Not everybody who sets out to be an artist reaches their destination to turn their music dream into reality. It’s for a ton of reasons, some outside of your control, but most probably because of tolerance. Tolerance for sucking until you don’t suck anymore. It takes a lot of hours (some say 10,000) before the ugly duckling turns into a… rockstar. It’s going to challenge every fear you’ve ever had. And it’s going to take more than talent – try ingenuity and stroke of brilliance from the song gods. And it’s not even for those who are the most driven either – because drive is not all you need.
But most of all, because you will be the ugly duckling for a while ~ for a long while… until one day, you’re not. I’ve seen this change occur hundreds upon thousands of times over the past 3 decades of working with artists, and being one myself. It’s always such a transformation when it happens. In the story of the ugly duckling the homely little bird born in a barnyard suffers abuse from the others around him until, much to his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all.
The most precious and precarious moments in an artist’s life are before they ever release their music – in those hours, months, and years of development. This phase is precious because the artist is honing their craft, finding their stage legs, trying to not sound awful, writing songs (and hoping they don’t suck), and trying to discover who they are. It’s also precarious because it’s not proven yet, most of all to them. The single hardest thing about being an artist is being able to withstand the period of time when you sound nothing like you hope, long enough to start liking what you’re hearing back. Basically, it takes that long to get good – for everyone. Alicia Keys and John Mayer were known to study and practice 6-8 hours a day in their developing years as musicians.
Because it’s never perfect starting out. You could naturally have a good songwriting talent but your voice sucks. Or you have a good voice, but you sound like everyone else and have trouble sounding unique. Or you love to perform and love the stage or recording, but your voice craps out on you so you’re afraid to pursue a career. You end up frequenting the voice doc’s office looking for a cure. The result of all this usually falls under one of three categories:
- Panic. You go into super drive and practice every single day out of sheer panic (even though your cats howl every time you sing). But slowly (oh so slowly) you do actually get better.
- Compensation. You compensate for your lack of uniqueness with your creative quirkiness or humor. Like wearing Lady Gaga-like outfits and hiring dancers to entertain your audience, or playing the kazoo (and it kind of works even though you’re only at a local club and some people think you’re weird).
- Avoidance. You do nothing but white-knuckle it through your performances or streaming events, hoping one day you’ll get better (or you’ll find that magic elixir that Jason Mraz and Beyonce drink) and then you will tour the world. For now, you stick to local gigs.
So it’s true that this period of development exists for every artist, but it doesn’t have to be excruciating when you have some tools and know-how at your fingertips. Wouldn’t it be freakin’ nice to know exactly what exercises to do so your voice doesn’t crap out on you? (I mean really!) Or to know exactly what your sound and style is and how to put your music together in a way that brings out your unique strengths and attractive quirks? Why reinvent the wheel when there is a path and system to it? A system that understands all of your weird artist insecurities, meets you where you are, addresses the pitfalls, helps you build confidence, savvy, and know-how? And comes with a 52 Week Artist Development Plan? Well, there is. And for those of you that want to know more…
Join my FREE 6 Week Online Artist Development Program: Step Up to the Spotlight. for more great tips, solutions, and free guidance. This program has helped over 13,400 artists amplify their impact and skyrocket their careers. I want you to be next.