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How to be more creative as a musician

Feel like you lack imagination? Know this: Everyone can be more original, it just takes practice.

You might think of creativity as something clever marketers or copywriters whip out when they need to come up with a compelling ad, or a personal trait only certain people, such as successful serial entrepreneurs or brilliant improv actors, naturally possess. But according to Keith Sawyer, research psychologist and author of “Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity,” everyone can be more creative just by taking eight incremental steps, but not necessarily in linear order. His path to creativity is more back and forth, a process in which the steps to greater imagination and originality build on and feed off each other.

The book is a gem, chock full of fascinating findings from research studies and a deep well of tactics that will get you thinking differently. In fact, Sawyer advocates what is likely a radical shift in mindset for most people. Coming up with good ideas isn’t something we leave until there’s a pressing need. Rather, it’s is a skill that can be practiced daily to solve life’s problems as well as discover its opportunities.

Here are his steps for cultivating creativity, along with a sampling of tips that can help you along the way.

1. Ask the right question.
Sawyer tells the stories of the beginnings of Starbucks and Instagram. Neither company would be what it is today if its founders had continued to try to solve the original questions they sought to answer. Instead of asking “How can I recreate the Italian espresso bar in the United States?” Howard Shultz eventually looked at what wasn’t working with that idea to instead ask “How can I create a comfortable, relaxing environment to enjoy great coffee?” And while Kevin Systrom originally pondered how he could create a great location-sharing app, a better question turned out to be “How can we create a simple photo-sharing app?”

Sawyer offers plentiful techniques for generating lots of questions.
Quickly, without overthinking it, write 10 variations of the same question. For example, for the classic question “How can I build a better mousetrap,” you might ask questions such as “How do I get the mice out of my house?” and “What does a mouse want?” or “How can I make my backyard more attractive to a mouse than my house?” One of your new questions will likely be a better one than your original.
Debug your life. Brutally criticize an imperfect product or situation you come in contact with every day. Once you have a list, think of ways to eliminate the annoyances. This can amp creativity because little problems are often symptoms of bigger ones. Steve Jobs, a genius innovator, excelled at finding bugs that distracted from a user’s experience of a product. Make something then reinterpret it. Sometimes before you get at the right question, you have to make something. Once you do, think of your creation being used for purposes other than your original intent. This process throws away your first assumptions, forcing you to consider new perspectives.

2. Become an expert.
The secret to exceptional success doesn’t lie in natural ability, but in deliberate practice. In fact, research suggest that being world class at anything requires 10,000 hours of practice (https://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/why-practice-doesnt-always-make-perfect.html). It’s not just doing the same thing over and over again, however. It should involve pushing yourself to master tasks just slightly beyond your capabilities.

You have to become an expert in an area before you can be creative in it. “Successful creators don’t just like knowledge, they thirst for it. They can’t stop asking questions, and they always go beyond what they’ve learned from teachers and books,” Sawyer writes. There are a plethora of methods to do this.

Listen to TED talks. They’re free videos of inspiring, funny, or fascinating speeches made by brilliant people. To get started, check out 6 TED Talks Every Entrepreneur Should Watch (https://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/6-ted-talks-every-entrepreneur-should-watch.html). Use all your senses to thoroughly delve into a subject. Let’s say you want to learn about the town of Mystras, Greece. You could learn some of the Greek language, search for photos of the Peloponnese online, cook some of its traditional food, watch videos of its traditional festivals, stream its local radio, and email an innkeeper there to get insider information about what the town is really like. Get a mentor. Nearly all Nobel Prize winners have them.

3. Be open and aware.
Creative people are always on the lookout for possible solutions. You can do this by becoming more aware and practicing mindfulness, which involves intentionally noticing things and not pegging people you meet based on your expectations or the categories you have established in your minds. Instead, try to be open and curious and resist stereotyping people.

Create your own luck. Researchers have found people who describe themselves as lucky tend to notice things more than self-described unlucky people. They also act on unexpected opportunities and network well with others because they’re curious. Unlucky people tend to be tense and so focused on narrow goals that they miss opportunities.

Don’t let accidents annoy you. Plenty of inventions–such as Penicillin, The Slinky and chewing gum–came into being because someone didn’t brush past an accident, but studied it instead.
Play with children’s toys. Playing children are really good at making new connections. “I’m not the least bit self-conscious about my toy collection,” Sawyer writes. “If you walk into just about any supercreative company, you’ll find toys all over the place.”

4. Play and pretend.
When you play, your mind can wander and your subconscious has time to work. This is why time off from work is necessary for creativity to bloom.

Explore the future. Imagine yourself being wildly successful five years from now. Write down as many details about what this success looks like. Then write the history of how you got there asking yourself questions such as, “What was the first step you took to move toward your goal?” or “What was one early obstacle and how did you move past it?”

Leave something undone. If at the end of the day you leave a task slightly unfinished it may be easier to start on the next day. That’s because cognitive threads are left hanging in your mind and as you go about your non-work activities your subconscious might hook onto them and give you a sudden insight.

Become a beginner. Learn how to do something new, such as Hula-Hooping, juggling, carving wood, or archery.

5. Generate lots of ideas.
This is the part where you come up with ideas, and lots of them.
List unusual uses for common household objects. What are lots of different ways you could use a paper clip, brick, or knife? Give yourself five minutes to come up with a long list. Don’t worry about whether your ideas are stupid or not.

Try toppling. This is where you use free association to keep generating new words. The trick, though, is to use a different kind of connection between each one. For example, if you start with “carrot” you can’t free associate another vegetable; instead, you might pick “stick,” as in the phrase “carrot and a stick,” then “glue” because you’re thinking of a glue stick. Another example: “Rock” might lead to “Scotch” because you drink it on the rocks.
Set an idea time. Block out a regular time when you’re sharp, relaxed, and undistracted. Julia Cameron, author of popular self-help book “The Artist’s Way” suggests taking 30 minutes each morning to freewrite in a journal. As you do, you’ll notice new ideas creeping in.

6. Fuse ideas.
This involves combining things that don’t normally go together. In a recent study British neuroscientist Paul Howard-Jones asked people to create stories by giving them only three words. To one set of people the words were related, such as “brush,” “teeth,” and “shine.” Another set of people received unrelated words such as “cow,” “zip,” and “star.” The people who received the unrelated words made up more creative stories.

Make remote associations. Go to page 56 in two different books and find the fifth sentence on each. Now create a story that tells the connection between the two. Use analogy. Find similarity between two things that on the surface seem different. Find something that’s removed from your problem, then define five structural properties of it. Instead of listing “sharp” or “metal” for a knife, for example, you’d want to identify things like “requires downward pressure to cut.” How can these characteristics apply to whatever you’re trying solve?

Engage with people who are different from you. We hang out with people who are like us, and while doing so may be comforting, it’s not stretching. Also try imagining yourself as someone else–such as a chef, a foreign student, a building inspector. How would such people see the world?

7. Choose the best ideas.
If you’ve followed the first six steps, you should have plenty of ideas. Now the trick is picking the best ones.
Know what you’re looking for. To do that, you need to trust your intuition–the sense that an idea has beauty. Sawyer also recommends going with ideas that are simple, elegant, and robust (the latter referring to a design that will keep working under adversity or if used improperly).

Make ideas compete against each other. Select two of them and define how they’re different, even in the most subtle ways. Or if you have more than 50 ideas write each one on a sticky note or index cards. Move ideas that seem related close together. You’ll arrive at idea clusters and can look at interesting differences between ideas; perhaps they all vary along the same dimension.

Look past the good. Once you’ve decided an idea is a good one, identify its pros and cons, assign each one a number between one and 10 according to how important it is. The pro total should be significantly higher than your tally for cons. You should also think of the worst-case scenario. What terrible things might happen to foil the success of your idea?

Never stop editing. Everything can always be made better. Find a devil’s advocate to come up with a bunch of reasons why your idea is a bad one. Or, ask people you trust will be honest with you to look critically at your idea. And even failed ideas can be repurposed. The Post It, Sawyer points out, was the result of an adhesive that didn’t work very well.

8. Make something out of your great ideas.
Sawyer holds up the Silicon Valley design firm IDEO for its use of “design thinking,” which seeks to get simple versions of an idea into the world as early as possible–maybe in an hour or a day–by using simple materials such as clay or cardboard to give shape to a new concept. It’s a way of thinking through making, a process that often leads to more ideas.

Draw a picture. Even if you think you can’t draw, you can at least doodle and no one ever has to see what you put to paper. Abstract problems–such as your relationship with someone or a crushing workload–benefit most from turning them into sketches. Cartooning with exaggerated shapes or using simple symbols helps.

