Why Your Talent is Holding You Back
Ahh… what a blessing it is to be naturally gifted. Feels special doesn’t it? Things come naturally…you learn faster than most. It comes easy to you. Sound familiar? Then all of a sudden a new thing comes, a thing you’re not comfortable with, and you are enraged. You quickly throw your hands up in the air huffing and puffing that you JUST CANNOT figure this out. You even tried for a whole 5 minutes.
“If I didn’t get this right away, I must not be meant to do this!!” THAT is the curse of natural talent. Natural talent has spoiled you.
Here’s the thing….It is not the most gifted or talented that will win. It is the person who works the hardest. The last on the treadmill.
I hear so many artists complaining that less talented artists are getting further than them as if talent is the only ingredient it takes to be successful in this business. This is not true of any business, and music is no exception.
I was lucky enough to be born with music in me. I could harmonize before I knew what harmony was. My great grandma loves to tell me the story of hearing a wind chime going off in the breeze and little 4 year old me looking at her saying “that’s a C”. I took to the piano and guitar like a fish to water.
But can I be honest? I had NO freaking idea how to write or produce a song. Now, while I did grow up in a musical household, it was more about learning (and emulating) the greats. Jazz standards, Mozart, Bach, etc. But songwriting wasn’t something we did.
So as I entered my early 20’s I found myself learning a lot of covers, and even joining a couple cover bands.
It wasn’t that I wanted to be a cover artist, I just had this idea that because songwriting didn’t come ‘naturally’ to me, that I must not be a good songwriter.
And then when I would get little bursts of inspiration, I would try to write them and of course they would come out amateur sounding, not cohesive, and that would just solidify my belief. “See, you’re just not a good songwriter!"
(BTW-I’m sure some songwriters ARE born that way. Perhaps Bob Dylan came out of the womb with a pen and guitar in hand…ouch.)
Eventually, after learning hundreds of cover songs and doing everything from fronting a Led Zeppelin tribute band to joining a top 40 cover band in Asia, I knew I had music of my own in me I HAD to get out.
Not knowing where to start, I meditated, I prayed, and eventually a couple books landed in my lap.
“The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield, and “Writing Better Letter Lyrics” by Pat Pattison. Holy F Balls. You mean, I can show up, put in the work, and GROW my craft at being a writer? I don’t have to be BORN WITH IT?! I also didn’t realize that the amateur writing waits for inspiration and the pro writer HUNTS it down. My mind was blown.
I spent the next several years studying the craft and writing my heart out.
Now, I write and produce about 20 songs a month, and I get paid upfront money to do it. Whether I’m composing for a corporate client, writing for a commercial, or ad spot, or toplining to a track from a DJ in Europe.
A lot of people have been asking me for tips on how to go full time with their music.
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but if I could give one nugget here it is:
You have to treat it like a job before it becomes your job.
Stop waiting for inspirado to strike and hunt that mutha down. Do the work. LIKE A BOSS.