Rock music for geeks.

Building the artist’s life: Nay to the Naysayers

When someone provides a bit of insight about themselves for you there are several different ways to approach your response. It usually depends on what it is they’re sharing.
For instance, “I’m a business entrepreneur.” Ok… so… what does that mean? There’s a lot to unpack there.

You could respond with, “cool….. anyway” and change the subject uncomfortably…. or perhaps, “oh, interesting” and pretend you’re interested (you aren’t). Even more common of a response is to say anything supportive but on the inside to believe they will fail.

Notice I said more common. It’s the most frequent response. It’s like when someone says they play guitar. “OK, sure, good luck, kid.” It’s the expected reaction. As a professional musician I expect people to respond to my career as if I’m currently struggling, regardless to being skilled or not. In fact it’s expected that I suck. That’s fine. I have that same mindset towards other artists in general. Most artists DO suck to an extent. Probably more accurate to say most musicians are mediocre. If you’re skilled you’re agreeing with me.

Obviously not in a “stop painting and pick up a job” kind of way. more like “you need to keep practicing” kind of way. more supportive. More constructive.

If you aren’t very good you might have the “all art is beautiful” mindset. No. it isn’t. Most art needs refinement. I consider all crafts to require a sense of artistic skill. I think of roofing, or building a house. Not all houses are equally beautiful. much less… houses that are built by someone with no experience or discipline in the field… no way, dude. If I’m gonna buy a house i want it built to code. I want the rain to stay out of my house. I don’t want a draft… and i want my art to be deliberate and full of discipline. I’m not talking about complex art. simple is good, sometimes. but I want my art to have purpose. not “just cause”.

With all that in mind, I would never want anyone to STOP making art. Please, keep going… but also strive to improve. practice. Develop your skill. get better and better. push yourself. Never let your next painting be worse than your last. Write a song that makes your album from last year sound like a joke. Update your portfolio. Develop or change your style.

Be an artist.

I have a quick personal story.
I once shared a song i was really proud of with an old acquaintance (who shall remain anonymous. let’s call them… Ed; Easy name to type. Say hi, Ed! You know who you are.) Ed informed me that he “skimmed” through the EP (3 songs. I told Ed to listen to one track).

Skimming through a song, much less an EP… is akin to glancing at a painting, IMO. Ed followed that up by saying, “If the composition isn’t truly amazing or compelling and/or if it isn’t recorded absolutely perfectly then it isn’t worth my time.”

Ouch. btw. this is the song. judge for yourself. do you agree with Ed? it’s ok if you do.)


Now… I’m not an angry, argumentative person. In fact I consider myself to by quite patient and tolerant. (Tolerant: showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior with which one does not necessarily agree. For some reason i feel this word is misused. The important part is that you disagree, but you remain kind.) (source: oxford dictionary)

If you don’t listen to the whole song, in fact if you just skim the sections… can you really say you can give an accurate criticism? Can you say you really hate a movie if you came in 45 minutes late, and took several smoke breaks? My qualm with Ed’s comment is that he openly admitted to not having listened to the whole song and then said that the recording wasn’t perfect (OK, yeah. but define that) and that the composition itself wasn’t compelling (OK, yeah… but… DEFINE THAT). Oddly enough I enjoyed the movie Real Steel starring Hugh Jackman. Is it a good movie? haha!! no… but I’m a sucker for underdog films so there you have it.

Ed then followed that up with “I’m really busy and I don’t have time for a 7 minute song.” Personal rule: if you have time to post and comment on social media you have time to listen to a song. In fact… you have time for whatever you really WANT to do. I’m not even scolding Ed with this comment, this is for everyone. You have time to do anything… you just prioritize what you want. argue all you want. provide some specific piece of anecdotal evidence… but most of the time… it’s a matter of organizing your priorities. I might have a blog post on this subject some other day cause I am passionate about this.

I digress.
Now for the “meat ‘n’ patatas” of the post.

There will ALWAYS be people, family, friends… that don’t support you. Even if you really are skilled. Even if what you’re doing is groundbreaking. People in general need to be convinced that you are worth their time. And listen to everything the naysayers are saying. You might disagree with it… but consider the possibility of truth before you consider the source of the criticism.

Not saying that you suck, but if there were a chip in your armor… you would want to fix it. Correct it. Improve it. Nobody is perfect. Use the naysayers as a source of brutal honesty. “you’ll never make it”. There’s truh to that… UNLESS you work twice as hard. “you still won’t make it.”…. work 5 times as hard. Not that you need to appease everyone… but there might be some truth behind what they are saying. Not 100% truth. but maybe 3%? 7%? 21%? Are you comfortable with any percentage of truth coming from the mouths of naysayers? Refine your craft and say NAY to the Naysayers. “NAY” you say… as you get better and better and you objectively rise above them all. If you strive to improve… you will. It’s a matter of fact.

*Que the Pokemon theme song*


P.S. Ed did end up apologizing a couple days after. I asked for him to provide what he considered to be a perfect recording or a truly compelling composition. He responded with “My comment may have sounded like I was being a dick. sorry.”
Clarification to Ed if he sees this. No. You are a dick. no hard feelings though. Do your thing. I’ll pretend to be friendly as usual. I will tolerate your occasional presence.

I like the second definition better. It’s more poetic in this context.

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