Artist Statement

Balancing Art, Work and Life!

Defining the True Artist

July21
Author: Rilwan B Motolani

There are musicians who are more than comfortable remaining anonymous. You know, happy to hide behind their guitars or keyboards and be sidemen to the stars of today or tomorrow. Then there are those that have grandiose aspirations of stardom, adoration and limelight. And then there are those who have a driving desire and need to say something original artistically, to express themselves and to communicate that expression to an audience, be it a small niche market or wider demographic.
Those falling into the first category can make a living, albeit fairly modest as a general rule. Those falling into the second category often live in a little bit of a dream world and, depending on their tenacity and 'smart' skills, usually end up disappointed because the focus is set on the destination rather than the journey. The third category usually reaps the rewards of the second category gaining all the success and limelight, but as a result of focusing on their art rather than the shallow and flighty end of the musician's world. These are usually the most fascinating people too, because they generally have a little mystery about them and because they actually possess what most entertainers really want; sincere and dedicated talent!

But there are also those that are in the early stages of artistic development who are still learning their craft, and open to influences. Possibly they will become great artists in the future, possibly not. It will be a question of choices and consequences, and doors opened and opportunities taken advantage of - or not. Life certainly will take you places.

But for those that do have aspirations of artistry and expression, then I firmly believe you must have qualities that others do not have. As an artist I believe one must stand out from the herd in order to be heard. It is so easy to make a record these days. One no longer needs to have the luxury of a recording contract in order to stand on a pedestal and say "I am an artist - buy my record!" With home studios costing one 16th of the price they did ten years ago and with software programs that do it all, you can churn out albums by the dozen if you put your mind to it. And many do.

However, just because you can, why would you? - is my question. Just for fun? OK, valid I suppose. But Isn't it better to spend that time and energy searching relentlessly for something unique and different? God knows record companies are releasing enough mediocrity by the hour. Even signed artists are now under the impression they have something to offer. Maybe they have, but for the most part I don't think so (as public reaction and their CD sales will attest!)

Perhaps I am being extremely unfair, but I think too many artists do not realize that they have a responsibility to say something profoundly unique, certainly if they expect any kind of career longevity. We live in a world where musicians spend their lives emulating their heroes; singers spend their lives emulating Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra and so on. Rock guitarists spend their lives emulating Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Paige, Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen. Jazz guitarists are proud emulators of Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Wes Montgomery. Saxophone players worship Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Michael Brecker. And so on...

Before I go on I have to say that emulating heroes is absolutely imperative in your formative years as musicians. You simply MUST listen to the greats, past and present. One has to have a strong grounding and musical knowledge and one simply cannot get there without listening. However, way too many 'artists' cannot get passed this stage. They need to have peer approval, have to know that other respected musicians around them recognize them and applaud their abilities. Often all this takes place subconsciously.

This 'peer approval' is a stage of development that is also important. Every musician goes through it at some point. It is absolutely natural, but I firmly believe that to become a great artist, you have to move beyond that stage and look inward. I always liken it those wedding band singers, who despite having an honorable and justifiable (and in some cases envious) career, they are all too often 'performing monkeys'. They are often fine vocalists but at the end of the day they are seeking approval and applause and not communicating or expressing anything artistic. They certainly know how to entertain but do they know how to intrigue? It's a huge gap. Nothing remotely subtle about it as far as I am concerned.

The real communicating artists seek unique expression. They are not interested anymore in sounding like their heroes. They have moved past that, now searching constantly, developing and refining their own unique voice. Look at any of the true giants of yesterday and today. Yes you can hear their references, but they also have their own strong identity. At some point during their development something bigger than them took over. The chances are they knew it at the time and took advantage of it and made an extra effort to really hone that uniqueness.

Finding that unique inner voice might not be as easy for some. I think it starts by recognizing your technical weaknesses. It is often those weaknesses that ultimately end up becoming your artistic strengths. Let's face it, if you were able to play the guitar technically perfect, at all speeds, meticulously so every note that came out was totally clean and audible, would this be ultimately interesting to an audience? Yes it might be very clever and impressive, but for how long could you listen to an album where every phrase felt like you were having your teeth drilled!!?

Wes Montgomery played with his thumb because he didn't want to wake the neighbors, ultimately enabling him to become the greatest and most influential jazz guitarist of all time. BB King has about three licks in his entire blues repertoire. Does anyone NOT know BB King when they hear him? Thelonius Monk refused to conform to traditional piano techniques and musical ideas. He simply HAD to play music the way he heard it in his head. He made such a bold musical statement during his time that he is now emulated the world over and revered by the greatest musicians living today.

Technical shortcomings can be the very essence of your unique artistry. Now, should those shortcomings get in the way of what you need to say musically then those weaknesses might need to be turned around so they don't restrict what you hear in your head.

Remember that the true artist simply communicates from within. All other extraneous thoughts, influences and distractions need to fall by the wayside. The minute a lick or a phrase that your hero played or sung (and made famous) ends up on your record - watch out! You might be in trouble. Absolutely steal from your heroes, but just remember that real artistry is about what YOU have to say, not what your heroes have already said before, and have possibly said better.

