For years I’ve been asked by artists and aspiring entrepreneurs about an easy way to succeed in the industry. Typically the question is unwittingly disguised as various queries, including: What’s the best way to get noticed? How do we sell more music? How do we get a manager? How do we get a deal? What’s the best way to get coverage? How do we get radio play? What’s the secret to getting more gigs? Et cetera… Many don’t realize this, but in essence, they’re asking, “What’s the easy way to succeed?
For the better part of a decade and a half, I’ve answered each of these questions, and countless others. Literally, I can respond to such questions for hours. However, I’ve found that many times, the advice given isn’t quite the magical answer that most are seeking. Unfortunately, none of my answers provide an “easy way.” I’m not sure who said it first, or else I would credit that person, but I’ve been saying it for years, “nothing worth doing is easy.” At the end of the day, with few exceptions that usually involve either sheer luck or nepotism, success and longevity comes through hard work and perseverance.
The road to success is paved with roadblocks, bumps, hazardous debris, potholes, and in some cases gaping cavernous holes. All of these are metaphors for all of the perilous circumstances that can arise to put a dent in or possibly a full stop to realizing your goals. However, if your actions are fueled by passion, it’s easier to get back on your track to success. Passion is truly what makes whatever destination you are seeking to reach possible- regardless of the hardships along the way. Passion mandates that you get back up and keep moving. Without it, you won’t continue. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with giving up. Your reactions to difficulties along the way can prove to be a gauge in regards to how strong your passion is. Seth Godin touched on when it’s acceptable to quit in his book called The Dip.
A couple of years ago, Malcolm Gladwell revealed the “10,000 hours” concept in his book Outliers: The Story of Success . A basic interpretation of this, one of the book’s takeaway ideas, is a quantified version of the old adage- “practice makes perfect.” Of course, if you did something right the first time, there would be no need to continue to hone in on your skills. Sometimes, things happen that prohibit you from succeeding at whatever it is that you do. Sometimes these hardships are foreseeable, and other times not. Furthermore, another blockade is nothing happening; or, maybe not happening quickly enough, which can be equally as disheartening- a more obvious hardship. Many times, the process of “making it” can seem laborious and tedious. The stronger your passion, the easier it is to get through the mundane aspects of your journey. For example, stepping on stage and receiving adoration from your supporters- regardless of their number- is exhilarating. However, in the scope of a tour, that’s just a brief slice of time. Depending on the circumstances and people involved, most of the bulk of that time is spent either traveling on a bus, sitting in an airport, waiting either in a hotel room or in a venue before a performance. For most, that time is anything but thrilling. I’ve known artists that have gone on festival tours- traveling from city to city in cramped vans with no guarantee of payment. The ones that I’ve seen succeed, are those that don’t stop. I don’t mean just getting through the tour. I’m speaking of going on tour, after tour, after tour. Regardless of the accommodations or lack thereof, they continue.
When it comes to success, of course talent plays a significant role as well, ironically, it’s by no means a definitive one. Effort is possibly as important. Effort and passion are in many ways proportionate to one another. In most cases, it takes a whole bunch of effort to accomplish goals. And, of course, the effort is easier to expend when you have passion for what it is that you’re doing. I recently watched the film The Runaways, a biopic about the band that delivered Joan Jett and Lita Ford to the rock spotlight. In essence, in a short while the band’s lead singer, Cherie Currie, burns out and drops out of the band because of a variety of stresses. On the other hand, Jett’s passion is apparent. She takes on obstacles with a vengeance. I had the pleasure of seeing Jett perform about a year ago, and it was clearly apparent by her dynamic performance that she loves what she does. She exudes rock n’ roll.
The band Anvil, which I’ve written about and interviewed in the recent past, should be poster children for passion. It took 30 years for them to realize many people’s idea of success- wider recognition. However, they’ve been doing what they’ve loved doing for all of those years. Sure, there was pain along the way, but something about rocking out for fans, regardless of whether it’s at a divey bar or a stadium, is rewarding, albeit on different levels. The same can be seen with Ahoora, their passion for their art has helped them continue their quest to play, regardless of restrictions.
In an interview with platinum-selling rapper BG, in response to my question about the biggest lesson that he’s learned from his experiences within the music industry, he responded, “you get out what you put in.” It’s so much easier to continue to put in time, regardless of circumstances, when you are passionate about what you do. Passion is how you respond to hardships, halts, hiccups, and hazards- all likely occurrences encountered at some point, on most roads to success. When these arise, you decide if it’s worth your time and effort to continue on that particular path. Passion is powerful. It will fuel you through your journey, including the difficulties, much more easily than any other motivator. -I. Vasquetelle