Make a collage. Grab a stack of magazines and look for photos and ads. Clip any that relate to your problem in any way and glue them to a large piece of poster board. Keep this art near your desk where you can ponder it. You may get a new perspective on your problem.
Build something. Legos, Tinkertoys, an Erector Set, modeling clay, Silly Putty, and Play-Doh are all good materials you can use to build your idea. Sawyer himself keeps a bag of Legos in his briefcase for times when he has nothing to do.

Check out Sawyer’s book if you want to know more–he claims it offers more than 100 tips on how to be more creative.

How to get gigs for artists, bands and musicians

This is the best way to get gigs.

  • Gigs lead to gigs
  • Use your existing network
  • List and approach local venues
  • List and approach relevant promoters
  • Mirror other musicians
  • Look for ‘support’ opportunities
  • Competitions

Sam Smith Announces Dreamy New Single ‘How Do You Sleep’

When the Instagram account @howdoyousleep appeared last month, fans immediately linked it to pop singer Sam Smith. The account, which teased out short sets of lyrics, given tips on combating insomnia and promoted a cryptic website, only followed Smith. Now, fans have finally found out why.

Smith revealed the release date of “How Do You Sleep,” his newest single, on Wednesday (July 10). Sending out the song’s album art and a message revealing the project as his latest single, Smith revealed that the song will be available everywhere Friday, July 19. 

The clip also contains what appears to be a short teaser of the song, as a series of distorted xylophones play an entrancing, lullaby-esque melody. The music had been used in a few of @howdoyousleep’s posts, sometimes slowed down and other times warped beyond recognition.

The album art follows the same theme as Smith’s other 2019 single, “Dancing with a Stranger” with Normani, depicting a bottle of cologne bearing the title of the song on its face.

“How Do You Sleep” is out everywhere July 19. Check out Smith’s teaser clip: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzvBj2QgFTL/


16 accessible and affordable music marketing tips

  1. Keep it old school.

Sure, we may be living in a digital era. Streaming platforms are dominant, and CDs are useful only to anthropologists. But, there will always be music lovers who appreciate all things vintage. Plus, over the past 12 years, annual sales of vinyl records in the U.S. have surged by 15 times! Go to record stores and advertise your band however you like—posters, stickers, buttons, etc. You can also ask an employee if they’re willing to play your latest music.

2. Get on social media.

Americans spend roughly 24 hours per week on the Internet. 33% of that online time is dedicated to social media. That comes out to over an hour per day of social media consumption. 

So, is social media an important part of your strategy? Is Radiohead’s In Rainbows criminally overlooked because people think it’s edgy to say Kid A is their favorite album?

Facebook is terrific for organizing and promoting upcoming concerts. Each month, hundreds of millions of consumers use Facebook Events to find stuff to do in their cities and neighborhoods. In fact, Facebook Local, a standalone app, is designed to direct users to nearby Events based on their locations. 

3. Create an awesome cross-platform community.

People often generalize hashtags as spam. But, did you know that your band can use them to bring fans together and create a super fun online community?

The amazing thing about your fans is that they want to spread your music to new listeners. If you create a hashtag for the release of your newest single, EP, or album, you can rest assured that your loyal followers are going to use that hashtag as well. And each time one of your fans shares it with their social media circles, tons of people you’ve yet to reach are getting exposed to your band.

Hashtags also allow you to find the people who are talking about you online and interact with them. Every music fan fantasizes about getting the chance to have a conversation with their favorite artists. Be the artist who thanks fans for listening and answers their random questions! This does wonders for your public images.

4. Use contests to get more people to your shows.

Music—particularly live music—is all about community. One of the best parts of seeing your favorite band live is reliving the experience with your friends immediately afterwards. 

Your band can tap into the social aspect of concerts by launching a contest! When you create a Facebook Event for your upcoming show, let your fans know how it works. Whoever invites the most new people to the Event gets a prize of your (or her) choice—a backstage pass, a free item of merch, and so on. Running a contest like this is a fun, engaging way to get more people at your shows. Plus, you can do it for as many or as few shows as you want!

5. Play a free show.

If there’s one thing that beats live music, it’s free live music. Of course, from an opportunity cost perspective, it’s expensive to give up a night that you could be using to make money from a regular concert. However, if you have the flexibility to occasionally play free shows in parks, town commons, and coffee houses, it can be a fantastic way to get your music out there and find new fans. 

Plus, in an era when ticket vendors charge exorbitant fees for no apparent reason other than turning a profit, putting your music out for free is a surefire way to brand yourself as a cool, down-to-earth artist. 

6. Play your new stuff on a radio show.

Much like vinyl, great radio is never going to die. Maybe I’m just in denial, but I truly believe that music consumers will always find value in the local radio stations that play stuff you wouldn’t otherwise hear over the airwaves. 

If there’s an awesome indie station in your hometown, or if you have a show booked in a city with such a station, reach out and try to organize an album release appearance. Ideally, they’ll have a set-up that allows you to play live in the studio. But, if you’re limited to simply spinning a few tracks and providing commentary, that’s perfectly good, too.

Either way, local radio stations offer a way for your band to generate buzz and reach a captive audience that can (most likely) get something out of your music. 

7. Go on tour with other artists.

What better way to get new listeners to hear your awesome music than to play a show for an entirely different fanbase? Opening up for a more popular band—ideally one with a sound similar to yours—guarantees that you’re reaching audiences who want to listen. One amazing set is all it takes to get hundreds, if not thousands, of Spotify users to look up your profile before the headliner comes on stage. If you can get new fans out of every show, your band will be the one looking for openers some day soon.

8. Play at genre-specific festivals.

When you think of music festivals, the ones that come to mind are the major players: Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball, and so on. While it’s no small achievement for a small indie outfit to get on the bill at one (or more) of these festivals, playing them may not generate as much buzz as you would hope. Your band may be superb, but if the majority of attendees are there to get wasted and bop to Travis Scott, they’re probably not going to pay much attention to your dream pop songs.

Alternatively, you can focus your festival energies on the festivals reserved for artists within your genre. By opting for more niche festivals, you’re playing your music for audiences that truly want to hear it. You know the attendees are there for more than the food and the booze; they’re there because they love the genre and want to discover more artists within it.

9. Document your existence.

For whatever reason, we’re a little obsessed with the personal lives of the artists we admire. We hate to break it to you, but your most dedicated fans probably wonder what you eat for breakfast and which Netflix shows you love. A little creepy? Sure. Something you can build on? Absolutely!

You can use a blog as a platform for tons of different stuff. Provide inside looks into your songwriting process. Tell funny stories from the road. Recommend other artists that you love. Publishing content like this makes you a more likable persona and creates opportunities for people who have never heard of you to find your website while poking around Google.

If you’re not a wordsmith, vlogging is another great option. It allows you to give fans the behind-the-scenes content they want and opens the door for finding new listeners through popular video platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

10. Incorporate your fans into the process.

Yes, they’re interested in weird stuff like your dietary habits and entertainment preferences. But, the connections your fans feel with your band and with your music go a lot deeper than that. Like we said under tip #3—they want to help you succeed. An email newsletter is an excellent way to incorporate them into certain processes: naming songs, creating album covers, writing liner notes, etc.

You have to give them an incentive. Maybe you reward the first 100 people who download your newest single by adding them to the newsletter. Or maybe you want to emphasize your live performances, and the newsletter recipients are the first 100 people to buy tickets to your next hometown show. Whichever way you slice it, this is a great tactic to drive downloads and ticket sales. Building your fans into the album release process is certain to keep them engaged.

11. Make awesome music videos.

I know, I know. We may as well advise you to make good music while you’re at it. But, hear us out.

Nearly one-third of all Internet users watch videos on YouTube. Over half a billionpeople watch Facebook videos every day. Between the two platforms, 45% of people watch at least an hour of video content every week. More and more every day, video is the form of content people want the most.

Creating super compelling music videos is a stellar way to grab Internet users’ attention and introduce them to your music. Plus, people love to share videos with followers, friends, and family members.

The best part: you don’t need a huge budget to make a great music video.

12. Reach out to critics and music writers.

As much as people like to poke fun at music critics for being too self-serious, a lot of them exert serious influence over which artists and albums get the time of day. For example, Anthony Fantano publishes tons of album reviews on his YouTube channel, theneedledrop. Earlier this year, he eclipsed 1.5 million subscribers. The visibility an artist gets following one of Fantano’s reviews is immense.

