Lately, I’ve been intrigued with the subject of time. It’s not very often that I consider time itself and the part it plays in the business of music, but when you really think about it, time is perhaps the single most important factor in the musical journey. Hard work is a given and talent is a necessity, but I feel like I’ve missed the mark by failing to realize the part that time plays in not only how we get to where we are going, but whether or not we ever reach our desired destination. Time isn’t one-dimensional, either, and when we recognize the facets of time, new worlds open to us.
Ten thousand hours. We’ve all heard the theory and I assume many of us have heard the song. Ten thousand hours is said to be how much time it takes to perfect a craft. Many have said, “Time is money”, but I remember a wise friend of my father once telling me, “Wrong…Time is your life”. Sacrificing large portions of your life is truly what it is going to take to survive and succeed in this dream of “making it” in the music biz. Seeing time as an investment of currency will quickly make you treat your time like a much more valuable commodity than most do. We only get to breathe once. We only get one shot. How often do we flippantly toss the loose change of our life into the garbage by not giving our all, not realizing how much those small moments add up to a great amount of our life? There’s a difference between investment and gambling, and gambling with your time is gambling with your gift. Don’t waste it.
One aspect of investment that the majority of people don’t take into account is the fact that not every investment pays out a positive return. Investment is a risk…granted, a calculated risk, but a risk nonetheless. Don’t believe me?..Look at the housing market. Bottom line: you can be as good as you want to be and talented as hell, but if society isn’t ready for you, you’re screwed. Timing can make or break you. We all know someone with unbelievable gifting. Some of us may know someone with amazing talent and a solid work ethic. A few lucky ones may know someone with talent, work ethic, AND a great product…but if the timing isn’t there, nothing is. Guitar rock isn’t in right now…get used to it. This industry operates in cycles, just like anything else. If you wanted to sell a typewriter to a teenager five years ago, you could have made it indestructible, beautiful, and marketed it with millions and would have gone broke. Make one today that can be plugged into an iPhone, and BOOM…every bearded hipster on the block wants one. Timing is EVERYTHING. Socioeconomic climate, political leanings, civil distress, etc all play a part, and if you sing the right song at the right time…….BAM….Allen Stone, Macklemore, Psy, etc…
The paradigm has shifted in our industry. No longer do you have to be 25, blonde, busty and beautiful to be successful. Oh, it’ll help, but you won’t last on it anymore. There are gonna be plenty of one-and-done artists to go around because certain songs and artists will rise due to the timing factor…but do you think you’ll ever see Psy again? Now, it’s all about longevity for long-term success. Think about it this way: Sooner or later, most every artist around you is going to quit. What if you just never quit writing, playing, recording, filming, and releasing good content, even if you’re not the biggest act on the block? If ten artists exist and nine of them hang it up, who’s the biggest act in town? THE ONE THAT LASTS. Be committed to the long road…the hard road…the path that sucks…the path that will teach you how to be tough, a good businessperson, frugal, patient, consistent, and passionate.
I see success in music as a countdown to an eclipse. The most beautiful part about these facets of time is they can be separated into different pieces, but the clock only counts down when all of the gears of the clock are fitting together. There are moments when time meets destiny, but the hands of time have to line up. When you stick with it, your taste improves, your flavor comes out, your investment into your gift grows, your catalogue of work increases, your name spreads, you outlast your peers, and all of a sudden, the world is ready for you and time stands still for just a moment…and if you’re ready, the time can be yours.
Invest wisely, perfect your craft, understand the times, never stop creating, be committed for the long haul, be ready.