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Jamie's Blog Week 6

Hello friends, family, boys, girls, dogs, cats, ok- whoever is reading this, thanks for tuning in! So I'm going to dive into something a bit personal this week that some people might not look favorably upon, but I write with the intention of connecting with others who are in my place, my profession, or just want to know a bit more about the day to day life of being a musician. Anyway, I hope you enjoy, comments are encouraged!

Week 6- "How To Take Criticism (And When You Need To Stop Listening)"

Before I start, let me say that I am the worlds biggest fan of good, honest critiques, but there's a difference between that and criticism. We are going to be talking the "What if they don't like me..." question today. I will most definitely be covering the value in seeking out trusted opinions at some point, but today will be the look into the reality for most musicians; You can't please everyone. Sometimes, you can't please anyone! Sometimes you'll please your mom, your close friends, maybe even your mom/dad's coworkers, but no you will not please everyone. But, the good news is that's not your job. Your job is to make music that you absolutely love. Until very, very recently I was making music that I felt like everyone should like, instead of songs that I like writing and listening to. And no surprise, when I share the songs I actually love owning, I almost always get a better response than the songs that I "designed" to please an audience. Now, here's the part I hesitate to get into, it's going to most likely come off as self pity, but I promise I share this experience only to show musicians the light at the other end of the tunnel. Ever since 6th grade, I have struggled with immense self doubt, onstage and offstage. I fear the constant talking about me and what I perceived to be shortcomings. Reality was, those voices that I tried to run from or ignore usually never existed. I played, sang, and wrote with this tiny chip on my shoulder for so many years, citing the idea that "no one really wants me to succeed, so let me go and show them". I know now that I am wrong, I have amazing friends who support me in this endeavor, but let me focus in on the criticism aspect. Sometimes, I was subject to criticism, especially for my voice, and at a certain age, I was laughed at a good amount for having a dream. So in terms of handling that, I did a terrible job of it-let me tell you what I did. I LISTENED. I got down on myself, I would kind of pretend that I wasn't serious about my dream, that this was a hobby. I figured if I just made it seem like I was sorry for promoting my work or posting too many videos on Instagram, that people would stop talking or I would at least have a viable defense to the criticism. That behavior stripped me of the individuality that I knew I worked to own, but my only concern was being liked. Not appreciated, or listened to, just liked. I think it should go without saying that what I did was unnecessary and detrimental, but I know that I am not the only artist who has been subject to these feelings. And I am not naive, there's always going to be people who will think maybe I should stop writing, or stop singing, maybe stop playing music altogether. But here's the difference now, I make music for me and show it to the people who I know can use it. That sounds cocky, but I'm not rephrasing. I have been writing things that I fall asleep singing at night and I can dwell on my own lyrics because they carry real sentimental value to me, they are no longer just marketing based. That's not to say I've never written honest songs, I have a handful from the past, but I finally found my place of peace musically, and that's the point of this weeks post. When you hear that awful thing someone said about your music, realize that the one's you're out to please are the people who will be affected the same way you were writing it. If someone reaches out to you with a good critique- "I really liked this, but maybe you can try (insert fantastic idea here)", then you owe it to them because they have actually digested your music the way you wrote it to be. Don't ever turn those people down. But if they put you down, try to take away from your creativity or freedom, you need to understand that your happiness should not be being held in their hands. You determine that, only you. Artists thrive on expression, it's the central principle and the reason to partake. I understand the obvious "Well how are you going to make a living" question, but I will promise it's not from writing songs you don't believe in. I know this post was more emotional than informative, but that's kind of what I want anyone reading this to understand- emotion is what draws people in. It's not the only way of communicating to an audience, but it is the most visceral thing we can offer as artists. If you want  to silence the critics, silence the demons in your mind, that's always going to be the real issue. If you write through those, jump off the edge of the cliff, there's a group of fans waiting to catch you.

