The Boy is Back in Town
Good news everyone!
I have returned from Argentina and have been back in the U.S. for a little over a week now. During that time I have done some major changes. While there are many more to come, I assure you that the changes I have made are just as positive as the changes I will make in the future.
My blog now has it’s own domain. That’s right folks! I have a .com site. CEOofRockBlog.com is now up and ready to go.
Not only that, but I have been at work trying to rearrange the layout of my site so that it will be more professional, easier to read, and better equipped to find out what you, the readers, are interested in.
It’s Always Sunny in the Rich Man’s World
I also have plans for continuing to give out free content and using this blog as a platform for bringing in some money. Not yet enough to put a down payment on a Lexus, but definitely enough to pay for musical instruction, instruments, and other things that allow me to become the CEO of my own life.
I confess to you that a problem I have had with blogging is that even though I write about business I have had a phobia of making money on my blog. I guess I was afraid of what people would think. Stupid huh?
If I am telling people to take charge of their lives, especially their financial ones, I would be a hypocrite not to do so with something that I have. No longer. From now on, I will make sure that the links people would click on anyway from my blog will result in some sort of kickback.
Takin’ Care of Business
Before I do, I will establish that with the ceoofrockblog, any affiliate link will be either something highly recommended to me by paying customers, used by myself personally, highly relevant and useful, etc. A product will have to meet at least 1 out of those three to even have a chance of making it onto my blog.
Also, if anyone wishes to have me recommend something of theirs, I have to check it out for myself on their dime. Once I do, I will make the fairest and accurate review that I can regardless of what I may receive. In other words, you can pay me and I could absolutely slam your product, or you can send it to me and I will give it a glowing review should it be something that can help people who read my blog. Even If I received no payment! Payment only prioritizes whether or not I review something should my schedule be full, and in no way will prevent your product from being slammed if it sucks.
Lastly, I will disclose at the bottom of each post on my newer site whether or not something was an affiliate link. I will also say whether or not I have used it or why I am writing about it in every post that has one.
Walkin’ in Memphis Nashville
On a recent note, I have driven over 600 miles and crossed 2 state lines to end up in Nashville, Tennessee. This is where the Mike Curb College of Music and Business is located, as a part of Belmont University. The next 4 days will determine whether or not I will get in. I will also see whether I will stay the course with Business Marketing or switch majors to Music Business. Finally, I will also see whether my mailing address will be a Tennessee listing or a Texas listing. That’s right, If I don’t get into Belmont, I will continue my stay in Texas. The weather is better (except for this week), the girls are pretty (aren’t they everywhere?), and I will have closer proximity to the upcoming SXSW in March of this year in Austin.
So check out the site, subscribe, and tell me how you like it. I emphasize subscribe because I am not a coding pro, and I don’t know how the switchover handled subscribers. Keep rocking on!
Since my blog started, I have kept track of interesting quotes I have found on my journey, marking them down as I go along. Some of them were from world famous game changers, and others were from anonymous comments made online. Some were made centuries ago, and some were made more recently. I narrowed them down to about ten, which you can read below. Here they are in no particular order.
The Best Success Quotes I found in the last year
1. “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain — and most fools do.” – Ben Franklin
2. “If you don’t know it by now, being a dick doesn’t make you seem like a rock star, it makes you seem like a dick.” – Jesse Cannon, Musformation
3. “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward
4. “Some people get an education without going to college; the rest get it after they get out.” -Mark Twain
5. “Hollywood is like high school, but with money.” – Tom Hanks
6. “The more you “let people in” to see the inner workings of your business, the more likely they are to buy from you”-Erica Douglass
7. “Big Ideas are little ideas that no one killed too soon.” – Seth Godin
8. “Forget all the frustration, the tricks, and the worry. Just focus on becoming good. Really damn good.” – Cal Newport
9. “Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world.” -Lily Tomlin
10. “I’m not a big believer in long-term planning and far-off goals. In fact, I generally set 3-month and 6-month dreamlines [goals]. The variables change too much and in-the-future distance becomes an excuse for postponing action” – Timothy Ferriss
Is there an 11th quote out there? Please let me know in the comments what quote you have found that contributed to your journey.
Breaking the Wall
This is part 2 of a series of songwriting posts designed to personally break me out of songwriting hell. Part 1 explains what that hell is and why I want out. The link to Part 1 is here.