It may not be realistic for your band to get featured on such a popular channel. Regardless, you should email bloggers and magazine writers and ask them to review your latest material. In the same vein as opening for bigger artists, getting reviewed on a reputable website will undoubtedly direct music fans to your streaming profiles. Plus, if the writers are kind enough to link to your website, those blog posts you’ve been writing will inch higher and higher up the Google search results.

13. Or write your own freelance reviews.

Now, assuming that your efforts to take your band to the next level are rather time-consuming, you probably don’t have the time to hold down a full-time staff writer gig.

But, making the time to write occasional guest reviews for music magazines could give you some great exposure. If there’s an EP or album you feel qualified to review, reach out to the editors at music publications like PitchforkThe WireHipHopDX, and XXL. Put together an author bio and mention that, when you’re not writing reviews, you’re single-handedly keeping the indie rock genre alive. 

Directing music publications’ readers to your streaming profiles is the obvious benefit. Plus, working as a freelance writer enables you to develop relationships with the editors who decide what gets reviewed. This boosts your chances of getting your music reviewed and generating serious buzz around new releases.

14. Feature your music prominently on your website.

Under tip #2, we mentioned that Facebook is now encouraging artists and businesses to sell tickets directly through their Events. This is huge because it makes it a lot easier for consumers to purchase tickets to your shows. Nobody wants to catch wind of an exciting concert and then dig around a bunch of different websites for a ticket. The underlying principle is that you want to make consumers exert minimal effort.

This principle applies to your website design. If you bury your songs under a “Music” tab, you’re forcing the people who visit your site to click at least once to find your material. That sounds like nothing, but it makes a difference. Regardless of which streaming platforms you’re on—Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Spotify—make sure to embed your newest music prominently on your homepage. This way, when someone visits your site, they don’t have to lift a finger in order to hear your music.

15. Get interviewed.

Generally speaking, people will listen to anything that sounds good. Unfortunately, we, as a society, have a nasty habit of supporting artists who do bad things in their personal lives simply because their songs are catchy. 

That being said, music listeners really love artists who make great music and demonstrate some kind of moral compass. Getting interviewed—whether it’s on camera at a festival or in print on a website—is your best chance to show people how awesome and likable you are. 

Even if someone has never heard of your band before, one fantastic interview could be all it takes to convince them to give your new single a spin.

16. Take your time.

Justin Mares and Gabriel Weinberg are two dudes who wrote a book titled Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth. Their principal argument is that most startups fail because they dedicate all their time and resources to product development, neglecting to develop their core distribution channels. These companies go to market with a shiny new product and have no mechanisms for building a customer base.

The music industry equivalent is a band that drops an album before anyone has ever heard of them. It’s understandable, of course. The creative energy is high and you’re cranking out the best material of your life—that’s awesome. But, unless you generate a healthy amount of buzz with some killer lead singles (and perhaps an EP), your debut album release is going to be a disappointment. 

Take your time and build up a library of stellar songs that could fill three albums. Keep the momentum going while you gradually release songs and let the hype build.

Start your music marketing campaign

The first thing you have to think about when putting together your marketing plan is this:

  • What is your core goal?

It’s essential that the most successful and long-lasting campaigns start locally and build globally, and that no matter how grand the overall goal is, it makes sense for all artists to attack this goal on a per-project basis. A typical music marketing plan looks at the lifecycle of one record (which could end up being more than a year of well-performing release).

For traditional record labels, the goal was easy: sell records. Labels have the infrastructure in place (distribution and marketing, mostly) to replicate past marketing plans with slight adjustments based on the individual characteristics and existing fan base of the particular band they are working with.

Independent artists that do not have a label’s built-in promotion and distribution mechanisms must be more detailed with their plans. For example, the core goal of using their new release to expand their fan base. A band that was formerly signed to a label might be interested in tapping into the national or international marketing inroads that their former label made.

This plan might have the goal of connecting with past supporters of the band to sell an independent release. It’s essential to have a long-term vision in terms of creating a working marketing plan, you need to consider the stage you are at in your career and be realistic about what is possible for you.

6 inspiration tips for a song

At times artists, musicians and songwriters need inspiration for songs. Use your own life story or someone elses life story to inspire others. I give you 6 inspiration tips for a song.

Make a song about:

  • Self-realization / Self development
  • Appreciation / Self respect / Respect for others
  • Recognition / Acknowledgement
  • Social contact / Belong to a social group
  • Safety / Security / Certainty
  • Oxygen / Food / Drinks / Sleep / Sex

5 reasons why artists care about what others think of them

Getting feedback from your environment.

  1. Feedback doesn’t tell something about yourself, it says something about the person who gives the feedback
  2. Feedback which is strategically useful is something you save
  3. You will get criticism
  4. Criticism hurts when it’s a reflection of what we believe in
  5. Ask yourself what is more important

10 tips that will reduce your stress

Stress is not good for our health. It has damaging risks on your body and mind. Therefore it’s important to look at things to reduce your stress. How can you reduce your stress?

– Don’t call stress stress. Most of the time we tell ourselves we stress, if we keep on calling it stress then we feel the stress. So it’s important to call it something else like overwhelmed. Do you feel the difference in words?

– Do sports. Sports reduces your stress level. It keeps you fit and gives you positive energy.

– Walking (in nature). Our head tents to feel overloaded when we have stress. If we focus on nature our head feels less overloaded and is focussed on a few things around us.

– Focus on your hobbies. Work is our main stress factor. When we decide to focus on hobbies as well, we feel enlightened from the experience we have on work.

– Look for positive energy. During stress we feel negative. It’s not the most productive way to work. Therefore positive energy gives us a lot more. Focus on the positive things you’ve already reached.

– Talk to other people. Sometimes we don’t know the answer ourselves. It’s good to talk to other people instead. How do they reduce their stress?

– Take enough rest during the day. We are always running from one work spot to an other. It’s easy to do this, but in the mean time we don’t have relax moments to reflect. Reflection is a good way to see what you’ve already done and be proud of that. 

– Make to do lists. We’re stressing most of the time, because we think we have less time to do tasks at work. When we make to do lists, we can see if we use the time in a usefull and stress reduced way.

– Listen or play music. Music works therapeutically. On Spotify you have lots of music which makes you feel more relaxed and comfortable. 

– Is the stress realistic or not? We think we have stress, but most of the time it’s not realistic. We need to realize in the end we all do the best we can. And sometimes we don’t accomplish work deadlines. Is that really something we should stress over? We still are humans in the end.

And at last, ask for help if you need it.

10 Ways To Find The Music Career That Lasts

Do you wonder why music careers always fall apart? What pushes fans away? Are the expectations too high…or too low? How can you recognize dead-end music careers and stop wasting time on them? What are the signs fans will never commit? What are the red flags you should never ignore? What factors decide whether a music career succeeds or fails? What do fans want from an artist? What are the most common mistakes artists make? Why do fans lose interest?

And most importantly, what are the real reasons artists can’t find the music career that lasts?

1. Choose wisely.
I spent far too many years wondering why music careers always fell apart and artists couldn’t get anything to last. The answer was so obvious I felt like a fool for failing to see it all along: artists were choosing the wrong fans. The fans who wouldn’t or couldn’t give artists what they wanted. When I finally wised up and started with more of a purpose, with the aim of finding something long lasting. I cultivated: I want to see artists have a music career, not a music project.

2. A Music Career is amazing… but it isn’t a fantasy.
A music career won’t make all your pain and problems go away. It won’t erase the memory of all your old hurts and wounds, it won’t give you a healthy sense of self-esteem and it won’t open the gates of everlasting happiness and bliss. A music career can enhance your life in many ways, but it will never be perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect music career.

This one took me a while to fully grasp because like many people in the music industry, I fell for the popular ideology our culture perpetuates about the music career. I thought that with the right people in the music industry, it would all just work out and everything would be amazing. I thought this was enough. But it isn’t.

It’s also about timing (it has to be the right time for both the artist and the fan), fundamental compatibility, similar goals, and emotional maturity. A music career can be a beautiful, transformative thing, but not in a vacuum. A lot of other elements need to align, and you need to accept and embrace the fact that it will take work.

3. Sometimes you’re the problem.
Having a music career that won’t last for an extended amount of time can be for two reasons: you legitimately haven’t met the right fans, or you haven’t got the right music for the fan. I saw artists who ran into fans countless times. It took time before they go to their concerts.

4. Stop wasting time!
Oh what I would do to get back some of the time I’ve wasted over the years. If he / she won’t be your fan, if the fan won’t commit, if they treat you badly, if the fan doesn’t appreciate you, forget the fan. It seems so obvious, yet so many of us fail in this area. Why does it happen? Essentially, we see the potential and get enamored in thoughts of what could be. And we don’t see the fan as the problem, we think we need to try harder, we need to crack the fans code so we can get the fan to be the fan we want. It doesn’t work that way. Doing this usually causes more pain and is a huge waste of time.