Truthfully, I've never been more excited for the future. I have music that feels the right way, I have a direction for it, and I know I have amazing friends out there who will provide the best audience I could ever want. So I know this post really was all over the place, but thank you so much for reading, and I will see you all next week! 

-Jamie

Jamie's Blog Week 5

Hello everyone! I'm back, a little late, but I'm back nonetheless. I've been hearing from various people in my life saying they actually read these posts so I'm excited to dive into this weeks. So without further ado (minus the 3 days since I was supposed to post this)...

Week 5; "Finding Your 'Thing'"

When it comes right down to it, successful people know why they're successful. They know themselves down to all the finer points, strengths, weaknesses, people they work well with, people they need to avoid. And for everyone one of those people, they have a trait that makes them "Them". It's their hallmark, the thing everyone knows them for. They'll have plenty of other skills, but there's one that is top quality. And not so strangely, thats the one they'll advertise. Why? Because you gain notoriety for being a master in one thing, rather then a participant in many. That's not to say you shouldn't have plenty of tools that you bring to the table in any given situation. I can confidently say that I could play 3 instruments for anyone at any given time, record them, mix (not well, but I can), and I am an experienced writer that's eager and ready to collaborate. But when someone wants to know what I do, I am a Singer Songwriter, and then take that a step further, I'm a Pop Rock Singer Songwriter who is always going to entertain and attempt to create inspiring music. That's my calling card. It doesn't have anything to do with my perception of my own ability, fanbase, or anything else. I know who I am, what I am, and I am confident in my convictions. That's what most industry experts need to/want to know right off the bat. The thing that really separates professionals from amateurs is an X factor. Can you play 2 guitars at once? Do you pull out a puppet at your show and be a ventriloquist for 5 minutes? Great! Make it known to people. If you're an engineer, pride yourself in precision and timeliness, if you're a writer, make sure people know that you'll spend any amount of time that they'll need to write the best song. All that being said, have I found my X factor as a performer yet? Nope, and I'm in no rush. It comes with time (or so i'm told) and when it does, it will be authentic. Authenticity is vital to creating a real buzz. I am personally not the guy to deliver dramatic monologues at shows, or show up in costume, I won't have flames shooting out of my guitar, I know my demeanor and I want to be the same person on the stage that I am off the stage. However, if you're a dynamic individual, then be yourself, don't be shy to go off at any performance, you will develop a name for yourself based on how you deliver a show. Regardless of how you act on stage, trust me, you want the crowd to feel like they know you as they leave the room, and better yet, you want them to tell their friends about the experience, whether it was wild, subdued, intimate, violent, amazing, etc. you want to leave your mark as "that artist". Like I said, this comes with time. But when it's there, you have something priceless that is uniquely yours. So if I wanted to sum this week up; Be you, and be the best at being you. Nothing will make a louder statement than having an honest and believable image. That's what the "thing" is, you're you and everyone knows you for it. So I managed to only be slightly cheesy to this point but here comes the downpour you were most definitely expecting. Keep being amazing at what you do, it's going to show if you let it.

Thanks for reading!

-Jamie

Jamie's Blog Week 4

Hey everyone, another busy week but better to be busy when you're trying to make your way up in the world. Hope all my friends in school or at work can feel the same way. So let's get down to this week's topic;

"How To Handle Success"

