times… but something would always go wrong. For example, in 2003, I played an extended tour of Europe. We went to Sweden, Holland, France, and England. I played from Bogner Regis in the far south of England all the way up to the Isle of Aaron in Northern Scotland. It was an excellent tour, and the people seemed to like my music.
The scenery was breathtaking. From Moose in Sweden to the Holy Isle in Scotland to the coffee shops in Amsterdam to the street performers in London. Everything was wonderful except things kept going wrong. My band-mates made the decision to stay entirely amphibious for the whole tour. Blame it on Amsterdam. The big festival in Sweden got no promotion, and nobody came. That’s a long way to drive to play for twenty people.
And then I got robbed at Waverley Abbey, outside of London. Lost both guitars and all the money. And my passport. I was clearly not in the “gold zone.” After I finally got home – and believe me, with no money and no passport, getting home was tricky – I took some time off to think things through.
I had started researching the internet marketing game and met some of the players. It was interesting, but there were a lot of unknowns. There were also some very steep (but relatively short) learning curves involved. So, while I was thinking, my agents booked another tour – this time to Germany.
That was the tour when all hell broke loose.
Betsy was alone with the boys, both of whom woke up one morning and decided to start acting like the teenagers they were. It was like fishing at the old pond, where the most dangerous thing you’d had to deal with was a catfish, and suddenly a fifty-foot alligator jumps in the boat. And I was over 3,000 miles away.
After that tour, I did some thinking. I either had to move to Europe and play music or do something else. Moving to Europe, at that time, just wasn’t going to work and, more importantly, it just didn’t feel right. Betsy and the boys also had strong opinions about that.
Worse, every time I strapped on my guitar, I felt like the “rock-star police” were going to arrest me. For impersonating a musician. I never once felt authentic as a musician. This is odd – I was an award-winning songwriter, with zealous agents, the recording contract, and a publishing deal.
I was a fraud.
I know some “real” musicians. I have a guitar player friend who has several gold records on his wall for recordings. He tours with a band that has had #1 singles. When he’s home, he sits in his studio and plays guitar. For fun.
I once heard an interview with YoYo Ma, and it touched me. He talked about the most beautiful moments of his life. Those moments are when he takes his million dollars+ cello out of its case and sits alone, just loving the sound and touch of his instrument. My guitars stay in their cases between tours. That was a clue.
Ever since I discovered music, I’ve been in the “Gold Zone.” It was like finally seeing the “Pull” sign on a door I had been trying to push open for decades. Duh. It was crystal-clear to me. I “got it” at the first internet music seminar I attended. The people who were successful were the ones who made products and sold them. The people who were not successful were the ones who did something else – or did nothing.
I had a lot of help. I’ve immersed myself in music marketing, read scores of books, and sought out the company of successful music marketers. I threw myself at learning curves and bounded right up to them. I had a blast. I quickly made a pile of money. I found my “Gold Zone.”
Have you found your “Gold Zone,” yet?
It’s easy, especially in the music marketing world. You can make a real, even a GREAT, living by solving other people’s problems. It pays well, and it’s karmically good for you. You can pick almost any subject – cooking, driving, relationships, ebook authoring, arts, etc, anything but how to get rich online (please – unless you have become rich online), and build a portable Empire by solving problems in that niche.
I have a saying, which will eventually be turned into a book – “Every problem is a product.” So, I make money, and I help others. Perfect niche.
How can you tell if you’re in your “Gold Zone?” Things get real easy.
One of the things I stress to my coaching clients is, “if this is hard for you, you’re doing it wrong.”
If you find yourself getting bogged down and disinterested in your topic – you’ve picked the wrong topic. Quickly choose another one. If your subscribers consistently choose not to buy your products, quickly change your strategy. In the online world, you can make dramatic changes instantly. Life is too short to bang your head against the door marked “pull.” You can push and push and bang and hit and throw bombs and cry and just generally exhaust yourself and the door will stay closed.
I would say that the most important thing you can do to improve your music life is to find your artists. Find your passion, and then find people to pay you for doing what you love.
Quit banging on the door and just open it.