5. Everyone makes mistakes.
When I talk about mistakes artists make in their career, a lot of artists will get hyper defensive and say I’m blaming them and it’s not their fault because all fans are jerks. That’s one way to look at things, but it’s not a very productive, helpful way to look at things.

The fact is we all need to understand how music careers work: the dynamics at play, what sets the foundation for an amazing music career, why some last, and why others don’t. It requires being open to the idea that you may be doing things wrong, and that’s OK! The biggest music career mistake that I see being committed, and I was once a major offender, is being too needy and expecting way too much out of a fan and a music career.

6. Self-Love is everything.
What keeps us in bad music careers isn’t that all fans are jerks or that music careers are so hard or that we’re unworthy or that all the good fans are taken. What keeps us in bad music careers is low self-esteem. When you don’t value yourself, you will accept and even welcome people who don’t value you into your life. You won’t see how wrong this is, how unacceptable this is. If you treat yourself badly, you will accept bad treatment from others. Self-love always comes before healthy music career.

7. The Chase is nonsense!
OK not total nonsense, it does kind of work. But it isn’t sustainable! The chase creates the illusion of confidence and leaves enough uncertainty to create the illusion of chemistry. Everything feels more dramatic and exciting when we don’t know how the other person feels. But a music career isn’t built on uncertainty. Yes, that can galvanize things, it can rouse interest, but you need something real in order for that interest to remain and deepen.

8. Fans lose interest for reasons you can’t see.
There are overt behaviors that push fans away, and there are covert ones … the latter causing a lot more confusion than the former! It can really hurt when a fan who seemed so into it at first does a complete 180 seemingly out of the blue and it’s hard not to take it personal.

This usually happens for visceral reasons you can’t see, but that they can feel, and usually comes from too much stressing. Stressing over a music career usually ruins it. As does getting attached to a certain outcome. When you expect a serious music career to unfold with a fan, then you lose something if the music career ends. When you can just go with it, you only have something to gain.

9. It doesn’t matter what you say, it’s the way you say It
I used to be a terrible communicator. No, scratch that. I was able to effectively communicate in certain settings. My direct, no-nonsense, intellectually thought-out and unemotional way of speaking served me well in terms of my career, but it didn’t do me many favors when it came to my music career.

Communication is a huge determining factor in whether a music career will survive or fail. You have to learn how to speak in a way so the other person hears you, otherwise you’re just wasting your breath and getting nowhere.

10. Artist and Fans mutual interest are different
They also need different things in a music career. Fans primarily need to feel appreciated for who they are and what they have to give. They need to feel like winners. If they don’t, then they won’t want to be involved in the music career for very long. You’ll notice in most cases that the fan says the reason it ended is he no longer felt appreciated.

Fans need to feel like the fan, they need to be respected for what they provide (this does not only mean material items).

How To Get Signed by a Label

Today we’re going to look at how to get signed by a label. If you’ve ever had dreams of signing to a record label and have them propel you to fame and fortune, this is a must-read guide. In it we’re going to look at two often overlooked truths of getting a record deal, as well as what it takes to get someone to sign you in this day and age.

How To Get Signed by a Label
Before we look at how to get a record deal, I want to quickly look at the reality behind getting signed. While getting a record label on board with your music career can be great and give you the resources to take your music to the next level, there are two key things you need to think about before signing anything:
– Having a record deal isn’t an instant path to success. In fact, some record deals could actually hinder progress in your career. It’s important you get someone who knows what to look out for to look over any contract before you sign it.
– Even if you’re signed, you should still pay attention to the way your music career is run. You should also be in the loop as to how you are being promoted, and be given some creative control.

Now I’m not saying this to scare you or turn you off getting a record deal. That said, it’s important you know that not every deal will be suitable for your personally. It’s important you get in your head a clear idea of what you’re looking for in a deal before you sign anything and be aware that getting signed isn’t a magic pill that will mean overnight success. Just because you get a record deal, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to “make it”. There are a lot of different types of deals you can sign; some are good, some are bad.

Similarly, if you end up signing to the wrong label, your deal could actually do more harm than good. They could end up completely changing the direction of your music (for the worse), or they could hold back your album and never release it at all. We’ll look more at this later in this guide.

With regards to the second point, it’s important that you have a good base knowledge of music marketing. That said, and believe it or not, record labels don’t always get it right. They may not fully understand what your market wants, or even why any existing fans have taken to you in the first place. Without this knowledge, they run the risk of alienating your existing fans, and attracting new fans that will never be as diehard as the current ones.

If this happens and your sales don’t do well, you will get dropped and be back to square one. Your original fans will have gone, and your new fans that were only there for “the next big thing” have moved on to liking someone else. Some artists are signed on recommendations or referrals. While this is a good way to get your foot in the door, if the label is clueless as to what to do with you (and this does happen), you stand to gain very little from being on the label.

Because of this, it’s important to follow along with what any label is planning for you, and have the knowledge to see when something is being done wrong. From here, you can hopefully work with the label to get your promotional campaign on a better path. Understanding the fact that a record deal won’t mean instant success and that you’ll still need to get involved in the marketing side of things, you’ll be able to negotiate a much better deal when that time comes. And who knows, you may even decide you don’t need one if you’re doing well for yourself.

The harsh reality is that sometimes labels will sign you and then do nothing to help you with your music career. If you don’t know how to market yourself, how to book a tour, or how to grow your fan base, you will eventually be dropped from the label.

How To Get A Record Deal Worth Signing
How to get a record deal. I’m sure if you’ve read any other guides on this subject, they’d suggest you send your demo into record labels and it’ll all get going from there. Now I’m not sure if you’ve tried this or not, but I can tell you one thing now: Unless you’re already established in your genre, this is largely a waste of your time. Unsolicited demos really don’t work anymore.

While this used to be a good way to get on the raider of record labels, the chances of this working these days is extremely slim. Record labels have become extremely picky over who they choose to sign, and generally only go on to give a deal to musicians who have a proven track record behind them. This could be in terms of how many units they have already sold, how much buzz they’re receiving in their chosen genre, or how much of a fan base they already have.

Putting all of these things into place and then approaching a record label is the most effective way to get signed. Forget all the “guides” that tell you how to get a record deal fast or how to get a record deal, below I’m going to break down what you really need to do to make things work for you and why.

At the end of the day, record labels are businesses. The reality is it’s become financially risky for them to sign unproven acts, and it’s expensive to train up newbie acts to become the complete package. But, they still need acts to make their business work. The solution for them? Save time and money by signing someone that’s already at least partly established in their scene. They won’t have to spend as much money to get this musician known, and if they already have experience performing and recording etc., they’ll waste fewer resources teaching them how to do this as well.

So, what am I getting at? How can you get signed? From what I’ve seen, the best way to get a record deal at the moment is to market yourself, build up your fan base, and start getting yourself out there as much as possible as an independent musician. It’s because of this that signing a deal shouldn’t be your main aim for now.

As I mentioned, the majority of people that get a record deal these days are people with a proven track record. As it’s unlikely you’re going to get signed before you’re established, you have to prove that you’re worth the investment before you get a deal. I know you may want a record deal so you don’t have to think about promoting yourself, but the truth is you will most likely have to market yourself initially if you want to get signed. This means it’s essential to learn at least a base level of marketing to gain any kind of success in today’s music industry.

Once you’ve learned how to market yourself, if you manage to get yourself a buzz in the underground scene in your chosen genre, you’ll find that record labels will start noticing you. You may want to send a demo in to potential labels at this point, but only if you’ve achieved a number of things already. This is because you’ll need to attach your musical CV alongside your demo, and if it doesn’t read very long or hasn’t got many standout points, there’s a lot less chance your demo will be taken seriously.

This stage of things isn’t truly essential however, as if you’re at the stage where you’re making a big noise in your genre, record labels will find you. They may not approach you initially, as they often scout people out and watch them over a period of time before they decide whether or not you’re right to join them. Because of this it’s important that you leave clear details of where people can catch you performing live and what you’re doing on your music website.

Make Music That Matches The Record Deal You Want
While this may sound obvious when said out loud, sometimes this is a point that needs to be stressed. If you want to get signed, you need to think about the kind of music you’re making. For example, if you’re making songs with explicit content or themes that aren’t very mainstream, don’t expect to be signed to a mainstream record label. There are some decent sized labels that may still be able to cater to you and your needs, but there are also a lot of labels that won’t.