I was reading over my past posts and I realized that in week 2, I talked about all types of failure and dealing with those feelings, but I totally forgot to mention the (much more fun) counterpart. What do you do when things go your way? Your band got the gig, they picked your song, you're playing the venue you always dreamed of! First of all, congrats! Success is never an accident, or luck, so don't write it off or take away from your achievements. You worked hard to get to where you are, appreciate it! However, the tricky thing with success is that it usually marks the ending of a period, rather than the beginning of a new one. Success is that "release" feeling where we take a load off, and revel in a bit of our glory (born from weeks, months, or years of frustration and perseverance), and I'm not here to say that it's not deserved, but remember- strike while the iron is hot. You're confident, keen, and on top of your game. You're entitled to your day or two of satisfaction, but these windows of opportunity are gratifying for a reason-they're only occasional. I could compare it to building a house of cards, it's a magical feeling when you've stacked up the second level, but the longer you wait to keep constructing it, the more likely that something will happen to set you back. Enjoy that analogy, it's probably one of the last one's i'll try to force in the blog. Anyways, so how do you build on the success? Same way you got there in the first place, only at a higher level (Now my analogy makes more sense). You'll contact bigger venues, strive to sell more music, get a record deal with an established label, etc. It's a slow process, but you'll be riding a strong wave if you coast off the successes you achieve (is that an analogy too? I hope not). I may not be the example of someone who has built their career, but I do know that I am much farther along in my development than I was a year ago. I didn't believe I could ever reach labels, or open for well known artists, it just wasn't something I could picture. But when I got small chances, opportunities, I turned them into bigger ones, and kept working at it. I think the secret is constantly being motivated by the feeling of success, without ever letting it consume you. I have always been afraid of coming off as conceited, so I tend not to broadcast every small step I take on the journey, but I do think about it as I spend hours searching for new places to gig or making new connections, and knowing the accomplishment that I will feel when something fits into it's place. If I can suggest a piece of advice for other artists in my place, it's that I firmly believe that the artists who exercise a healthy work ethic while staying happy are the ones who rise to the top. It's not easy by any means, but that's why we're allowed to be proud of our successes. We dedicate our lives to them, and they give us direction in our lives. Fair tradeoff to me. 

So unfortunately, I am going to have to head off to a voice lesson, but as always I hope this finds you all well and helps some of you, and if you want to tell me how you deal with success, I know I could learn something from you! Thanks!

-Jamie

Jamie's Blog Week 3

Hey there everyone! As always, welcome, and thank you for reading! I have to say I'm starting to enjoy this blogging experience. I was a bit skeptical from the start, worrying if anyone will read these, but what I'm finding is that even a few people connecting back to me makes it more than worth it. I hope that this weeks post serves you all well, and if it does, please reach out to me. I really do love hearing back from anyone! 

Week 3; "Should I Feel Bad About Self Promoting"?

While I am not entirely sure that I'm the right voice to tackle this, I know that this is a struggle for artists of all varieties and businesses alike. In my past blog posts, I have talked about the endless amounts of work that we will do to achieve the art that we have envisioned. Eventually, it gets finished, and sits in front of you on a kitchen table as a CD or on your computer screen accompanied by the iTunes toolbar and it's "Now What"? Well, this is the part where everyone has their own feelings, so I'll stop speaking universally and just speak to my own intuition. When I have invested hundreds of hours of my own time, I feel that promoting my work is not just necessary, but deserved. If I have created something that I believe is a quality album (EP, or any creation for that matter), I do believe that I would be doing myself a disservice by hiding it away upon completion and only telling people about it if they asked. The issue in my case is that even though I think of self promotion as necessary, I fear that I'm not getting my music out there, I'm just bothering friends who may have gotten a bit tired of my repetitive posts talking "Check this out, check that out", etc. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we tend to measure our likability based on our social media reach and the reactions of others. In my case, I have never had a large presence on social media. I've grown to understand how powerful it is, but I am by no means an expert. It does seem, however, that the more I use it, the more I wish there was a better way to reach people with an honest message.

I started to get off on a bit of a tangent (Better saved for another week), so let me refocus; I do not self promote because I think I am just "that good". I promote my work because I made it for other people. I promote my work because I do believe that some people out there will connect with my songs. I promote my work because I believe that the world always needs new music. I don't know if people see it that way, in fact I assume that for the most part they don't, because really it's not their job to constantly watch my every move. But the reality is part of being an artist is committing to expression and finding the eyes and ears of an audience who may or may not have a reaction to it. We need to stop feeling as if self promotion is taboo because it seems "conceited". The reality is everyone deserves to feel rewarded for achievements at least from time to time. The good news is that it is not hard to make someone feel valuable in the course of a day.  I know that it can change my day, my week, sometimes even my month getting a small compliment from someone who I didn't know even heard my music or was following my progress. It goes a long way, and I think you can do yourself a favor by being there for others, even just with a like on a post or a quick text. 

