Being self employed in the music business is not easy. I find that the most difficult part of it is not falling into the pit of self-doubt. What I mean by that is that when one start to make money and survive while being a musician, one has a hard time believing it. And so, all too often, one falls into a trap: this is too good to be true, this is too easy, this is too fantastic, THUS I am bound to fail. But they don’t. Because once you have understood how to pay your bills with music money, all you have to do is repeat the process for awhile and you are set!
All would go well if the mind was an easy beast to tame. Unfortunately it is not and Musicians will find a way to make themselves trip. This is a profession that has a very large percentage of alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers, and otherwise very sick people. If the job is too easy, too sweet, too pleasurable to do, one will find a way to put a little (or a lot) of pain in his/her daily routine.
I’ve tried not to fall into any of those trap. I confess that it hasn’t been easy. My mind loves to play tricks on me.
“Oh-oh! says my inside voice, you might be successful today but tomorrow will bring you uncertainty and suffering. You need to get busy and do something, like not sleep for 5 days and think of everything wrong that will happen in your life.” That’s a good one.
Another one goes like this:
“The industry has changed and nobody wants private teachers anymore. Your numbers are bound to decline! Why don’t you stop sleeping (It’s always the sleep with me) and drown in your own angst. That might help!”
There are a million others. My wife laughs at them. She knows me plus she’s smart, so, you can imagine she’s not buying what I’ve got to sale in that department.
Anyway, what can be done? I propose the Gerard Depardieu method. Yes, the great french actor, himself in person. He declared that life is like riding a motorcycle: if you start analyzing why you are magically stable on just two wheels, you’ll fall.
The secret is to just go confidently about your job and not think about your shortcomings and not listen too much what your pesky mind says about your professional situation. Especially when you are an artist. The American version of that is those famous three words: Just do it.
And, I must say, that philosophy has helped me out a lot. I do not, if ever, worry about my job. I find ways to distract my mind at night. I design furniture for the house. I read novels. I think of D&D campaigns I can play with my kids (D&D? You don’t know what it is? D&D stands for Dungeon and Dragon. A wonderful game.) I think about the next project I’m going to dive into head first. This are fun things to think about. Anything to not pay attention to the huge amount of stress that’s ready to spring and drown me in an ocean of useless despair.
That’s my motorcycle. Vrooom!