If your aim is to get a record deal, you need to look at what labels are already out there, and who are some of the acts they’ve already signed. If there’s a record label that already has an act like you, this could either be a positive or a negative. It’s positive as they already market the kind of music you create, but it’s a negative in that they’ve already got a “you”. So why would they need another you?

Ideally, you’ll want to look for labels that cater to your genre and ideal fan base, but that haven’t already got someone doing what you do. This is the best scenario to be in, as the last thing you want to be doing is competing for attention with your label mate. And if your label decides to promote them more over you? You could be left in the dirt. Getting on the right record label is all important, as only the right record label can give you the right record deal.

Become The Kind Of Artist Labels Want To Sign
We’ve now covered the basics of getting signed to a label. But what are labels truly looking for? What makes them go, “yes, we must sign this artist”? This goes back to what was said earlier about having a proven track record. But you might not be entirely clear on what that means, so let’s delve deeper. I’m going to be sharing five keys to getting signed as an independent artist. But know that each of these items are closely linked together, and are inseparable from each other. You can’t work on just one and expect to make it – you must work on everything.

Your Branding Needs To Be Stellar
Many artists struggle with this, and that’s because it isn’t easy to put together. You need to think like a businessperson, and bring your image and your music into perfect alignment. When it comes to your logo and graphics, the font, colors, and shape all need to be chosen carefully. These are the same brand elements you’re going to be using everywhere (i.e. on social media, emails, posters, etc.), so they better be on-point with your musical identity.

Another important element to your brand is your story. You need to think about what your mission and vision is as an artist, and craft a compelling story around it. This is the central place from which all communication and marketing needs to flow. You also need to define your audience. This is something you can begin to figure out as you grow your social media followers, and perform and tour more, but you need to start collecting audience data immediately. And don’t stop at demographics – age, location, gender, and so on. Dig deep. Make note of their preferences for fast food, fashion, beverages, and so on. This also extends into what you wear, how you carry yourself, what you say to people, and so on.

You Must Release New Music Continually
You will also need to invest in the best engineering and production you can afford. This may not be much at first, but you need to make it your goal to get into better and better studios, and work with better producers as you are able. But keep in mind – you don’t have much time to waste in the studio, because the moment your release is ready, you’re going to need to go on a radio and tour blitz. You’ll learn more about that below, but if you’re going to be touring every year, you can’t afford to spend more than a couple of months in the studio.

You Need To Get On The Radio
Forget mainstream commercial radio, because your chances of being played on it are next to none. But community and college radio represents a major opportunity for independent artists, and if you work hard, you’ll even rank in the charts. The major labels essentially control the radio, so they will pay attention to acts that are breaking through despite the controls they’ve put into place. But don’t worry about that. Just focus on getting played at as many stations as possible so you can tour through those towns.

You Need To Perform Tour Like Your Career Depends On It
And make no mistake – if you’re hungry for that record deal – your career does depend on it. Get your butt out there. Record, get on the radio, perform. Record, get on the radio, perform. Increase your circle of influence every year.

You Must Build Your Fan Base
This means growing your social media followers into the thousands and even tens of thousands. And we are talking about legit followers here – you can’t just pay a service to boost your numbers, as any marketer worth their salt will see right through that. So, make it your goal to increase your followers with every show you play. Yes, you will need to be proactive in drawing attention to your social media profiles.

Sign On The Dotted Line
Does the above seem time-consuming, expensive, difficult, or even unreasonable? Perhaps so. But we are firmly in the DIY age, and labels aren’t going to take any chances on artists that don’t have their stuff in a group. What you need is proof, and a string of releases, tours, radio play, and a large social following are all signals to labels that you’re ready for the big time.

Record labels can make for great partners. But that’s what you should see them as – a partner. Not as an express ticket to stardom. In an ideal world, signing to a label would foster meaningful collaboration between the two parties. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way.

Important: Not All Record Deals Are Made Equal
One thing you need to remember is not all record deals will be good for you. “Getting a record deal” and “getting a good record deal” are two completely different things. Don’t be too quick to sign anything just because someone offers you a deal.

Conclusion
While it’s not as easy as it once was to get signed, it is still possible. You may have to go about it in a different way and take a more hands-on approach before you get signed, but it will make you more knowledgeable as a musician. This will in turn help you get a better deal, and be able to guide your music career in a more beneficial manner. While having a record deal isn’t essential to do well as a musician, having a decent budget and resources available to you can definitely be beneficial.

25 Little Changes To Make Your Day Exciting

I admit it, I’m a change addict. I love new cities, apartments and friends. This can be both a strength and a weakness.

On the one hand, I never shy away from a new experience or opportunity. On the other hand, it takes a strong effort for me to stick with anything once the novelty wears off.

So today I started thinking about all the ways I can make a day exciting without changing any of the big things that need to stay constant if I’m to make progress on my larger goals. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Start the day with a blank piece of paper and the question: “What if today were my last?”

Write down what you’d do differently and then try to do at least five of those things.

2. Wear something much bolder than you usually do.

This gives people the opportunity to see you in a new light, which means they may interact with you differently.

3. Take a different path when you walk to work.

Maybe you’ll pass a restaurant you’d like to try sometime or a gym that’s offering free classes.

4. If you drive, park your car a mile away and take the bus the rest of the way.

I did this one time and met a stranger on the bus who I became friends with. Well worth the detour!

5. If you take public transportation for your commute, make the time meditative or educational.

Practice deep breathing, listen to soothing music, or download an audio book for the ride.

6. Bring your camera and take pictures of things that catch your eye throughout the day.

You’ll notice a lot more than you usually do—and new people will likely talk to you to figure out what you’re doing.

7. Change your workspace.

Bring new pictures and candles, or move your desk if you’re able. Rearranging furniture always makes my space more exciting.

8. Start collecting something you often see throughout the day.

It will make the whole day more interesting if you have your eyes peeled for rare coins, specific pens, and odd food labels.

9. Make it a goal to talk to five people you don’t know.

And I mean real conversations. Ask them what they do on the weekends, what their favorite memory is, and whether or not they like spam. (Okay, the last one is less interesting, but I think it says a lot about you if you eat unidentifiable lunch meat.)

10. Commit to complimenting everyone you encounter on something.

Sometimes it will be easy; sometimes it will be challenging. Every time it will brighten someone’s day and fill you with joy.

11. Take a class during your lunch break.

Head to the gym, learn to do pottery, start guitar lessons. You can always eat a sandwich at your desk later.

12. Eat lunch at a different time than usual.

You never know what you’re missing in the office when you head out at the same time every day.

13. Make lunch and bring enough for two people.

Then offer some to someone in your office.

14. Give yourself a challenge.

Maybe it’s to find a lower car insurance rate or talk to someone you secretly admire. I get a big kick out of little victories like these.

15. Read about a topic that’s completely new and interesting to you.

Then start a conversation about it. It’s always fun to share a new passion, especially if the other person gets excited, too.

16. Learn ten new words from a thesaurus and then use them all twice during the day.

Maybe I’m just a dork but I get excited about stretching my vocabulary!

17. Practice mindfulness during a boring activity.

In Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s book The Miracle of Mindfulness, he explains how he stays fully present when washing the dishes—and enjoys it. Anything can be interesting if you get curious about how it works.

18. Count risks.

See how many (smart) risks you can take throughout the day, like accepting a difficult assignment or committing to something you’ve never done before.

19. Say yes to everything.

In the movie Yes Man, Jim Carrey said yes to absolutely everything, even an intimate moment with someone’s grandma. I’m not suggesting you go to that extreme, but you’ll likely have an exciting day if you say yes to most things you’re asked.

20. Commit random acts of kindness.

You’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling and you’ll create some good karma for yourself. You never know when that kindness will come back to you and open up your world.

21. Bet on things.

Once on The Office everyone bet on stupid things, like how long it would take Kelly to explain Netflix to Ryan, or whether Creed would notice they replaced his apple with a potato. If you’re pulling an all-nighter, this could be a fun way to hold onto your sanity.

22. Set up a profile on a dating site (if you’re single).

I was on Tinder for a while—don’t laugh—and I have to admit I kind of watched my app like a kid counting down ‘til Christmas.

23. Ask someone to come out to play.

Kids are always willing to jump around, get messy, and give get their blood pumping. You still have legs and endorphins—tap into that. Play basketball after work, go bike riding, or spend some time on the swings.

24. Learn something new during all your routine activities.

When you buy coffee, ask the barista how long the shop has been there. When you make copies, pay attention to how the machine works.