The beginning of getting out
About a week ago, I got myself to a cafe located in the local town I was in, and sat down facing a wall to have no distractions. After an hour and a half, I came up with many different patterns in my songwriting that may be contributing to my continual negativity during the songwriting process. So far, here are the 16 that I have found:
- Always writing at night-time
- Doing lyrics first then music second
- Using Garageband or my guitar as main instruments
- Being tempted to create a full band on Garageband before I even have 20 seconds of music
- Writing on days I have not had decent exercise
- Writing songs soon after having consumed high-carb, high-fat/sugary foods.
- On days where circumstances or mood are particularly bad, I often use songwriting to vent it. Doing this repeatedly has caused me to be either reluctant to pick up an guitar, or to feel down on the rare occasions I do use it to write songs.
- Writing in English
- Always writing alone.
- My lyrics continue to have negative, answerless questions.
- I tend to dress the same way when writing songs every time – Jeans, Sneakers, T-Shirt, etc.
- Never under the influence of any stimulant during songwriting. (Maybe coffee or tea can help?!)
- Drawing on past experience rather than visualizing a future.
- Not rewriting more than once.
- Not changing the volume of my song at any point.
- Not meditating on what I want to convey beforehand.
Are any of these issues for you?
What I am noticing is that maybe I am not the only one who gets drawn into a negative funk when writing. It is very well possible that even the greatest of artists have had to dive down into mental mud in order to pull out something that will make them a living.
I subscribe to the view that it doesn’t have to be that way. By looking at the above 16 things, what possible solutions can you come up with in your head to create a different, better songwriting environment for yourself? Comments will help fellow readers and myself.
Because your time is valuable, I will only publicize music-industry related posts that provide high value. This particular blog post is not intended to provide in-depth music industry knowledge. It is simply news about me that documents my journey, hopefully in the right direction. For this reason, I will not advertise these updates on twitter, facebook or anywhere else. Strictly personal posts will only be read by visitors to the blog and subscribers.
My life is crazy, and I mean it in a really cool way.
Last week I celebrated the end of my school session in Argentina with a trip to Peru. It was the second time I had visited the country – and the first time I had visited a country other than the U.S. more than once.
Lima’s Touristy Miraflores District seemed to be doing much better than before. I saw almost no beggars on the street and the streets seemed much cleaner than when I was last there in 2006. Last time I was there, the beggars were so prevalent and so zombie-like in their tones of voice and movement that it was reminiscent of South Park’s “Night of the Living Homeless”. I felt bad, but the reality was when I gave someone anything, many more crowded in to get more from me and the one(s) who received my money would keep asking as if I hadn’t given them anything at all. It was very sad, yet it made me laugh later because I didn’t know how to react.
Three things I recommend if you want to go to Peru:
1. Try Inca Cola. It is their most popular soda and it tastes like carbonated-bubble-gum. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but try it to see how you like it.
2. Coca Tea. It makes me drowsy but most people get a small kick out of it. The leaves are chewed by indigenous people who live in the mountainous southeast in the Andes because it numbs their senses to the volatile temperatures that accompany that part of the country. Fun fact: Coca leaves come from the same plant that is used to make cocaine. The thing is, the leaves are so absent of the drug-like chemicals contained in the plant that it would take hundreds of bags of the leaves to get the equivalent of one ounce of the white powder. For that reason, it is not only legal, but also safe to consume if you are worried about health issues. You can even buy one or two boxes of the tea (in tea bags) and take it back to the U.S. without trouble (it’s so harmless in that state that no one cares). ¡Hoja de Coca, no es droga!
3. Machu Picchu. This was my second time to Peru, but my first time to this famous Inca Ruin. It takes about 2.5-3 hours by train to get from Cusco to the town at the foot of the mountain ruins. After you pass through this skinny tunnel with a slanted rock on one side and the brick wall of a hut on the other, you turn to your right to see the most crazy combination of city and mountain you have ever seen. If you have seen it on television, forget what you have seen, because seeing it in person makes it feel at least three times larger.
Anyway, I had a great time, and out of the five South American countries I have visited, it is my favorite South-American country so far.
College is worth all the money for usually three reasons. One, to get education. Two, to get credibility so people that society deems “important” will listen to you. Then there is number three: to get connections in the industry. My current university in Texas was the best school I had gone to when you compare it to the community college in Alaska that I had to go to earlier in life. It had friendlier people, a more efficient system because it was a privatized, and was in the heartland of America, giving me access to major cities and more opportunities to try new things.