Push yourself to the max and search for that truly unique quality within. After all, that next great talent we are all so desperately waiting for might just be you!

5 Work at Home Solutions for Working Musicians

As creators and artists of original music, we all would like nothing more than to have our tunes blasting out all over the airwaves bringing in a constant revenue stream of ongoing residual income. Some people figure that out and more power to them. I for one have not and that is not the purpose of this article. I will say good luck to you in your pursuit of that dream if you are still running it down.

The objective here is to discuss 5 solutions working (or non working for that matter) musicians can use or apply to bring in extra income.

These are not get rich quick or easy Internet money programs. They are 5 solid solutions to realistically making extra money to compliment your true passion, playing music. Some of these you may have considered and some sites you may not be familiar with. The Internet has changed everything and it is always changing. There are always opportunities out there. You just need to be careful not to get involved in the wrong ones or involved in too many. The Internet really can be a tangled web if you let it snare you.

One of the best things you can do is to find a business mentor; someone who is successful in the endeavor you are pursuing. Surrounding yourself with successful people will help you overcome obstacles everyone faces when pursuing a venture. You also need a healthy positive attitude and a confidence in yourself. When you develop these, you become inspired to do great things.

With that said here are 5 Solutions:

Solution 1: Royalty Free Music Factory

Royalty Free Music Factory is a website that pays you, the musician, a commission on the sales of your soundtracks. The founder of the site, Mike Rowntree, is a musician and sound engineer who came to realized that there is a huge international market for music tracks you hear on radio, television, and internet sites. Producers of advertisements and programs in these media want to avoid paying ongoing royalties which is how this market niche developed. You upload your 15, 30, and 60 second MP3 tracks along with your full length version(counts as one track) and they are reviewed within 2 business days. Upon acceptance, they are listed on the site for sale. They pay you a 35% commission on each track sold. Visit them at: http://www.royaltyfreemusicfactory.com/

Solution 2: Digitally Delivered Products

Digitally delivered products are all over the Internet and music instruction is certainly no exception. The biggest retailer of such products is Clickbank. Products range from simple ebooks, to full blown membership sites like http://www.musicmasterpro.com/ with online video instruction. To get started on a shoestring, you will need a PDF writing program and a free Clickbank account. The most popular PDF software is Adobe Acrobat, but you can probably find a free shareware program that will do what you need. Accompany that PDF with MP3 files and not only can you charge more, but you'll probably sell more. I purchased Alex Sampson's http://www.bassguitarsecrets.com/ and thoroughly enjoyed what parts I've gone through. Alex charges $49.95 for that product and I feel like he over delivered.

Solution 3: Become An Affiliate.

With your Clickbank account, you can also become an affiliate for other marketers and make a commission on your sales. For example, MusicMasterPro pays 70% commission on membership sales. With your free Clickbank account you will need what is called a "Hoplink" to the affiliate you are promoting. The hoplink is a combination of your unique Clickbank ID and the affiliate you are promoting's ID. Clickbank pays you directly for your commissions.

Another huge Affiliate website is Commission Junction. http://www.cj.com/ You can find other complimentary products to sell and receive a commission if a sales is made through your link.

Solution 4: DVD Production & Sales

An old friend of mine, (Tony who happens to be the Godfather of my daughter), makes great extra money doing this. He is a full-time drummer on Bourbon Street here in New Orleans and makes DVDs and sells them in the clubs he works in. To do this however, you will need to make a deal with the club owner and split the proceeds. They certainly don't want you taking money out of their clientele's pockets, but if you make an arrangement you can both profit from DVD sales.

Back in the day we would pay a sound studio $50/hr, practice to perfection not to screw up in the studio, and then send the thing off to a place called Disc Masters or something like that to make the CD. I guess people still do that, but with all the technology out there you can do this yourself. Like I said in the beginning, we're talking about making extra money - not being a rock star!

Aside from the camera, you will need video editing software like http://www.pinnaclesys.com/ and a CD/DVD label maker. Instead of using the camera audio, Tony has some really small, really inexpensive handheld recording device he uses to record the band live. It's quick and easy and he can pop out DVD in not time. Of course, it does help to have an outgoing singer/frontman to push the product!

Solution 5: The $9 Solution

Chad Rissenan, The Marketing Cowboy, has a $9 Solution to making money online and work at home business. Chad is a guitarist and singer with the North County Band. http://www.northcountyband.com/

Chad's $9 Solution teaches you everything you need to know about Internet marketing and how to develop a successful work at home business. With the $9 Solution, Chad has an audio file and guides you through the whole process of how to build a successful business right from your computer, without ever having to sell products. It also comes with a 10 Day Marketing Success Guide that has income producing activities that ensure your success.

www.ninedollarsolution.net

As a musician and small business owner, I sincerely hope you find some of these solutions helpful in your quest to play music and make more money at the same time. Whatever you do, do something! Stay positive, focused, open-minded and visualize your success.

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Article Source: ArticlesBase.com - Defining the True Artist

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