25. Swap apartments with a friend for a night.

Assuming you trust each other, why not? A change of scenery can work wonders; and it’s always fun to see how someone else lives.

I once read that intelligent people are never bored because they’re always curious. You’re smart—start exploring! If you keep your mind engaged and fresh during your downtime, you’ll have far more passion and focus when it’s time to get productive. And equally important, you’ll enjoy more of the minutes that would otherwise just pass by.

10 Things That Killed Musicians their Motivation and How They Got It Back

Motivation is central to creativity, productivity, and happiness. Motivation is what causes us to act, and when we act, we create movement, growth, and change; we feel involved, masterful, and significant; we feel powerful through experiencing how we can change the world; and we create more of what we love in our lives. And all of this gives our lives purpose and happiness.

Demotivation Is Like Snow
It’s said that Eskimos have multiple words for snow. It’s so familiar to them, they can appreciate the subtle differences between the varied types. These distinctions let Eskimos respond differently to different types of snow, depending on the challenges and opportunities that each particular type of snow presents.

Most of us have just one conception of demotivation, which means that whenever you’re unmotivated, you’re likely to assume that you’re struggling with the same problem. The truth: Demotivation is a category of problems, containing many variations. When you have just one kind of demotivation, you’ll apply the same old strategies whenever you feel unmotivated. For many musicians, those strategies look like this: set dreams, push harder, create accountability checks that will push you, and run your life using to-do lists. These strategies are ineffective with most types of demotivation, and in some instances they can even make you more unmotivated.

At its essence, demotivation is about not fully committing to act, and there are many reasons why you might be in that position. Having more ways to categorize your demotivation will help you identify the real reasons for your unwillingness move forward. Then, you can pick the right tools and strategies to help you get motivated again.

Here are 10 types of demotivation and the strategies that I found while working with musicians, their motivation and how they got it back:

1. You’re Demotivated by Fear
When you’re afraid, even if you’re entering territory that you’ve chosen to move into, a part of you is determined to avoid going forward. Fear slows you down and makes you hesitant and careful, which can be beneficial to you, but sometimes your fears are based on your imagination rather than on an accurate assessment of the risks in your reality. If your fear is big enough, even if you’re also excited to go forward, the part of you that wants to keep you safe can successfully prevent you from going forward into territory that’s both desirable and safe.

How to get motivated again: To get motivated, you need to deal with your fear. Start by naming your fears so that they’re out in the open. Remember to say a gentle “thank you” to your fears–they’re trying to protect you, after all. Then question your fears: “Why am I afraid of that happening?” “What are the chances that would really happen?” Some of your fears will slip away now. Look at the fears that are left. What are they telling you about the research you need to do, the gaps you need to fill, and the risk management strategies you need to put in place? Honor that wisdom by building it into your plan. Finally, consider breaking down the changes into smaller steps and focusing on just the next few small steps–this will calm your fears.

2. You’re Demotivated by Setting the Wrong Dreams
Martha Beck has a great model for understanding motivation. She explains that we have an Essential Self and a Social Self. Your Essential Self is the part of you that’s spontaneous and creative and playful, the part that knows what’s most important to you. Your Social Self is the part of you that has been developing since the day you were born, learning the rules of the tribe and working hard to make sure that you’re safe by making you follow “the rules.”

We’re all surrounded by so many messages that feed into our Social Selves and we’re keen to impress our tribes. When you feel unmotivated, it’s because you’re setting dreams based purely on what your Social Self wants and this is pulling you away from the direction your Essential Self wants you to take. Your Essential Self uses demotivation to slow you down and to detach you from the toxic dreams you’ve set.

How to get motivated again: Take some time to review your dreams. Since your Essential Self is non-verbal, you can easily access your Essential Self through your body. Notice how your body responds as you think of each of the dreams you’re trying to work on.

When your body (and particularly your breathing) shows signs of tightness and constriction, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re trying to follow toxic dreams. If you get a constricted reaction, scrap your current dreams and question all your stories about what you “should” do with your life. Notice what makes you smile spontaneously or lose track of time, and set dreams related to that stuff instead.

3. You’re Demotivated by Lack of Clarity
When you haven’t consciously and clearly articulated what you want, your picture of your future will be vague. We like what’s familiar, so we resist what’s unfamiliar and vague and we stay with and re-create what’s familiar to us. If you’re not clear about what you want to create, then it makes sense that you’ll lack motivation because you’d rather stay with your current familiar reality.

How to get motivated again: If you want to create something different from what you’ve been experiencing, it’s not enough to just know what you don’t want. You need to know what you do want, and you need to articulate a clear and specific vision of what you want to create so that you can become familiar with that new outcome and feel comfortable moving toward it. Take some time to articulate what you want and why you want it.

4. You’re Demotivated by a Values Conflict
Your values are what’s important to you in life. If you have a values conflict, it means that there are two or more values that are important to you but you believe that you can’t satisfy all of those values in a particular situation.

This situation causes you to feel conflicted and pulled in different directions as you try to find ways to get what’s important to you. You might have brief spurts of motivation to work on something and then lose motivation and start working on something else, or your motivation might dry up altogether because the effort of dealing with internal conflict quickly tires you out and saps your energy.

How to get motivated again: You need to unpack your values conflict and play mediator. You have to get the parts of you that are advocating for different values to play on the same team again. Start with acknowledging the internal conflict.

Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle so that you have two columns. Write about the two different directions you feel pulled in, one in each column, and summarize it with a statement of what each part wants.

Now, pick one column and chunk it up: “Why does this part want that? What does it hope to get as a result of having that?” Keep asking the questions and writing your answers until you feel that you’ve hit on the result that this part of you ultimately wants. Now do the same for the other part, and notice when you get to the level where the answers in the two columns are the same.

Ultimately, all of the parts of you always want the same thing, because they’re all you. Now that you know what you really want, you can evaluate the strategies that each part had been advocating for and decide which strategy would work best.

Often, once you’re clear on what you really want, you spot new strategies for getting it that you hadn’t noticed before. Sometimes by doing this exercise you’ll find ways to satisfy all of your values, but sometimes that’s not possible. If you’ve taken time to think through your values and you’ve consciously chosen to prioritize a particular value over your other values for a while, this clarity will ease the internal conflict and your motivation will return.

5. You’re Demotivated by Lack of Autonomy
We thrive on autonomy. We all have a decision-making center in our brains, and this part of us needs to be exercised. Studies have found that this decision-making center in the brain is under-developed in musicians who have depression and that if you practice using this part of the brain and making decisions, depression often clears.

In the book Drive of Daniel Pink, he writes about the research that shows that when it comes to doing creative work, having some autonomy to decide what we do, when we do it, how we do it, and whom we do it with is core to igniting and sustaining motivation, creativity, and productivity.

How to get motivated again: Consider how much autonomy you have in relation to the dreams you’ve been trying to pursue. Are there areas where you feel constricted and controlled? Consider how you could gradually introduce more autonomy in your task, time, technique, location, and team, and then, if you’re employed, have a discussion with your manager and ask for greater autonomy in a few specific areas of your work.

6. You’re Demotivated by Lack of Challenge
Challenge is another crucial ingredient for motivation that authors like Daniel Pink and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, highlight. When it comes to dealing with challenges, there’s a sweet spot. Too great a challenge, and the fear becomes too great and saps our motivation (see point 1), and if the challenge is too small, we quickly get bored and struggle to stay motivated. We’re designed to be living, growing creatures, and we need constant challenges and opportunities to master new skills. Without challenges, our Essential Self steps in and demotivates us as a way of telling us that we’ve departed from the path that’s right for us.

How to get motivated again: Review your dreams and the projects you’re working on. Are they challenging you? Are they going to require you to grow in order to achieve them, or are you treading water in your comfort zone, doing only the things you know you can do? Try tweaking your dreams to make them a bit more challenging, take on projects that will require you to grow, and find a new thing or two to learn to stimulate yourself.

7. You’re Demotivated by Grief
At the beginning of any change, we go through a phase of wondering if we should or could hang on to the way things were and grieving what we’ll be losing if we make significant changes. Confusion, self-doubt, mistrust of the world around us, and feeling lost are common symptoms, and the bigger the change, the more powerful these symptoms. Sometimes we even go through a bit of depression and social withdrawal. Martha Beck calls this phase the “Death and Rebirth” phase of change in her book Finding Your Own North Star. With all the grieving and fearing and feeling lost that go on in this phase, it’s normal for your motivation to dry up.

