An elaboration of my first article: My Indie Life: 5 Observations as an Independent Artist
I remember the first song I had ever released to the public. I also remember wishing I hadn’t. It’s funny how for one moment the art we create makes us feel immortal and imperative, yet hollow without the recognition of an outsider. What’s less funny is when that recognition is rather utter dislike and mere criticism. What makes us so vulnerable to that two letter word? How is it that an expression so minimal in size can have such a monstrous effect on our self esteem and perception of our own work (which just a moment ago had us feeling so proud)?
I started off creating music with virtually no training or prior experience. Actually, the first few songs I recorded were done so through a webcam headset (very nice audio quality, by the way). When I decided to post some of them on the internet for feedback I was shocked at the response. It was not good. In fact, I remember his name (the first person to tell me no), John. I won’t repeat what he said, but after almost three years, that Myspace message is encoded in my memory. The real question is this: where would I be if I had given in to John’s response? If I believed his statement that “no, I couldn’t make music”, what would I be doing now? The fact is, “no” is almost inevitable. You cannot crumble the first time you hear it. Instead use it as fuel to prove them wrong. Don’t let your John win.
IT’S OK TO BE DIFFERENT
As human beings, we are naturally opposed to things that are new and that do not follow the normal flow of things. Many times, people will oppose your art or your music just because it’s not “normal”. My advice is simple, let them think that way. If all artists decided to be the same, there would be no diversity or uniqueness. Embrace the fact that what you do is different; it’s those qualities that make you indie. If you have passion for what you do, then there is a space for you in the world of art, and chances are there is someone looking for exactly what you are producing.
EMOTIONAL “NO” vs. CONSTRUCTIVE “NO”
Whether you believe it or not, there will be opposition to your creations at some point in your journey. What’s important is that you identify how to use the criticism. You have to distinguish the emotion “no” from the constructive “no”. Some people will simply not like your music because it doesn’t appeal to them personally. In the same way that you have tastes, so does your listener and it is important not to get discouraged at this.
At the same time, you have to be open to growth and advice. In my case, I had no musical training so while I was taken back at the criticism, I also used it as a way to grow my craft and to find out what people liked and disliked. There are a lot of people that have experience you may not have starting out and using that is crucial to your growth as an artist.
I have self produced 3 albums and have written a countless number of songs. I have won talent shows and have performed for a large diversity of people. None of that would have been possible without people like John, who helped drive my ambition. I have learned to not only accept that people will tell me no, but more importantly, I have learn how to grow from it. Each response, whether good or bad, is a stepping stone that can only move you forward. After all, no is only a two letter word.
My Indie Life PART 2 coming soon…
Tyler Turk is the Co-founder of NorCal Indie Productions, a business dedicated to exposing the independent, artistic talent in the Sacramento area. Turk is also an entertainer himself, working on his fourth self-produced rap album.