What it lacked, however, was that third key: industry connections. Seeing as music is something I am really committed to, business marketing, my current major, is very useful for that.
There was a problem though. I participated in the strongest entrepreneurial program (even as a volunteer and in leadership roles) that the school had and noticed that at the job conventions the only people looking to hire me after graduation were corporations like Wal Mart, Best Buy, Aflac, Dell, or Kraft. As someone who goes to school to avoid working at places like Wal Mart or Best Buy, I prefer to keep my relationships with such companies as far as buying a digital camera or making macaroni in 10 minutes. Clearly, I was not going to get the industry connections I needed there.
After searching schools I discovered Belmont, the second largest private school in Tennessee. Owned by Baptists, it is also a Christian school. Not only have grammy-winning artists come out of that place, but it also boasts one of the top music business major programs in the country. I was sold on going when I read on their website “students who have interests other than in the music industry also have a place at Belmont”. Clearly, by switching I would be receiving better education for my interests, getting a higher credibility rating because it is a well known institution in the American music market (both Secularly and in the Christian markets), and getting those connections for that work experience I will not go through life without.
In addition, I can make friends with like-minded individuals, gaining the ability to build onto a team of great people who want to lead and change the way people think through business and music.
Where do I go from here?
I did all the things I can do to get in, and I am sure I will get in. Now I just need to get my stuff together upon my return to the states before New Year’s, travel to Belmont, choose classes with help of a counselor, and get settled in by January 13th.
If God wanted to create a heaven on earth based upon my interests, it would be like Belmont but with year-long summers and beaches. Beaches aside, I feel like this is where he is sending me now.
Like all plans, I feel there is no other place I should be right now. Also, like other plans, I know that obstacles do come up and I need to keep moving forward regardless of what happens. I need to follow my own advice and keep improving, becoming so good that no one can ignore me.
Let me fill you in on a situation I’m going through.
I can write okay songs, but I want to do better than that.
For as long as I have had this blog, being the best you can possibly be has been one of the core principles that I talk about, and it should not be any different for me. It is a fact that if an artist writes okay songs with the goal being to entertain, his/her chances of success are slim to nothing. An artist in this situation needs to do one of two things:
1. Be the best there is. If your goal is to entertain, be the best entertainer. There are just as many forms of entertainment as there are ways to present them. Mediocre songs will get you nowhere, so write the best songs, or take the best songs other people wrote and be the best at presenting them.
2. Redefine what it is you are trying to do with your material. Not everybody’s goal in music is to entertain. For example, religious musicians often don’t even focus on the entertainment value of their music. My goal is to be involved in creating things that entertain, inform, and liberate people (as opposed to being merely a distraction). After I define how much of each I want to do, a more unique style is created that allows me to practice being the best in an area that has less competition.
As you can see, working towards being the best remains a key component of success, regardless of which route you choose.
Here’s where it breaks down for me right now. My history of songwriting contains a lot of negativity from my past. While much of it has been dealt with to the point where I am a positive, productive person, I have not lived long enough in this state to write songs that entertain, inform, and liberate. For me, songwriting draws me back into a cold dark place, making it frustrating, and nearly impossible to create the art I want to express. It bothers me so much sometimes that I do not practice long enough to really build the skills I need.
This is a wall. And while many creative people claim they can only create what they feel at the time, that’s not me. I am a mixture of artist and businessman, and therefore I am thinking about how to make the changes necessary to get really great.
Here is what I propose: Set a time aside that is a whole 1-2 days. For the most part spend that time alone, yet call someone if it feels helpful to do so. Make sure it is someplace you won’t be disturbed (if you have to get a hotel room and make a weekend retreat out of it, do so.). Bring your laptop, whatever instrument(s) you use, paper, something to write with, and whatever else you feel you need. Take that time out to ask yourself why you are at a wall, how it made you feel, where did it come from, and how to change it? Explore different strategies for changing how you create or what you use for creation. After that, try creating some things without worrying what emotions are coming out, and changing the song/lyric (or part of a song) until it starts to have what you want it to have.
That is what I want to do, and it looks like I will spend Thursday, and Friday doing that. If not, I will definitely get it done by month’s end. Hey, it is the holidays!
Why am I sharing this online? Well, I don’t want anyone to make illusions that I am some sort of guru. I am 22 years old, and I have some answers, and want more still, on this life-long journey. If something I have an issue with is shared by other people, seeing my journey may help…and seeing your journey may help me.