By Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder MDIIO)
As the world speeds up, so does our need for faster bigger more instant gratification. For any creative, that amplifies and magnifies exponentially every time we write a song, release music or drop new content… Whatever that may be. What is so important to note is that seldom does that quick hit last. The dopamine triggered in our brains disappears as fast as it shows up, and almost always leaves us lower than we were before the experience.
Patience is perhaps one of the most underrated character traits that any of us can have. Without patience, we accept a lack of immediate ROI as failure. What that means is that because we don’t see that return on our investment happening at a lightning pace, we automatically assume that it wasn’t successful. Too many times in my career I’ve been a part of writing a song and every collaborator in the room looks at each other and we say something to the effect of "THIS IS A HIT!" Or, maybe it’s "IF SO AND SO ARTIST DOESN’T CUT THIS THEY’RE CRAZY!!" Or maybe you’re guilty of… "IF THIS ISN’T A HIT THEN I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS!" Guess what? Almost never do our predictions come true.
I’ve told a story on webinars, but I’ll try and reiterate it here in a much more condensed form. There was a song that I wrote with a collaborator of mine named Jenson Vaughan. He came to my studio one day, and we wrote a song specifically intended for a major artist on a major label for a major film. Proud of the work that we did, we sent it into the label and almost immediately got rejected.
That song sat on my hard drive for two years, until I resubmitted it to my publisher for the fourth time (the first three times they ignored my emails). They finally listened. It took a whole other year before we got our first sync placement on that song. Three years! We’ve since done more than two dozen licenses for that song, and quite frankly earned a small fortune collectively. But if I had zoomed in the lens at the time when we initially were rejected, I would’ve seen it as a failure.
Here are five perspectives to help shake up your Chakras, motivate your mindfulness, and water your zen garden…
Patience - Let’s take it out of context of songwriting and creativity for a moment. Imagine planting seeds in anticipation of growing a single tomato. We all know that with water, sunlight and fertilizer, that tomato will grow in time. No amount of sitting and staring at the dirt is going to make that tomato grow any faster. Sure, external forces might speed up the process. Maybe there’s a little more rain, or a little more sun, or a little more something. But generally speaking a tomato will grow at its own pace and it’s on time. That’s like you as a songwriter, and your songs are the seeds. Putting yourself in a position and being patient enough to wait for your seeds to blossom is only going to benefit your career. Too many times I’ve seen new writers with early success eventually falter because they didn’t have the good principles in which to base a successful career path. Be the tomato.
Discipline - We know to grow a tomato we need to be consistent in terms of giving it the environment in which to eventually manifest itself. If we don’t water it, it will die. If we don’t expose it to sunlight, it will die. If we decide to plant our seeds in the sand, it will never happen. Discipline is all of these things. It’s knowing what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Rinse, repeat. Slice. Eat.
Focus - The tomato does not concern itself with other vegetables growing in the garden. It’s only concerned about itself and its manifest destiny to become plump, juicy and red. It also doesn’t judge itself against a radish, or the green beans, or God forbid a cucumber. Every vegetable in the garden is on its own journey. Every songwriter is on their own journey. Just because the cucumber may grow faster than the tomato, doesn’t mean that a cucumber is more important than the tomato. I’ve known songwriters who have discovered wild amounts of success in their 50s. If it’s meant to happen it’s going to happen, but it will most certainly not happen if it is not exposed to the right environmental conditions. Stay focused!
Execution - You know what you’re supposed to do. Don’t pretend that you don’t. Acknowledge the time and the work it’s going to take to be the tomato. When put in the position to start manifesting your success, you can’t just stop. If you stop watering your tomato plant, your tomato plant will stop growing. The reference to growing this tomato is actually quite simple. There’s a tried-and-true method to successfully growing a tomato. There’s a tried-and-true method to successfully growing your songwriting career. Do those things over and over and over again, and you’ll start to see your evolution and development. First it’s a root, then it’s a stem, then it’s a leaf, then it’s a bud that eventually reveals a little green bulb which grows into a bright red fruit. This is exactly the same as the way that your songwriting career should develop. Staying focused and executing will make you a better songwriter at the same time as expanding your circle of influence and your relationships and your collaborators.
Leverage - Enjoying the fresh fruit of your labor is something everybody should get to experience. Not only experience it, but relish it. Enjoy that tomato. Because of your direct efforts that tomato came to be and now it’s yours. But you know what’s better than one tomato? Two tomatoes. Four tomatoes. A whole garden of tomatoes. So just because you one time grew a tomato successfully doesn’t mean you should stop. Now that you know how to grow a tomato, you can make sauces, salads, and even delicious drinks. The point is success as a songwriter can open up so many other doors that maybe we’re not presented to you before that success. How do you take those things and leverage them into more opportunities and more success? The most successful people that I know have learned how to diversify their talents into other opportunities in order to generate more opportunities.
The coda: Despite now being hungry for a delicious and refreshing salad, it’s fair to say that without patience, no reasonable success can happen. Patience is that internal compass that keeps you grounded as your seeds are growing in anticipation of a garden full of delicious veggies. Being disciplined, consistent and patient are going to have a high impact and long-lasting effect on your career and the manifestation of your tomato.
See you next week and keep writing those hits! Justin@mdiio.com