I bet everyone wishes they had parents like Ocean Colour Scene who, legend had it, mortgaged their own house to help their son’s musical career. (bad joke alert: that was The Day We Caught The Train)
Instead many people have grown up with being told the kind of dreams we have as kids are unrealistic and to not give up the day job.
That is why finding a creative ally puts you at a massive advantage. Your family will be happy when you make it.
Not this person, below, though.
It is advisable to recognise unmanaged egos as these people are not good at giving feedback or taking criticism themselves (I’ve had to learn how, we all do I think).
An unsupportive person (with an inflated ego) will:
- Make you feel bad about producing any work.
- They don’t provide constructive feedback, saying what they like most or least about your work.
- They act like they know best and don’t want to discuss it.
- They judge how much potential you have on the work you are playing them, without letting you identify ways in which you can progress.
The characteristics above can be displayed by parents, siblings, friends, teachers or music business professionals. It is helpful to spot them as these responses to creative work can be a form of role power bullying and make you more wary about asking people for feedback or showing your work (puffing up your ego).
It happens to everyone and I’ve written this from personal experience from both sides: dealing with my own and others’ egos. Finding the right people to give you constructive feedback on your music can be the fuel to your rocket.
People speak so much gibberish about born talent. Just read Outliers by good ol’ Malcolm Gladwell to see that old chestnut about it taking 10,000 hours to be good at something. After all, you don’t need to necessarily be good to make it in music, but being good at something makes it the most satisfying.
But being honest with yourself, congratulating yourself when you do well, and rethinking when something doesn’t work (best learning curve) and making good choices is the dog’s bollocks.
Coming from personal experience and garnering from other people when my ego has got in my way, here’s my guide to knowing when you’re being stopped by your ego.
(Firstly, remember you’re a human being and your ego is a natural part of you).
Your creativity ego is under control if:
* You take in feedback, response and criticism and consider it before you discard it.
* You share your creativity with others and hear their views.
* You appreciate people being honest with you and want to know what they think.
* You are not embarrassed by failure.
* You put expressing yourself way before everything being good (perfection).
* You can recognise the self-expression in other people’s work.
If you relate to those points above, you may happily walk away now, looking forward a good chance of success.
Of course, it’s just as bad to go the other way and end up totally confused by listening to everyone without considering what they’ve said. This can be an ego-puffer.
Have you experienced any of these traits? (To manage these gives you a good advantage in music, as so many people seem to confuse these with confidence and pride in their own abilities).
- They are precious about their work.
- They do not produce very much.
- What they do produce does not do them justice.
- It is difficult to get them to let you hear their work.
- They argue when you give them feedback.
- They act as if they know better than everyone else.
- They reject criticism and feedback out of hand.
- They don’t have a realistic gauge of how good they are.
What is an ego? The word is bandied about so often and misused so much that clarification could remove the confusion from any emerging artists who think all rock stars have big egos.
Why is this important?
The ego, when identified in this way, can be pinpointed as an unseen force field that is between you and your audience.
This blog can also help you recognise an unhealthy ego in other people, because these are not the right people to get feedback from about your work.
Ego is not a friend to creative progress. In fact, it is a pretend friend. It has probably felled some already-successful musicians who started out with their creativity at the controls, until the bloating effect of ego-puffers had their wicked way.
I reckon, self-respecting artists want to keep pushing forward. Imagine shouldering a large flat machine in a gym and getting stronger until suddenly the peg is pulled and there are no weights to push against. This, for a person wanting to get fit, would not be a welcome set of affairs.
It doesn’t matter how talented you are. This still applies and has probably cheated the world of some fantastic talent. Enough is enough.
Is your ego getting in the way of your career?
More to follow. Meanwhile, here is what Psychology Today says.
There was a time when studio producers played the part of frontline A&R, spotting new songs with potential and putting their money where their mouth was by making the most definitive possible orchestration and production of that song.
Most people are funny about money and a lack of willing to invest simply shows a lack of care in your career. What you might not imagine is that the same goes for other people who can make money out of you. If someone doesn’t want to invest in you, it may be because you don’t appeal to them or they are the wrong person. The only way to find out is to talk to people, take their feedback, be honest with yourself and to keep following your instincts and believing in yourself.
Few people can see a hit song in its inception, however those people that can and are in a position to take action will be the music moguls of tomorrow.
If you know what to ask of people who can help and work out what to expect from them, artist services that distribute your music, plug you to radio, get you in the press and organise any needed production, mixing, use of good contacts or feedback are worth investing in.
Many people can write, play and perform good music, but the key might be in whether or not you make the right choices. There’s only way to find out. Go for it with your ears and eyes wide open.
While live promoters begun to recognise which attitudes held by musicians would be most likely to help them succeed, artists had a tendency to act as if they were at the mercy of the paymaster, without seemingly observing which traits would make a good paymaster, rather than an exploitative one.
Various new music industry types started appearing as the development departments of record companies started to wane. So-called ‘managers’ such as Ian Gold’s Red Zone Music sprung up in 1995 and invited bands to be managed by his company before springing upfront fee on them.
There was no quality control involved in the selection of acts. They were targeted for their willingness to believe they had representation. These two factors cancelled each other out.
The music industry does still represent quality control, although choices they make could be based on out-moded, incorrect or superficial criteria. Think of all the artists who have kept going in the face of failure and rejection to become successful. Pulp spring to mind. The Arctic Monkeys found their own root in via the Internet. Failure is only a temporary state and those who get stopped by it deserve just such a fate.
It is not imperative that musicians are also good promoters and business people. However, part of your team must be at least able to see things from the point of view of the people you want to get on board to forward your musical career.
Of course, a career plan was always present in those bands that went on to be successful. This included an individual outside the music act who was able to direct actions towards a representational recording, give feedback, organise publicity and promotion and improvement. Acts with a future made due preparation and industry contacts for the big push. Live music is rooted in socialisation, which means it is totally at odds with complete inward inflection.
Think of all your favourite songs and see if you can name one that only refers to someone’s inner world, without reflection on the reactions from outside the self. Like good film scripts, perhaps successful songs reveal something new or at least interesting about the human condition. In club and dance music genres, song content would be beat, pace and sound oriented and would even moreso not suit an introspective message.
The spectrum across attitudes found in promoters reflects the same contrast as that of musicians, from those who wanted to make money from any standard of musician, to those who wanted to promote new talent at their own risk to become recognised for spotting tomorrow’s big stars.
The A & R (artist and requisition) scrum were out in force up to the end of the last millennium, when the effects of the internet were first being felt by the old model of music industry.
Some great live music nights existed to provide a stage for promising new bands of all genres such as the Doctor Marten’s night on a Monday at the Garage on Highbury Corner, London. Entry was £1 and artists such as the band Posh were signed to an independent label, sent to a studio, put on tour, rebranded and booked for festivals such as Leeds and Reading.
Here is an article on the live music scene in 1997, for your delectation.
Just to get the ball rolling, I suggest having a quick peek here: Hip Hop Makers for a good list of production blogs and websites.
This is just while I set up this thing with info about studios, producers, musicians, live venues, recording equipment, etc. All the stuff about getting your music ready for the off.
Info about ways to become your best, discussions on busking etc. You know the story about the Beatles going to Hamburg? OK read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell so i don’t have to explain it again.
Notice: no mention of xfactor. Whoops.
The blog will focus on all types of live, instrumented, or post songwriting music.