Thanks for reading everyone, I would say this post was a bit of a rollercoaster in terms of emotions for me, but I hope it finds you well and maybe offers some insight or some reassurance. I'm really hoping to hear other people's thoughts on this whether you're an artist or not, you definitely have valuable input into the conversation. Next post in 1 week!

-Jamie

Welcome To My Blog

So as of this past Sunday, I'm officially a young adult, and my teenage years are behind me. I've been trying to think to myself how I'm going to move forward and keep building on what I've been working at as a musician and as a person, and with the help of a close friend, came to realize I have things I'd like to speak about. I'm a very introverted person, which gives me excessive time to think about life and what i'm doing with it, and I'd like to work on my socializing skills and make that an open forum. I'll be writing in this blog once a week, hopefully until I'm too busy to do it every week, but I have a lot of topics I want to discuss, and I want my peers and people I haven't yet met to talk with me and we can all get stronger and smarter, as well as share a few laughs along the way. Thanks for tuning in, hope to hear from all of you!

Week 1; "Who Am I? And Who Are You?"

After 20 years, I thought I had a pretty strong sense of self identity, but the past summer has really opened my eyes. I got serious about my music and my career, and studied the music industry and how to be a successful DIY musician. I wore several new hats that I had never thought I could take care of myself as my own booking agent, publicist, and producer. I came out with a debut EP and I'm now promoting it (more to come on how self promotion is the most necessary evil in my life). Things have changed a lot for me as a musician and as a person. I'm now embarking on my second year of college at Berklee College Of Music, I've moved into a Boston apartment with a long time friend of mine, and now I'm blogging (that is definitely the biggest surprise to me). My approach to life has changed significantly, and now I don't question my independence, as a student or a musician. That being said, this was a long summer. I was lazy in the way that I didn't get a job, but to say I stayed busy would have been an understatement. I took "Free Time" and really put it to use by building the frame for a career in music and establishing connections as well as starting to put myself out there as a viable performer and writer. I want to share a small experience that I had with my EP because it totally changed my outlook on how to approach my craft. The EP from start to finish took 6 months. That shocked me. I spent about 3 months picking songs, revising and rewriting, making new demos, and then another 3 recording, working with the engineers on the mixes and masters, and then ultimately releasing it and creating CD's for it (they're available on this site if you're interested!). I've never been good at taking my time, I prefer to jump on things and get them done right away. That doesn't mean I never cared about quality, quite the contrary, but I never was willing to do 20 vocal takes for one line, or spend 10 straight hours comping takes for a song. It teaches you about patience, and also giving time to let the dust settle so you can really make sure you're doing your work justice. It was a valuable lesson to me, even though I could get frustrated at times by not getting what I wanted out of the work, I learned to let things take their course while I work. I'd recommend that same mindset to anyone tackling a project in their lives, or even day to day activities or tasks. I did not have a normal college summer, there was no beach trips, or baseball games (played a gig outside of a baseball stadium though), but I feel what I have accomplished and my growth has made up for that. It's interesting how sometimes the experiences that really stick with you are experiences that span months, and conclude over a period of days. So to the title of this first blog post; "Who am I?" I'm a hard working, driven musician who is starting to get his bearings on what he'll need to do to succeed in the industry and will always be trying to learn and grow from experience. Now the better question is "Who Are You"? What are your habits when you work? What motivates you to get the best work? I'm always trying to speak to the people who inspire others with their actions and I have a feeling that if you've read to this point, you've probably experienced similar feelings while working and I'd love to know about what you do! Thanks for reading, tune back in next week for a new blog post! Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter while you're here if you enjoy staying up to date with this, and as always, I appreciate the support!

-Jamie