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The Brutal Truth (you need to hear)

By Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder www.mdiio.com)


The most extremely, remarkably, talented songwriters, artists, producers, and creators almost never make it.

Talent is a teeny tiny part of the formula for success.


And if your business model is based on talent…you’re screwed.


Don’t misunderstand me…You can’t be untalented…but your willingness to always fail, learn, push, and grow will drive you forward.


I can’t tell you how many young songwriters and producers I come across that immediately dismiss my opinion because (in many cases) I'm older than their own dads.

It’s not age… It’s wisdom. Over the years, you will begin to see every iteration of every problem imaginable when it comes to the music industry. Sure the business evolves, but the problems will always remain the same. You just learn how to solve problems faster.

When you let your ego make decisions in spite of what your intellect is saying, you will fail. It’s what you do with that failure that positions you up for the next phase of YOU version 2.0.


We’re about to spill the tea on 5 ways to turn failure into fortune, losses into lessons, and wins into a long-term career.



Ego is your enemy - I don’t care who you are… Park your ego at the door when you walk into any creative situation. Make assumptions that you are the least talented, and most motivated person in the room. Applying these two principles will help you navigate through any situation. Insecurity is often presented as having a huge ego. Quiet confidence will never let you down.


Feedback is your friend - Please, please, please…be open-minded and accepting of feedback. You may not always like what people have to say, but in almost every situation, that feedback is meant to improve your product, not to discredit your own self-belief. A lot of young creators make the mistake of writing songs without considering the proclivities and habits of everyday music lovers and consumers. In my experience, people that are not receptive to feedback are usually self-conscious about the fact that what they are hearing is in actuality what they already feel. Use feedback as a validator.


Hope is your fire - Hope and ambition are the key fire starters for any career. If you don’t believe you can do it, I unequivocally guarantee you that you will not! If you can maintain your hope through the adversity of negative feedback, or your career not going as fast as you would like, you’ll begin to understand if this is something that you actually really want to do. The minute that you lose hope, your fire will cease to burn.


Drive is your motivator - What is hope and ambition without the unrelenting drive it takes to succeed? The answer is hope is hopeless without that motivation to drive towards it. What are the sacrifices that you were willing to make, to make your hope happen? In the past, we’ve discussed the idea of comparing your today versus where you were 12 months ago. Are you further along than you were then? If so… Keep going. If not, why?


Success is your reward - People that expect “success“ are doomed to never reach it. What does that mean? It means that those who feel that the inevitability of their success is a foregone conclusion, will never hit it! Redefine success as you go. Success today is not necessarily success next week. Look at it this way… If my goal (which it always is) is to lose 30 pounds, and that doesn’t happen immediately, does that mean I failed? Can’t it be argued that success for me would be to just have a day where I don’t consume all of the carbs on the West Coast? Always consider short, medium, and long-term goals as you begin to define your success. And each of those KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) should have a reward unto themselves.


The Coda: Everybody has failed. Michael Jordan has failed. Da Vinci failed. Beethoven, Bach…and even Kanye failed. The greatest minds of the greatest people who have made the most fundamental impact on our everyday lives have all failed. You’re not special! But where they failed to fail was in using their failures to set them up for their success. Embrace your failures and remember them. It’ll make an awesome Grammy speech one day!


See you next week, and keep writing them hits!