After thousands of conversations with artists, musicians, and singers, I’ve come to realize that the greatest enemy we all face as we pursue this career path in music is fear. Duh, you say. Yes, we all know this. Every self-help book or psychoanalyzing article will boast about how overcoming our fears will free us to become all we can become. There is the fear of failure. I get this one. Sometimes it’s easier to not try at all than to try and fall flat on our noses. There must be millions of memes floating about the internet about how many times so and so failed before becoming a mogul of some sort. We must like those memes because we all feel crippled by this fear of failure.
Then there is the fear of success. What? I do not get this one. But, to some, it is really the fear of a different type of lifestyle, or perhaps the fear of new opportunities (which equates to new opportunities to fail), or just the fear of new expectations placed on you because of your success.
But just recently I pinpointed the most dangerous fear…the worst kind of fear that is inside our musical minds but disguises itself as other things. It is the fear of what others think about us.
Here are some example phrases that I hear:
“I don’t want people to think I’m like…oh, watch me. I’m so amazing.”
“No, that’s dumb. I’ve never seen another singer do that.”
“I don’t really care what people think….(while saying, practically in the same breath,) I don’t want to be like that girl that acts like she’s better than everyone else”
“I don’t want people to think….”
“I don’t want to be like….”
“I don’t want to sound like…”
Get the picture?
What is it about music that makes it the universal language? Why does it impact humankind the way that it undeniably does? What do the timeless songs and iconic artists we love have in common? Music needs to come from a place of honesty, vulnerability, and love. I don’t care what your genre, your style, your message. If you are not coming from the heart, then no one will connect with you. Except maybe your mom.
Therefore, this fear of how people see you is completely devastating to our honest hearts. It’s as if you have this mean dude in your head, standing over you with a hammer. Any move you make or think of making, he hits you over the head and shouts, “No! That’s dumb!” “No! That’s ugly!” “No! That’s too pretty!” “No! That’s too girly!” “No! That’s not girly enough!” “No! That’s too edgy!” And on and on it goes. Do you see why this fear of other’s perception of us is the most dangerous of all? It blocks off who YOU REALLY ARE!!
It’s time to shut that mean dude up. Stop listening to him. Eventually, if you stop listening to him, then you will no longer hear him. I promise, if you come from the most honest, vulnerable spot in your heart, your music will “speak” to people. You will connect with people who need your music. You will succeed. The best part of all is that you can decide right now, this very moment to stop listening to that dude and pay attention to your own heart and voice. Do it now!