How to get motivated again: If you’ve just experienced a trauma or loss, or you’re going through a major change and finding that there are days where you’re hit hard with Death and Rebirth symptoms, don’t try to make yourself motivated and proactive. You can’t rush grieving or the undoing of your old life and ways of thinking, and you can’t skip the Death and Rebirth phase and go straight into Dreaming and Scheming.

You need to give yourself a lot of space for nurturing and reflection. Look after your body with good food, rest, and exercise. Express your grief, confusion, and fears with people who can listen lovingly. Spend time in nature and with calm, loving people to center yourself. Accept every feeling and thought you have–they’re all normal and safe.

Take one day at a time and go easy on yourself. Confusion, forgetfulness, and clumsiness are all normal in this stage. The grieving will end when it’s ready, and if you relax into it and express your grief, it’ll be sooner rather than later.

8. You’re Demotivated by Loneliness
This is an especially important one for those of us who work alone from home. You know those days when you feel a bit cabin-feverish, you just don’t feel like working, and you’d rather be out having a drink with a friend or playing a game of soccer? Well, perhaps it’s because we’re designed to be social creatures and sometimes your Essential Self is just longing for some connection with other people. Your Essential Self hijacks your work motivation so that you’ll take a break from work and go spend some time with other people.

How to get motivated again: Take a break and go spend some time with someone you enjoy. You may be surprised at the motivating impact this has and find yourself much more clear and productive when you return to your work. And then look for ways that you can begin to build more networking and joint venturing into your work.

9. You’re Demotivated by Burnout
I attract overachieving Type A’s, and, as a recovering Type A myself, I know that sometimes we’re banging on about wanting to get more done even after we’ve exceeded the limit on what’s sustainable. If you’re feeling tired all the time, you’ve lost your energy for socializing, and the idea of taking a snooze sounds more compelling than the stuff you’re usually interested in, then you’ve probably pushed yourself too long and hard and you may be burned out.

Your Essential Self will always work to motivate you to move toward what you most need. So if you’re burned out and needing sleep, your Essential Self may even sap the motivation from the things that you’re usually really ignited about–just to get you to meet your core needs again.

How to get motivated again: Sleep. And then when you’re done sleeping and the quality of your thinking has been restored, check back in with your Essential Self about what’s most important to you. Start building sustainable ways to do more of what’s important to you.

10. You’re Demotivated By Fuzzy Next Steps
Your end-dream might be nice and clear, but if you haven’t taken time to chunk it down into smaller dreams, you’ll get stuck, confused, and unmotivated when it’s time to take action. Some projects are small and familiar enough that they don’t need a plan, but if you’re often worrying that you don’t know what to do next and you don’t have a clear plan, then this might be the source of your demotivation.

How to get motivated again: If you want to keep your motivation flowing steadily through all stages of your projects, take time to create clear project plans and to schedule your plans into your calendar.

Use your fears to point you to the potential risks you need to manage. Write down all of your “I-don’t-know-how-to” concerns and turn these into research questions. The first part of any planning stage is research, and you’ll find new research questions along the way, so realize that conducting research should be part of your action plan at every stage of your project. Finally, ask yourself what smaller dreams need to be achieved for you to achieve your end-dream, and schedule deadlines for yourself.

Dream-setting, planning, organizing, and accountability structures are often touted as the big solution to demotivation and the silver bullet that will get you creative and productive again. The truth, as you’ve learned: It’s a useful strategy for dealing with only some types of demotivation. Pinpoint your unique form of demotivation, and start to tackle it in a specific way.

How Famous Musicians Struggled Before They Hit The Spotlight

Living the rockstar life seems easy-peasy but little do we realize that a lot of blood, sweat, tears and hard work has gone into getting that coveted spotlight. Many famous musicians struggled plenty before making it big. Here are some of them and the stories of their hardship:

– Elvis Presley. It’s been ages since he passed away. But even today today, the very name of Elvis Presley makes $55 million in a year. But he wasn’t so fortunate when he first started out. After his very first performance, his manager fired him and advised him to go back to driving a truck since he felt Elvis was not talented enough for the music industry.

– Kailash Kher. At present, he has the whole country swooning to his melodious voice, but Kailash Kher has had his fair share of struggles. Before his major break through, Kailash Kher lived on a railway platform in Mumbai. He ran away from his house and learned music from 15 different teachers before moving to Mumbai, where he lived a life he could never imagine.

– The Beatles. Who can ever forget the infamous dialogue by John Lennon that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus, but when they started out, they faced a lot of problems. In fact, a recording label went ahead and said, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” Disagree much?

– Asha Bhosle. Today, she has given her voice to over 12000 songs, however, when she started out, things were not easy. In a candid interview she said, “No one helped me. I would go begging for work. It was not easy as I had no godfather or someone to help me. A lonely person tends to make mistakes, it is always better to have someone to guide you. I had no one.”

– Beethoven. In his younger days, he struggled with the violin. Even though his heart lay in composition, he found it hard to practice the violin and neglected his practices. Most of his teachers felt that he was hopeless and wouldn’t have a career in music composition. However, this turned for the better and he composed some of his best works despite having a hearing impairment.

– Sonu Nigam. Hailing from a lower middle class background, Sonu Nigam’s journey has been anything but easy. When he started out, he would stand outside music directors’ offices for hours without any food or water. He faced a lot of humiliation and had a lot of insecurities before getting his actual breakthrough.

– Jay-Z. As a young boy, Jay-Z always had big dreams for himself. He saw himself as a famous rapper, but the world did not agree. During his struggling days, he was refused a deal with almost all major labels. Everyone refused to sign him on. However, that didn’t stop him since he went on and started his own music label, Roc-A-Fella Records.

– Madonna. Before all the fame and glory, Madonna was just a high school drop out. After leaving school, she moved to New York city where she worked as a waitress at a Dunkin’ Donuts. But apparently, she didn’t last too long there. Not even one entire day.

– Mohit Chauhan. After getting his masters degree in Geology, Mohit denounced the 9-5 life and moved to Delhi to pursue music. Here’s where he formed Silk Route and enjoyed a fair amount of success before the band broke up. For a few years, he was out of commission until he made a comeback with the song “Guncha” in 2005 from the movie “Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh.

– Andrea Bocelli. Born with a poor eyesight, Andrea, an Italian classical tenor, recording artist and singer-songwriter, lost his eyesight at the age of 12. However, his setback didn’t stop him from chasing his dream. Because of his love for music, he was forced to moonlight as a piano bar performer before he was discovered at the age of 33.

There’s no doubt that musicians have to struggle a lot before making it big, but thankfully they all got there in the end.

Lil Wayne – Mess

There is always a bleary ballad on a Lil Wayne album, a foggy moment of reflection and empathy. He has a playlist’s worth of these tracks—“I’m Single,” “How to Love,” “Shoot Me Down,” “Tie My Hands”—and “Mess,” from Tha Carter V, deserves a slot on the best of “Tender Moments with Weezy.”

Over a distant loop of acoustic guitar and some small pings from a keyboard, he spills himself all over the track, mixing up double-time rapping with crooning and half-confessions with boasts and corny jokes. It isn’t quite a banger or a ballad, but something surprising in between. The song is, well, messy, but purposefully and excitingly so, sloshing over its own edges with Wayne’s unstable momentum.

Like he always does, he mixes metaphors and feeds clichés into a wood chipper, from “Put yourself in my shoes, but you gotta tiptoe” to “She don’t believe in ghosts till I get ghost,” but he moves lightly enough on the track to make it all blend together and dovetail. Forget Best Rapper Alive: Wayne, at his most thrilling, is the most musical rapper alive, and “Mess” taps back into that well.

Cardi B to make first awards show performance at AMAs since giving birth

Cardi B is making her comeback at the 2018 American Music Awards!

The rapper, 25, will be taking the stage at the Oct. 9 show, marking her first performance since welcoming daughter Kulture Kiari with husband Offset on July 10. She’ll be joined by Bad Bunny and J Balvin to perform their hit “I Like It,” PEOPLE confirms exclusively.

In addition, the AMAs will be Cardi B’s first awards appearance in the weeks since her now-infamous New York Fashion Week brawl with Nicki Minaj on Sept. 7.

Sixteen days after she delivered baby Kulture, Cardi B announced in late July she would not be performing on Bruno Mars’ tour in order to spend more time with her daughter and give her body more time to recover from the birth. The mother of one previously made her first event appearance as a new mom when she attended the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards in August. Cardi B opened the show with a short sketch but did not perform.

Cardi B is tied for the most nominations of the year with Drake as they both received eight nods. The pair will compete against each other in the show’s top category, artist of the year, along with Imagine Dragons, Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, and Taylor Swift. The star, who released her debut album Invasion of Privacy in April, is also nominated in the favorite new artist of the year, favorite female artist, pop/rock, and favorite artist and rap/hip-hop categories.

