By Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder www.wearemdiio.com)
ALWAYS have a grand plan! Step One: Reach a certain level of success by a random, self-imposed, and completely arbitrary date. Step Two: Crush those goals and move forward to newer, bigger, and loftier ones. Step Three: Repeat steps one and two. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Needless to say over the course of 20+ years as a songwriter and record producer, I can tell you that seldom did any of my grand plans ever come to fruition in the way that I had envisioned. What really moved the needle? Seemingly random happenstance blossoming into unanticipated rewards. More often than not, people, opportunities, and situations present themselves in a way that ostensibly gives you two options. Option One: Ignore the new opportunities, and/or relationships in favor of sticking to "the plan." Option Two: Follow this new and different path. I would bet dollars to donuts (hard to say which I prefer…dollars or donuts), that you are nowhere near the same person you were 20 years ago…let alone 2 years ago. Adopting, and adapting new ideas and strategies will ultimately lead you down unexplored paths, opening up a whole new world of possibility! Here are 5 ways to embrace ch ch ch ch changes as you chase the unknown, chart the uncertain, and choose to uncover the secrets to your perfect pivot.
Identify - Probably the most difficult part of not having a plan, is actually identifying the right decisions to make, and at which point to make those decisions. Looking back on my career, the most profound and pivotal moments for me pinged my radar in less than profound and pivotal ways. Quick story…I had gotten myself to London on a writing trip about 17 years ago, where I found myself working with a very cool (and new artist) by the name of Tyler James. Tyler eventually got signed by Island Records in the UK. He was managed by a young upstart manager named Nick Shymansky. Tyler’s roommate was also managed by the very same young manager. But his roommate was even more unknown than Tyler. Well…she fell in love with our song "Why Do I Do", as did their mutual manager Nick. The next thing I knew, I was back in the UK collaborating with her on her stuff. That was Amy Winehouse. Keep your eyes peeled for small opportunities. Almost always, It’s the small opportunities that can lead to the happiest of accidents. Assess - Assessing what’s working and what isn’t working is crucial to informing the decisions that you’re going to make. You might love writing and listening to pop music, but maybe you’re better as a country writer. When you look in the mirror, what are you doing that is working, and what is not working? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome. The same principle applies to Songwriting. Self-assessment will lead to self-realization. Self-realization leads to growth. Pivot - Pivoting is not quitting. It’s adjusting your mindset based on new information. Pivoting is being mature enough to realize that there is a better way to achieve your goals. Pivoting means identifying new passions and pursuing those with energy and vigor. When I started my career as a songwriter and record producer, I never in a million years thought that I would end up being the founder of a music tech company. Yet here I am, as passionate to help songwriters as I am in the music that I so fortunately get to create on a daily basis. Pivoting is good…don’t get stuck in the past. Improvise - Finding new and different ways to accomplish your goals really can spice up your process of creativity. Normally if you were to start producing a song with the drums, then add the music instrumentation and vocals, try mixing it up. Sometimes it’s really cool to start from a sample and work backward. If you normally write a song from the lyrics first, try writing it from the melodic standpoint or perhaps even musically. The uncertainty of changing up your process will undoubtedly lead you via new and interesting ways to an even better outcome. Follow through - Don’t panic and revert back to the old you. Once you go down that path there’s no point in turning back. Turning back is an acknowledgment that you have made a mistake. Nothing is a mistake. Only teachable moments. Learning and applying new information to your new direction will inevitably lead you in the right direction. Once you're in...go for it! The Coda: Changing up tried and true practices for new and uncertain ones can be scary and intimidating. You’ve already been there. You’ve already done that….Why go backwards? After all, when one door closes, there’s always an open window. See you next week, and keep writing those hits. Justin@mdiio.com