PEOPLE exclusively revealed that Carrie Underwood, Imagine Dragons, and Post Malone featuring Ty Dolla $ign will also be performing at this year’s show.

Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross will host the AMAs for the second consecutive year.

The 2018 American Music Awards, presented by YouTube Music, will broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Oct. 9 (at 8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

Don’t every give up on your dreams

Over the last 15 years Synergy For Music noticed a lot in the music industry. When musical artists and musicians come to Synergy For Music with their questions, they found a few things:

1. There is a lot doubt about what they should do
2. Therefore we asked them what they already have done
3. The doubt is keeping them from achieving their goal

Musical artists and musicians tell Synergy For Music after collaboration they found new energy, motivation and inspiration to take their career to the next level. They say they have never done so many actions to achieve their goal and see so many other possibilities.

Synergy For Music is committed to continuously thrive to create more clarity for those who need it. And yes, Synergy For Music is also constantly learning from their clients.

Don’t every give up on your dreams, the path to your dreams is more then worth it. And maybe even more beautiful then when you have reached your dream.

Christina Aguilera gives fans a peek at her first tour in more than a decade

Christina Aguilera is ready to “Accelerate” into her first tour in over a decade.

In an exclusive video, the “Genie in a Bottle” singer, 37, takes PEOPLE backstage as she prepares for her Liberation Tour, which kicks off Sept. 25 in Hollywood, Florida.

In one shot, the former The Voice coach sits and looks into the distance nervously. This is the singer’s first time going on tour since 2008 — and she says she is “thrilled” to get back on stage.

“I feel like a new artist again, which is so refreshing,” she told PEOPLE this summer. “It’s what I’ve been needing for so long. I don’t really have any expectations.”

In the exclusive video, the songstress is seen practicing both sensual and emotional choreography alongside multiple male and female dancers, in what looks like will be spectacle to watch during her tour. This week, the singer shared that she was adding the “finishing touches” to her tour, posting a photo of her getting her makeup done on Instagram.

Aguilera also told PEOPLE this summer that along with her dancers, her adorable daughter Summer Rain, 4, will be joining her on tour.

“She’s a mama’s girl and I’ll definitely be taking her on the road with me,” said the “Beautiful” singer of Summer. “She’s going to learn to see life through a different set of eyes.”

It was the birth of her daughter and her son Max Liron, 10, who encouraged Aguilera to take a small break from making music and coaching on The Voice so she could “have a stable, one-place, rooted environment for my kids.”

“But with any artist, that will run its course and feel stagnant. I was like, ‘Man, I won’t be of service to anyone if I don’t get back to who I am and what I love to do,’” the “Sick of Sittin” singer shared. “I said, ‘Mama’s got to hit the road again!’”

The behind-the-scenes video ends with Aguilera faintly asking her fans to “remember.” And how can fans not remember the five-time Grammy award winner’s most iconic songs and performances?

The Liberation Tour in the North America begins Sept. 25 and is set to end on Nov. 13. Fans can access tickets through Aguilera’s site.

Demi Lovato’s mother speaks about her daughter’s overdose for the first time

Watch here the whole interview:

Demi Lovato’s mother Dianna de la Garza has opened up about her daughter’s July overdose for the first time, speaking to Newsmax TV about her finding out, seeing Demi for the first time at the hospital, and Demi’s status today. de le Garza’s interview was also meant to raise awareness on the opioids crisis in the U.S. and was done with Demi’s blessing.

TMZ reported news of Demi’s condition before de le Garza found out, she said. “I literally start to shake a little bit when I start to remember what happened that day,” she started. “I was actually looking at my phone and all these texts started coming in. Just text after text after texts. And I thought, ‘What is going on?’”

The texts were from friends who had seen TMZ’s report, de le Garza recalled. “The first lines of these texts were saying, ‘I just heard the news, I’m so sorry, I’m praying for your family, I’m praying for Demi.’ I was in shock. I thought, what is going on? And someone said, ‘I just saw on TMZ. I’m so sorry. Please tell me it’s not true.’ And I mean, my heart just dropped. I didn’t know what I was looking at. And so I thought okay, I have to get on TMZ on Twitter and see what they’re saying. And before I could get on TMZ to see what they were reporting, I got a phone call from Demi’s assistant at the time, Kelsey.”

“And I answered the phone and Kelsey was rambling like she had obviously been through something terrible, and she said, ‘I need to tell you what’s going on. You’re going to see a report come out. Well, it’s already come out.’ And I stopped her and said, ‘Kelsey, just tell me what’s going on.’ And the next words that came out of her mouth are words that are so difficult to hear as a parent. She said Demi overdosed. So I was in shock, I didn’t know what to say. It was just something I never, ever expected to hear as a parent about any of my kids. And I hesitated to ask but I had to ask her, I just remember it felt like the words took forever to come out of my mouth. I said, ‘Is she okay?’ And she stopped for a second and she said, ‘She’s conscious, but she’s not talking.’ And so I knew at that point that we were in trouble.”

de le Garza had her other daughter Dallas drive her to the hospital where Demi was, saying she didn’t think she could drive herself. “[My daughters] Dallas and Madison and I jumped out of the car at the emergency room and ran into the emergency room to be by her side. She just didn’t look good—at all. She was in bad shape. But I said to her, ‘Demi, I’m here. I love you.’ And at that point she said back to me, ‘I love you, too.’ So from that point on, I never allowed myself to think things weren’t going to be okay.”

de le Garza said the family didn’t know “for two days if she was going to make it or not.” She credited everyone’s prayers and the team at Cedars-Sinai, the hospital Demi was at.

Today, Demi is seeking treatment and doing well. “I can honestly say today that she’s doing really well. She’s happy. She’s healthy. She’s working on her sobriety, and she’s getting the help she needs. And that in itself encourages me about her future and about the future of our family.”

Noah Cyrus to refund fans after GoFundMe scam

To be fair, she didn’t think anyone would actually take this seriously.

After listing a $12,000 bottle of tears on her merch site, Noah Cyrus probably didn’t think people were actually going to try to buy it. Well, someone tried really really hard. So hard, in fact, that Cyrus had to reimburse an entire GoFundMe campaign.

Following her very public, very melodramatic breakup with Lil Xan, Cyrus did what any smart business woman would do: Create an emotionally-charged merch line. However, her merch line, more specifically a $12K bottle of tears, has caused some trouble. To be clear, the tears were never real. The was never a bottle of Noah Cyrus tears. There probably never will be a bottle of Noah Cyrus tears. It was all a big stunt for social media and news outlets, like us, to latch onto.

However, the singer clearly underestimated the power of scammers and stans on the internet in 2018. If you attempt to buy the tears via the pizzaslime store, your money will automatically be put back into your account. However, user Sad Cyren decided to start a GoFundMe campaign that inevitably would avoid that nice little feature altogether, according to TMZ.

“I LOVE NOAH CYRUS SO MUCH I NEED A BOTTLE OF HER TEARS BUT IT’s $12,000!!!!!!!!!!!!” the description read. “PLEASE HELP ME MAKE MY DREAM COME TRUE AND GET ME TO MY GOAL!!!!!!!!!! IT SAYS ON THE PIZZASLIME STORE THAT IT’S ONLY AVAILABLE FOR 48 HOURS SO PLEASE SHARE THIS SO I CAN GET TO THE GOAL AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!!!!!”

In just 15 hours, eight people donated to Cyren’s cause, bringing the total to $1,240. One person even donated $1,000. At this point, the GoFundMe campaign caught the attention of Cyrus and her team. The campaign is now closed and Cyrus has since offered to reimburse anyone that donated to the GoFundMe. Additionally, anyone who donated was offered a backstage pass to one of Cyrus’ shows.

Noah Cyrus sells her tears

Noah Cyrus (18 years old) collaborates with the clothing line Pizzaslime. She sells T-shirts with a picture of her father’s (Billy Ray Cyrus) face tattooed with the words “achy, breaks” and “Dang Flabbit”, “Noah Cyrus Tears” mugs and sweatpants with the words “Sadness”.

But she also sells a bottle of her tears for $12,000, because of her breakup with Lil Xan. Pizzaslime says: “This is approximately 12 tears made by Noah Cyrus as a result of sadness. Human digestion of these tears is not suggested cause tears are generally pretty salty and that would just be super f——— weird if you drank someone else’s tears.”

Hello Belgium


Always great to be working in Antwerpen, Hello Belgium!